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 Bloomberg article on Silicon Valley VCs frantically looking for investment from the Middle East

Bloomberg has a very interesting article on how Silicon Valley VCs are "frantically trying to get into parties held in the region by UAE and Saudi Arabian investors, without an invite"!

Read the full article below:

Tech VCs Resort to Party Crashing in Middle East During Downturn

An Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund and others have deep ties to Silicon Valley.

ByBiz Carson, Lizette Chapman and Mark Bergen
May 4, 2023 at 11:30 AM GMT+3:30

Silicon Valley has taken investment from moneyed state-run funds in the Middle East for years. Now that the technology industry is mired in a downturn, those relationships are becoming more desirable, and more visible.

In elite tech circles, connections to sovereign wealth funds are suddenly in-demand. Investors including Chamath Palihapitiya and Tribe Capital's Arjun Sethi have recently been spotted passing through the region. Ben Horowitz spoke at a major Saudi conference late last year. And one person who invests in VC funds said they'd seen multiple newer venture capitalists without an invite frantically trying to get into parties held in the region by United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabian investors.

The VCs' desperation, this person said, was poorly perceived by the Mideast investors, who value long-term relationships and were shocked by the party crashers. The person asked not to be identified discussing private information.

Relationships between VCs and their backers are usually private, particularly with overseas funds that value discretion. Some of those ties were made unusually public this spring when the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund's venture arm, Sanabil, took the rare step of listing names of the firms it has backed on its website. The more-than-$600 billion fund disclosed ties to tech's most elite firms, including Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia China, Founders Fund and Tiger Global. Tech news site the Information first reported some of the names.

But while Saudi Arabia has grabbed recent headlines, other players in the region have just as extensive exposure to venture capital, though they have so far been quieter about their relationships.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, or ADIA, has backed tech and biotech-focused venture firms for decades, including early investments in Peter Thiel's Founders Fund and Flagship Pioneering, a Massachusetts-based firm known as the investor behind Covid vaccine maker Moderna Inc. The fund also put money into Joe Lonsdale's 8VC, Josh Kushner's Thrive Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, according to multiple people familiar with the investments.

Founders Fund, Flagship Pioneering, 8VC, Thrive Capital and Andreessen Horowitz declined to comment for this story. ADIA said it could not make investment leaders available for an interview.

Meanwhile, another Abu Dhabi-based firm, Al Nawwar Investments RSC Limited, is trying to grow its existing stake in Sequoia Capital by purchasing FTX's share for $45 million, bankruptcy court filings show.

"While the spotlight has recently been on the power of the Gulf region, we've been doing this for a while," Ibrahim Ajami, head of ventures for Mubadala Capital, tweeted in April. Mubadala, a UAE-based investment fund, is known as one of the major backers of SoftBank's giant startup investment vehicle, the Vision Fund. "This is as much about liquidity as it is about picking the right partner for the long term," Ajami wrote.

Diversification away from oil is one of the main mandates for resource-rich Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds -- a mission that's driven massive amounts of capital toward the tech industry. Gulf investors are "preparing with urgency and with efficiency for the arrival of a post-oil economy," said Chicago-based blockchain investor Paul Hsu, who is pursuing startup deals in the region. Besides putting money into in VC firms, the sovereign wealth funds also invest directly in startups and often co-invest with firms they back. ADIA's private equity department, for example, made 40 direct investments in 2021, up from 25 in 2020, its annual report stated. That included 12 co-investments in early-stage startups with VC firms it supports.

Sethi, the Tribe Capital co-founder who recently made a trip to the region, said his investors include sovereign wealth funds and multi-family offices from Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. He said that Gulf investors are mindful of how the global tech industry can aid their own economies. "They want to see Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, etc. in their region," Sethi said, adding that interest from family offices has surged in the past few years. "They want to have companies in AI, space and infrastructure to expand into their markets."

The Gulf's richest families have also made their own venture investments. The UAE's Al Nahyan family -- the world's richest with a $300 billion fortune as calculated by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index -- has invested in startups including Rihanna's Savage X Fenty and Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, of Saudi Arabia's $105 billion Al Saud family fortune, was also an early backer of Musk's bid to take Twitter private.

Mideast sovereign wealth funds have long had a keen eye for investing in venture capital, said Paul Rose, a law professor at Ohio State University who studies sovereign wealth funds. But for a long time, they didn't want to disclose it. "The Gulf funds have been less transparent than other funds," Rose said. "They've kept their own counsel more than, say, the Norwegians."

The recent public listing of names on the Sanabil website was a departure from that stance, as well as a branding exercise for Saudi Arabia, Rose said. It's also a way to generate deal flow. "It kind of sends out this signal, to say, 'If you're a GP, we'll talk to you,'" he said.

There's another part to the branding: Showing off connections to Silicon Valley luminaries like Thiel, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz. In one photo showcasing the connections taken a few weeks before the slaying of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was photographed with a who's-who list of top tech investors, including Thiel, Horowitz, Andreessen, Sequoia's Michael Moritz, Kleiner Perkins' John Doerr and billionaire Greylock partner Reid Hoffman.

Although the international reaction to Khashoggi's killing in 2018 prompted many American business leaders to distance themselves from Saudi Arabia, that reticence appears to have cooled. In the fall, Horowitz took the stage at Saudi Arabia's FII conference, nicknamed "Davos in the Desert," and last month appeared again at a conference in Miami Beach to praise Saudi Arabia as a "startup country."

