Venture capital firm Vickers Venture Partners, headed by Dr. Finian Tan, has very recently closed its fifth and largest fundraising round.
Vickers raised a whopping total of $230 million in pledged capital, which includes $40 million held in a yuan-denominated vehicle. This is considered the largest venture capital funding to be raised and operated in Southeast Asia.
According to a data compiled by Preqin, a source of data and intelligence for the alternative assets industry, the net value of Vickers’ fourth fund ballooned 4.59 times, and this made it the world’s best performance compared to those that were established in 2012.
Tan said in an interview that the global fund is laid out along geographic lines, along with Southeast Asia, India, and China. However, the investment firm is now focused on “deep technology,” derived from Tan’s own words.
“We are focusing on deep tech and impact. That means it’s a business with a patent and hard for competitors to copy. In emerging markets, we are in digital wallet and health, which we can measure by the number of lives we affect,” said Tan in an interview.
Tan also stated that the new fund has already made other various investments since it first announced its $63.5 million first closing in July last year.
Moreover, Tan said suggested that the fifth funding is set to address what he called the Southeast Asia’s funding “barbell,” in which there is a lack in mid-stage growth funding among Southeast Asian startups. Venture capital firms in the area tend to go towards early-stage deals or a bunch of late-stage transactions. He said that the firm will be investing on deals that would normally be under the ranges of series A to C in the region.
“There are a lot of early stage funds – US$30 million, US$50 million, US$80 million funds –that have recently sprouted. And then at the late stage you have strategics like Tencent, Alibaba, SoftBank Vision – the big boys, including private equity, coming in,” said Tan, adding that when it comes to funds ranging from $50 million to $500 million, it becomes empty. “You need those guys to come in and fill the gaps. So that is a great opportunity, and it is timely for some of these high performing funds, like ours, to raise larger ones.
Vickers is not the first and only firm to have called attention to the “funding barbell’ in the region. Gobi Partners’ founder Thomas Tsao also talked about the existence of the “barbell” during the launch of his firm’s most recent Southeast Asian vehicle in August.
Gobi’s Meranti ASEAN Growth Fund has a fundraising target of $200 million, and is planning to invest in around 15 to 20 companies at series B and C.
Vickers’ portfolio consists of a range of different companies.
In 2012, Vickers started investing in Samumed LLC, a San Diego-based regenerative medicine company. Samumed was last valued at $12 billion. Vickers is the only venture capital firm backing the medicine company, which has family offices as its primary funding sources.
Among other companies are KPISOFT Inc, and Sisaf. KPISOFT is currently targeting an initial public offering in the United States in the first quarter of next year, while Sisaf, which is a biotech firm, aims to improve drug administration.
The portfolio also includes lifestyle and fitness startup GuavaPass, digital payment company MatchMove Pay, and a foreign exchange platform.
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