S’pore gets more VC money as Wave­maker closes $89m fund

The Straits Times - - BUSINESS -

SIN­GA­PORE Wave­maker Part­ners has closed a US$66 mil­lion (S$89.2 mil­lion) in­vest­ment fund for South­east Asia, mark­ing an ex­cep­tional stretch for Sin­ga­pore i n which three ven­ture cap­i­tal (VC) firms com­pleted fundrais­ings in the city within a sin­gle week.

Wave­maker ex­ceeded its ini­tial tar­get of US$50 mil­lion by draw­ing a range of back­ers in­clud­ing Te­masek Holdings, Amer­i­can ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Tim Draper and the World Bank’s In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance Corp. This is the firm’s sec­ond fund for South-east Asia.

While many VC firms in the re­gion fo­cus on con­sumer In­ter­net start-ups, Wave­maker has built ex­per­tise in the world of busi­ness-to­busi­ness (B2B) com­pa­nies.

Mr Paul San­tos, Sin­ga­pore-based man­ag­ing part­ner, con­cen­trates on cor­po­rate soft­ware and hard­ware com­pa­nies. Wave­maker sold a mo­bile ad­ver­tis­ing start-up to Xur­pas Inc for about US$45 mil­lion last year and Al­pha­bet Inc’s Google ac­quired its port­fo­lio com­pany Pie, a Sin­ga­pore-based chat app.

“We be­lieve Wave­maker’s dif­fer­en­ti­ated fo­cus on B2B and deep tech will help cre­ate new, dis­rup­tive in­no­va­tions,” said IFC’s ven­ture cap­i­tal lead for South-east Asia and Asia In­ter­net in­vest­ments Pra­van Mal­ho­tra.

Sin­ga­pore is gain­ing more promi- nence as a hub for tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ments. This week, the city’s Ver­tex Ventures com­pleted its big­gest fundrais­ing yet with a US$210 mil­lion fund for South-east Asian and In­dian tech­nol­ogy deals. Then Vick­ers Ven­ture Part­ners, the Sin­ga­porean firm led by Mr Finian Tan, raised a to­tal of US$230 mil­lion for two funds.

Wave­maker’s other start-ups in­clude Structo, which makes 3D print­ers for den­tal ap­pli­ca­tions, as well as Smartkarma, a mar­ket­place for in­vest­ment re­search, and Smove, which pro­vides on-de­mand car rental ser­vices.

Mr San­tos said that when he started in­vest­ing in South-east Asia, he con­nected with B2B founders and spent 80 per cent of his time with them.

“Usu­ally, they would have in­sights that not many peo­ple would have and friends who will give them money,” he said in an in­ter­view. “You can build sus­tain­able busi­nesses with less cap­i­tal.”

Mr Paul San­tos con­cen­trates on cor­po­rate soft­ware and hard­ware com­pa­nies.

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