Blackbird raises mammoth $1b venture capital fund to back next generation of founders

Blackbird raises mammoth $1b venture capital fund to back next generation of founders

Blackbird Partners (L-R): Roby Denholm, Nick Crocker, Alex Apoifis, Rick Baker, Niki Scevak and Samantha Wong. Credit: Anna Kucera.

Venture capital firm Blackbird today announced it has raised a new $1 billion fund, with the capital to back emerging startups in Australia and New Zealand.

The fund, which Blackbird claims is ‘Australia’s largest’, had its first close in May, with subsequent closes bringing the total above the target $1 billion.

Investors include several of Australia’s largest superannuation funds such as AustralianSuper, Hostplus, HESTA, Aware Super, Telstra Super and NGS. Other backers include Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, The Future Fund, and New Zealand’s sovereign wealth funds, New Zealand Growth Capital Partners Elevate Fund and ACC.

Blackbird says the fund is also supported by more than 270 individual investors, many of whom are tech founders and operators themselves who received backing from Blackbird early in their own journies.

“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,” says 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 new fund has already made 18 investments into startups operating in industries like AI, manufacturing and e-commerce, and include companies such as student wellbeing firm Sonder and AI-driven infrastructure platform Spice AI.

Blackbird partner Nick Crocker says the new fund will maintain the venture capital firm’s current approach to investing in startups at an early stage.

“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,” Crocker says.

“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.”

For Blackbird, the latest fund debuts a decade after its first ever $29 million fund, which invested in the first rounds of some Australian companies which have gone on to become hugely successful.

These include the likes of Canva, Culture Amp, SafetyCulture and others which have made a major impact on the Australian technology ecosystem.

Blackbird partner Samantha Wong hopes the firm will be able to back yet another generation of Australian technology founders with this latest $1 billion fund.

“Over the past decade, we have seen generational companies forming from across Australia and New Zealand - companies that are now used by 1 in 17 people who access the internet, that have punched above their weight on the world stage, and that employ thousands of Australians and New Zealanders,” says Wong.

“In the next decade, employees will take their experiences from these companies and start the next generation of companies that follow, and Blackbird will be there to partner with them.”

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