Temasek-backed Openspace Ventures closes third S-E Asia fund at US$200m

Singapore

OPENSPACE Ventures, backed by Temasek Holdings, has closed its third South-east Asia fund at US$200 million as the venture capital (VC) firm seeks to replicate its successes in startups across the region. The amount boosts the Singapore-based firm's total committed capital under management to US$425 million across three funds, co-founders Shane Chesson and Hian Goh said. Investors in the new fund include Germany's DEG, Norway's Norfund, US asset manager 57 Stars and Japan's Mizuho Financial Group.

Openspace was among the earliest investors in Gojek as well as Biofourmis. The startup last year secured US$100 million from backers led by SoftBank Group, nearly tripling its valuation. Its first, US$90 million fund has returned 35.3 per cent. "Our peers may do more deals, but our hit rate has been high," said Mr Chesson.

Mr Chesson and Mr Goh launched Openspace, then known as NSI Ventures, in 2014, when Singapore's VC industry was still at its nascent stages. Since then, the industry has boomed. Assets under management by South-east Asia-focused VC firms grew to US$8.9 billion in 2019, a six-fold increase from 2010, according to Preqin. They raised US$2 billion in 2019, up from US$100 million in 2010.

The two partners had become friends while studying at Insead in Singapore in 2004. Mr Goh then founded the Asia Food Channel, which he later sold to Scripps Networks Interactive for about US$66 million, while Mr Chesson worked on tech deals at Citigroup in Hong Kong.

They started investing as angel investors and in 2013 made a pitch to Dilhan Pillay, who at that time was part of Temasek's enterprise development group, on working together to grow Singapore's fledgling startup ecosystem.

The coffee meeting with Mr Pillay, now set to take over as the investment firm's CEO in October, led to a series of official pitches and discussions with other teams at Temasek.

Around 2014, Temasek decided to pump US$90 million into four local VC firms - NSI Ventures, Monk's Hill Ventures, Jungle Ventures and Golden Gate Ventures - to help grow the industry. The firms have all launched bigger funds in recent years, giving birth to companies like Carousell, valued at US$850 million. BLOOMBERG

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