Powering the Tech Revolution
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Every day more and more people are investing in tech startups and it isn’t stopping anytime soon. Investor David Gowdey has been working in the technology space across India and Southeast Asia for 20 years. After 12 years of doing mergers and acquisitions (M&A) at Yahoo! and then four years of doing tech investments at global private equity firm, TPG Capital, Gowdey is now a managing partner at Jungle Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital firm focused on internet and technology investments in Southeast Asia. At Jungle Ventures Gowdey invests at the Series A and B stage across Asia. Given his background at Yahoo!, he focuses more on consumer tech businesses, like Abra and iflix. Gowdey picks the top three bets from Jungle’s portfolio.
Global investment app Based in Mountain View, California, Abra is now a household name in the crypto industry because they allow consumers to securely buy, store, and invest in 30 cryptocurrencies, 50 fiat currencies, and very soon global stocks and ETFs (exchange-traded fund) — all from one app and with no trading fees. “It is our only portfolio company that was based out of the US when we invested, which is typically challenging because as an early stage investor we want to have as much interaction with the team as possible, however in the case of Abra we had a tremendous amount of confidence in the founder, Bill Barhydt. Bill has worked with the CIA, NASA, Goldman Sachs, Netscape, etc., during his career. He is a global thought leader in the crypto space and we saw it as a great opportunity to learn from him about this category,” says Gowdey. After largely been focused on the US market, Abra will be expanding to consumers around the globe this year. “They’ve managed to make the interface very simple and easy to use, despite there being an enormous amount of complexity happening behind the scenes.”
Marketplace for investment research As the world of banks continues to evolve, one of the areas that has increased regulations is around how they are providing research to their clients. In 2018, MiFID II, the European Union regulations came into force and that unbundled payments for research from trading commissions, which historically had lacked transparency. SmartKarma is a Singapore-based research marketplace that provides independent contributors a platform to publish their research content. Clients pay one subscription for unlimited access to a pool of hundreds of insight providers. Those contributors now cover more than 3,600 companies globally. “We love this business because it’s providing small independent analysts with a means to reach a global community of buy-side clients,” he says. It launched its London office in 2017.
On-demand entertainment for the masses Content piracy is primarily driven by lack of availability and an affordable price point. For consumers in emerging markets, who have a linear TV entertainment experience, there are limited options for entertainment, but they all now have smart phones. That backdrop was the original thesis behind iflix, which is now the leading video entertainment platform across the emerging markets. Gowdey explains the Malaysia-based company has been specifically designed to address the needs of consumers in markets like Indonesia, Thailand and the Middle East. “They now offer the widest and most compelling selection of TV shows, movies, hyper local originals, premium live sports and up-to-the-minute news from around the world. It’s become a phenomenal business that has attracted world-class talent and investors, like Sky, Hearst and Liberty Media. We are super excited about the scale that they can reach across their 22 markets,” says Gowdey. The content of iflix is available on a "download play later" basis, so that it can be consumed, on any internet connected device.