SYDNEY AUSTRALIA — 14 March 2013 — Blackbird Ventures (www.blackbird.vc) today announced the formation and first close of its $30 million venture capital fund. The fund will invest in Australian Internet startups and help them succeed on a global stage. Blackbird brings together Startmate, Southern Cross Venture Partners, and prominent founders of highly successful local companies including Atlassian, Campaign Monitor and Aconex.
The majority of the Fund’s capital has been raised in a first close focused on industry insiders, including over 35 successful Australian tech founders and Silicon Valley venture capitalists like Bill Tai and Dave McClure, all of whom are investing not only their money but also their time to help Australian startups succeed. Other investors will have the opportunity to participate before the Fund’s final close later in the year.
Blending experience and a passion for entrepreneurship, the local management team consists of: Niki Scevak, founder of Australian accelerator Startmate; Rick Baker who ran venture investing at MLC; and Bill Bartee, co-founder of Southern Cross Venture Partners. They are assisted in Silicon Valley by Southern Cross partner, John Scull, who sits on the Investment Committee.
Blackbird co-founder Niki Scevak said “The essential ingredients of Blackbird are successful founders helping the next wave of Australian startups. We’re bringing the same experience we have seen work at Startmate in the initial months of a startup’s life to more developed companies at the next stage.”
“Today is a huge day for the Australian technology industry and I’m excited to be involved with Blackbird because it represents a truly founder-led effort in helping startups,” said Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of Atlassian. Cannon-Brookes, while also being a major investor in the fund, will join as a venture partner and advise the firm and investee companies.
“Being an investor in the Blackbird fund gives me an opportunity to support and be an active participant in the Australian technology industry,” said Bardia Housman, whose last company, Business Catalyst, sold to Adobe. “It’s made up of a wide array of successful industry people and entrepreneurs spanning both Australia and Silicon Valley. We will be able to add tremendous value to aspiring Australian entrepreneurs who want to build global businesses.”
Blackbird also has strong links to Silicon Valley. “We have a strong focus on businesses that we can help inject into the Silicon Valley ecosystem to connect them with expertise, customers and sources of finance,” said Rick Baker, co-founder of Blackbird. “The combination of our partnership with Sydney-Palo Alto based Southern Cross Ventures and our strong network of Silicon Valley advisors and venture capitalists means we’re in an excellent position to do this.”
Well known Silicon Valley investor, Bill Tai, a partner at CRV and angel investor said, “Blackbird Ventures has placed itself in the vortex of the tech scene in Australia through its founder community, LPs and startup network from past investments. As more capital looks to fuel the growing number of world class startups from Australia, Blackbird is positioned to be the trusted investment partner for the US VC ecosystem as they have become for me.”
Blackbird co-founder and partner at Southern Cross Venture Partners, Bill Bartee, said, “Southern Cross is thrilled to be teaming up to form Blackbird Ventures, which is set up specifically to invest in fast growing, capital light models in the Internet, software and mobile spaces”. The management team believes there is a real gap in the Australian venture capital market: while there is funding for small angel rounds, there are very few professional investors focussing on the next stage where Blackbird will predominately play.
Blackbird’s first investments include Canva and Ninja Blocks. It expects to make around 25 investments from the fund.