With commitments from some of Australia’s largest institutional investors, venture capital (VC) firm Blackbird has raised the country’s largest ever VC fund at just over $1 billion.
AustralianSuper, Hostplus, HESTA, Aware Super, Telstra Super, NGS and the Future Fund were among the investors in the new fund, alongside New Zealand’s sovereign wealth funds, the New Zealand Growth Capital Partners Elevate fund and ACC, and over 270 individual investors, many of whom were said to be tech founders and operators themselves.
“In a great circle of life moment, we’re proud to welcome some of the founders we backed in earlier funds as investors in this new fund,” said Blackbird partner Rick Baker.
“Our mission has been to help catalyse the startup community in Australia and New Zealand and this is a wonderful example of how our startup ecosystem is maturing and founders are investing back into the community.”
The VC fund had its first close in May, with subsequent closes bringing the total above the target of $1 billion. It consists of a $284 million core fund, a $668 million follow-on fund and NZ$75 million dedicated New Zealand fund.
Investments have already been made in 18 start-ups in Australia and New Zealand, including wellbeing company Sonder, and data and AI-driven infrastructure platform, Spice AI.
“Our investment approach isn’t changing, we are still investing at the earliest stages and the majority of our first investments are made before there is revenue,” explained Blackbird partner Nick Crocker.
“This new fund gives us the privilege to invest in even more founders from the beginning, to give them the first capital they need to get started and then hopefully at every stage that follows.”
Blackbird launched its first $29 million fund in 2012, investing in the first rounds for Canva, Culture Amp, SafetyCulture and other companies that have made an ‘outsized impact’ on the Australian technology ecosystem.
The firm has now predicted that tech companies will contribute one-fifth to the nation’s GDP by 2032, from less than half of that currently.
“The Aussie tech sector’s economic contribution has increased 79 per cent since 2016, and our 2.2 per cent share of unicorn companies well exceeds our 1.6 per cent of global GDP,” Blackbird partner Niki Scevak said.
“In 2032, we believe Australia and New Zealand’s five most valuable companies will be technology companies, and that the direct and indirect contribution of the technology sector will be more than $300 billion — bigger than mining, manufacturing or construction.”
Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.