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Ayala picks Kickstart Ventures to manage $150-M Capital Fund

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By Emmie V. Abadilla

Ayala Corporation (AC) chose Kickstart Ventures, Inc. to manage its new $150-million venture capital fund for startups in 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 wants to invest 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 seeks companies offering solutions for the integrating 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.

It also targets companies providing green and inclusive technologies.

Kickstart, a Globe Telecom wholly-owned subsidiary, was launched in 2012 to support the Philippine startup ecosystem. So far, it has 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.

“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,” Minette Navarrete, Kickstart President clarified.

“Our investment themes reflect our perspective that technology and innovation 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 put Ayala Corporation’s assets to work in a different way, forging a future that is frictionless, symbiotic, equitable and efficient.”

Kickstart investments include Toronto-based startup Wattpad, which recently made 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, as well as the Philippines’ Coins.ph, recently acquired by Indonesia’s Go-Jek.

Notably, venture capital has become a vital part of the future of Kickstart’s parent firm, Globe Telecom.

“Globe is animating its digital transformation via a corporate culture that is more entrepreneurial, more customer focused,” according to President and CEO Ernest Cu.

“We are engineering Globe to be more than a telco. It is now a platform upon which our business partners can grow. Consumers can depend on it to access digital lifestyle options. Corporate venture capital through Kickstart Ventures has been an important part of bringing more startup partnerships to Globe.”

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,” remarked Ayala Corporation CFO Jose Teodoro Limcaoco.

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