"Saudi has a founder," Horowitz said. "You don't call him a founder, you call him his royal highness." Horowitz also announced he'd be returning to the country -- this time with portfolio companies in tow.#

Filed under Dubai Family Offices

 Three Middle East investors among 18 investors helping Musk Twitter buyout

3middleeast.jpgThree Middle East investors are among 18 investors that are helping Elon Musk securing a total of $7.14 billion to fund his $44 billion takeover of Twitter - according to a SEC filing just released.

Dubai Vy Capital is investing $700 million, Qatar Holding is investing $375 million. Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud (Kingdom Holding Company) is committing 34,948,975 of his Twitter Inc shares in the new company (valued at $54.20 per share).

Kingdom Holding Company is listed in the Middle East Investors Directory with the code BFD84. Vy Capital with code JL48, Qatar Holding with code LIP09

 Dubai family office Kattan and a consortium invested $3 million in UK firm Uptime

hb uptime HB Investments, Dubai Based private investment office of Kattan family, and a consortium has acquired stake in Uptime , a London-based app featuring 5-minute knowledge hacks, for $3 million.

Uptime is an app that distills knowledge from leading books, courses and documentaries in 5-minute tappable stories. Among other investors in uptime you can find Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube and Chris Messina, hashtag inventor and open source advocate. HB Investments has made investments in startups like Clubhouse and Fresha with Huda Kattan as its Chairwoman.

HB Investments is listed in the Middle East Investors Directory with the code CM8

 Dubai Vy Capital and consortium acquired stake in US financial firm for $40 million

Dubai investor USADubai investors of Vy Capital and a consortium of global investors have acquired stake in Upgrade Inc, a San Francisco firm for $40 million.

Based in San Francisco, Upgrade has delivered over $3 billion in consumer credit through cards and loans since launch in 2017. Other investors in this round include Union Square Ventures, Ribbit, Silicon Valley Bank and Ventura Capital. Vy Capital is a Dubai investment firm based in DIFC and invests mainly in the internet and software sector. (more details about this deal is here)

To see a list and email addresses of investment firms similar to Vy Capital check the Middle East Investors Directory.

 Dubai family offices of Al Serkal and Al Ghussain acquired stake in online firm Bloovo.com for $3 million

bloovo investorsA consortium of Middle East investors have acquired stake in the online recruitment platform Bloovo.com for $3 million.

Established in 2016, Bloovo.com is an online recruitment website having around 1,800 employers as of May 2017. It is adopting data science and algorithms in the recruitment process as a means of eliminating the job mismatch problem. (Noble Partners led this investment round along with other investors including ProCapita HR Consultancy and Sulaiman Al Rubaie from Kuwait, Al Shafar, Al Serkal and Al Ghussain families from the UAE and Mohamad Moosa Abdulrahman Investment Office from Oman).

To see listing and email addresses of investors from the Middle East, check the Middle East Investors Directory.

More details follows from Khaleej Times

Filed under Dubai Family Offices

 Dubai's Al Habtoor Family Office acquired UK hotel Hilton Wembley

habtoor-dubai.jpgDubai conglomerate Al Habtoor Group has acquired UK Hilton Hotel Wembley.

The purchase brings the total number of hotels in Al Habtoor Investment's international property portfolio to six. In December 2015 Al Habtoor said he had allocated around $600 million for overseas investments in 2016. (As DubaiBeat.com reported earlier, the groups was looking to buy hotels across Europe).

(To see more Dubai-based investors like Habtoor Group, check our investors directory)

More details follows

 Dubai Al Ahli Family Office acquired US media company theAudience

al-ahli-los-angeles.jpgDubai investors of Al Ahli Holding Group acquired theAudience, a Los Angeles social media publishing firm.

Established in 2011 and with 75 employees, theAudience is a publisher of social and digital content. It syndicates more than 5,000 pieces of branded content each month to more than 1 billion consumers through its network of more than 6,000 celebrities and influencers. With around 9,000 employees, Al Ahli Holding Group is headquartered in the UAE, with representative offices across 20 countries globally. The deal amount in not disclosed. (According to The New York Times, Mohammed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding called CEO of theAudience out of the blue about nine weeks ago and the deal was concluded in about half that time.)

To see listing and email addresses of Dubai investors similar to Al Ahli Holding, check our Middle East Investors Directory.

More details follows:

Filed under Dubai Family Offices

 Dubai family office Al Zamil and consortium invested $11 million in online logistics firm

zamil-fetchr.jpgMiddle East family offices Al Kadi and Al Zamil, UAE investment firm Dhabi Holding and Dubai investment firm Delta Partners, as part of a consortium invested $11 million in the online logistics firm The Fetchr.

This series A funding is led by US venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates. The Fetchr's app is tailored for package delivery in places and countries where there are unreliable physical addresses. Fetchr delivers 97 percent of packages same day or overnight, and a return process that picks up within 30 minutes.

Al Zamil Family Office is listed in the Middle East Investors Directory with the code BFD34.

More details follows

More from Dubai Family Offices ...

  Dubai private equity firm Investra acquired Riverside Business Park UK for $19 million

  UAE family office to finance $120 million hotel project in Antigua

  Fajr Capital and Dubai family office consortium acquired NPS for more than $500 million

  Arlington family office consortium invested $450 million in UK student accommodation

  Dubai's Al-Futtaim Family Office Plans $1 Billion Investments in Global Assets

  Dubai's Habtoor family office group to buy Hotels in Europe

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