Kickstart Ventures, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Globe Telecom, was chosen by Ayala Corporation (AC) to manage its new $150 million venture capital fund to support startups pursuing innovations along key technology areas in data and analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, fintech, automation, real estate, retail, transport, energy, water, health and wellness, and food. The Ayala Corporation Technology Innovation Venture (ACTIVE) Fund is looking at a range of investments in Series A to Series C or early- to mid-growth stage across four key investment themes: (1) ‘A Frictionless Future;’ (2) ‘From Automation to Augmentation;’ (3) ‘Innovations in Real Estate;’ and (4) ‘A World of Plenty’.
As sole manager of ACTIVE Fund, Kickstart is responsible for seeking companies that offer innovative, scalable, sustainable solutions for the seamless integration of digital and traditional channels such as On-Demand Services, IoT, FinTech, Blockchain, E-Commerce and Omni-Channel as well as the automation and augmentation applications for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Big Data and Analytics, and Cloud Computing.
Other target companies are those that provide green and inclusive technologies such as Clean Energy/Energy Storage/Distributed Energy, Environmental Tech/Waste Management; and smart technologies for homes, buildings, communities, property management, retail tech, and similar use cases.
“While ACTIVE Fund will invest in tech companies not only in the Philippines but also abroad, our focus will be on systems and solutions, rather than pure technology,” said Minette Navarrete, President of Kickstart. “Our investment themes reflect our perspective that technology and innovation are a means to positively influence the future we want to build rather than ends in themselves. By investing in solutions that can scale sustainably, and pairing equity with strategic support, we can put Ayala Corporation’s assets to work in a different way, forging a future that is frictionless, symbiotic, equitable, and boldly efficient,” she explained.
Kickstart was launched in 2012 to support the Philippine startup ecosystem and has so far made 39 investments in digital companies, supporting 83 founders across the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, United States, Canada, and Israel. ACTIVE Fund will be its third and largest fund to date.
Kickstart investments include Toronto-based startup Wattpad, recently in the news for having inked significant content deals with Sony Pictures Television, Singapore’s Mediacorp, and the Philippines’ Anvil Publishing; Indonesia’s C88, which announced a $28M Series C round last year; and the Philippines’ Coins.ph, which was recently acquired by Indonesia’s Go-Jek.
On the other hand, Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu reflects on how venture capital has become a vital part of Globe Telecom’s future. “Globe is animating its digital transformation via a corporate culture that is more entrepreneurial, more customer-focused and executing with speed and precision. We are engineering Globe to be more than a telco; it is now a platform upon which our business partners can grow, and individual consumers can depend on to provide access to the best digital lifestyle options. Corporate venture capital through Kickstart Ventures has been an important part of bringing more startup partnerships to Globe. We’re excited to work with Ayala Corporation to support the Group-wide digital transformation,” he said.
Earlier, AC announced the creation of ACTIVE Fund which leverages the breadth of the Ayala conglomerate—Ayala Corporation and affiliates Globe Telecom, BPI, Ayala Land, AC Industrials, Manila Water, AC Energy, and AC Infrastructure, which are also leaders in their respective fields.
“We offer more firepower, greater access, and the potential for partnerships across multiple industries through this one fund. It is simpler for potential investees to navigate and more collaborative for ourselves to operate,” said Ayala Corporation CFO Jose Teodoro Limcaoco.
Ayala Corporation Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala indicated the role he wants AC to play with the new business landscape, “The Group continues to thrive and grow, and our business units are serving the needs of more Filipinos than ever before. At the same time, we are well aware that new technologies and business models are disrupting established industries globally: the pace of innovation is astounding. We are determined that Ayala Corporation will play a role in the transformation of industries—not as a bystander, but as an innovation catalyst.”
The fund also builds on the optimism around the Philippines and Southeast Asia: a recent report co-authored by Google and Temasek predicts that the SEA region’s digital economy will triple to reach $240 billion by 2025; and the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook predicts that Philippine GDP per capita will breach US$4,000 for the first time in 2022, improving discretionary spend at both corporate and consumer levels, and opening opportunities for further investments in infrastructure, services, and products.
In view of global, regional, and national trends, Ayala is being well-positioned with digital capabilities across all its businesses as the Philippines and Southeast Asia economies grow.