MUBADALA IS HELPING TECHNOLOGY STARTUPS MAKE THEIR MARK GLOBALLY.
Silicon Valley is synonymous with tech innovation over a wide swath of industries. But today it’s vital to be as comfortable operating in Kuala Lumpur as in Cupertino. Can the “insider culture” that has fueled so many Bay Area startups go global? For Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Mubadala has been a leading international investment firm for 15 years, and has been investing heavily in tech over the past decade. Now, the group is making an ambitious bid to build a network of startups with a truly global mind-set. “The fields of technology and venture capital are evolving,” Ajami says. “Silicon Valley investors are great at what they do, but the world is a big place, and investors like Mubadala and Softbank will play a key role in transforming the tech world in coming years.” With a new office in San Francisco and a commitment to helping young companies find their global footing, Mubadala is backing up that prediction—and the tech community is paying attention. Says Ajami: “It’s resonating with startup founders who are saying, ‘I’m ready to expand globally, and I need strong partners to help us and could benefit from an investor who has strong local presence with a global network.’” One such company is Color Genomics, a medical diagnostic tool manufacturer. “We started Color to take things that were thought of as being incredibly expensive and hard, and doing them at large scale in a simpler way that uses more modern technology,” says Othman Laraki, Color’s CEO. Laraki understands that the appeal of such lifesaving technology is global and, while the company had no trouble attracting investors, he says that Mubadala brought something unique to the table. “We thought a lot about our international strategy and what kind of partnerships would help us expand, and we felt that they would bring a different DNA into our team,” he says. Color launched in Abu Dhabi in September, thanks in large part to connections made through Mubadala. Equally attractive to Laraki was the marriage of this global network with local expertise. “One thing that the Mubadala team has done was understanding the Silicon Valley– style diligence process,” he says. “Most investment groups outside the Valley have a hard time with that.” Mubadala’s global outlook doesn’t mean it’s not paying attention to what’s happening in the Valley, however. The San Francisco office it opened this year demonstrates its commitment to the world’s most vital tech hub. “Nothing is more impactful for a founder than knowing that his investor is as committed to the business as he or she is,” Ajami says. “That deep connection to the founder is why we are on the ground.” With a local footprint and global reach, Mubadala is ready to partner with the next generation of innovators to bring life-changing tech to markets around the world. As Ajami says, “Don’t underestimate what the power of this global access can do for Silicon Valley.”
PLANET ROCK “Mubadala will play a key role in transforming the tech world in coming years,” says Ibraham Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures.