A $200 Million Bet on Brazilian Tech Start-Ups Amid Political Upheaval

RIO DE JANEIRO — The Latin American venture capital firm Kaszek Ventures has raised a $200 million fund, its largest, a major vote of confidence for internet start-ups in Brazil amid the political upheaval there.

The new fund, which the firm is expected to announce this week, is about 48 percent larger than the firm’s second and most recent fund, which was $135 million and was marketed in late 2013.

Kaszek is based in Buenos Aires, but it made about two-thirds of its investments in start-ups in Brazil in its first two funds, and that is expected to continue.

“We believe that Brazil will still be the largest recipient of our capital and where we invest the most,” Nicolás Szekasy, one of the firm’s two founding partners, said in a recent interview.

American investors in the new fund include Sequoia Heritage, the fund of funds linked with the Silicon Valley stalwart Sequoia Capital, and the Dietrich Foundation, based in Pittsburgh.

Kevin Efrusy, a partner with Accel, responsible for its early investment in Facebook, also put in capital. He said that he had done so in all three Kaszek funds in an individual capacity apart from Accel, even as that firm had continued to be active in Brazil under his stewardship.

Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, faces fresh corruption allegations and his survival is in doubt.

That uncertainty has also jeopardized Brazil’s economic recovery, which until recently was taking root in small ways but depends on the enactment of major economic changes.

Kaszek though is bullish on internet entrepreneurs in Brazil, as are other firms.

The firm expects use of the internet to increase in fields like banking and agriculture and greater mobile penetration. Some of its companies have grown between 50 and 100 percent in revenue in one of Brazil’s worst recessions, its partners said.

Kaszek’s first two funds focused on marketplaces, financial technology and software as a service. Now it will add agriculture technology, education and health care.

The other founding partner, Hernán Kazah, said that the crisis in Brazil has resulted in “more committed entrepreneurs,” or those starting companies because they really want to.

Kaszek’s backers similarly take the long view.

Sequoia Heritage, whose funds include money from Sequoia Capital’s partners and outside investors, largely Sequoia entrepreneurs, increased its investment in the new fund compared with the second fund, according to Keith Johnson, Sequoia Heritage’s chief investment officer.

“I still think more people will be buying goods and services online in 10 years in Brazil than are today regardless,” he said.

The asset manager Hall Capital Partners, which backed Kaszek’s Fund II, also increased its contribution in absolute dollars in the new fund, according to Laura Andron, a principal at the firm, which is based in San Francisco.

For these limited partners, this is the right time to invest.

Edward J. Grefenstette, president and chief executive of The Dietrich Foundation, said that although Brazil’s macroeconomic and political environments are volatile, “if you wait for the ‘all clear’ sign, then you’ve probably missed an attractive entry point. “

Kaszek is the first venture capital firm in Latin America backed by the foundation, a charitable trust made possible by William S. Dietrich II, which has roughly $800 million in assets under management, with 47 percent of that in venture capital funds. It also invested in the firm’s second fund.

Even as Brazil remains the focus, Kaszek’s partners say they plan to increasingly look at Mexico and Colombia, too. Argentina will also continue to be important. they said.

Mr. Szekasy said that “there’s also been good progress in the technology ecosystems in Mexico and Colombia, and we’re also quite bullish on the Argentine economy.”

With the new fund, Kaszek ranks 43rd globally among venture capital fund managers that started in 2011 or later by aggregate capital raised, according to the data firm Preqin. It is the only firm from Latin America in the top 50.

Fonte: NYT

Sobre o autor

Thiago Ermano

Jornalista, Networker e Consultor de Reputação da agência Comunicar Bem. Tem passagens pela Rede Globo, Rede Record, TV Cultura, Folha de S. Paulo, Editora Abril, Fundação Getulio Vargas de São Paulo (FGV-SP) e FIESP. É empreendedor serial e colabora para o desenvolvimento do ecossistema de startups no Brasil. www.comunicarbem.com.br

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