The hunt for the next Canva continues as Blackbird Ventures reveals new, billion-dollar startup funding plan

Blackbird Ventures offices. Source: Supplied

Homegrown venture capital powerhouse Blackbird Ventures has unveiled plans to raise at least $1 billion in the coming months, as it eyes investment in early-stage startups and renewed stakes in its big-name winners.

Speaking to The Australian, general partner Nick Crocker confirmed earlier reports that Blackbird hopes to raise a ten-figure sum in 2022, building on the success of 2020’s $500 million Australian startup fund.

The prospective raise will split into three categories, the paper reports: a fund of between $200 million and $300 million, dedicated to Australian startups; a fund of up to $138 million targeted at Kiwi startups; and a broader cash splash of up to $1.3 billion, topping up Blackbird’s interest in proven industry juggernauts.

While Blackbird did not detail which heavy-hitters it hopes to target with its top-up fund, the investment firm is famed for its early stakes in Canva, Safety Culture, Safety Amp, and Zoox.

In December, Blackbird revealed it had successfully grown $1.3 billion in investment into a $10 billion portfolio. 

Beyond its intention to maximise its stakes in those tech and software innovators, Crocker said the firm will also intensify its focus on early-stage startups — a clear attempt to latch on to the next Canva before it becomes a household name.

It’s a common refrain from Blackbird, whose co-founder, Niki Scevak, last year told SmartCompany, “We want to be the first cheque in to a company”.

“We want to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in the beginning,” he added. “We want to invest in startups that don’t have product and don’t have revenue.”

News of Blackbird’s new funding intention arrives at a curious time for tech investment, as inflation fears and broader socio-political turmoil have seen listed tech giants tumble in value from their 2021 highs.

However, Crocker said interest in funding Australia’s next superstar entrepreneur remains “quite wild”.

The numbers certainly back that viewpoint.

Influential industry newsletter Cut Through Venture reports February 2022 was the second-largest funding month on record, with $1.6 billion in funding flowing to Australian startups.

If that trajectory keeps up, ANZstartup funding in 2022 could easily surpass the $10 billion mark recorded in 2021.

While $692 million of February’s funding was wrapped in buy now, pay later contender Scalapay’s Series B round, Cut Through Venture reports the largest number of funding activities occurred in the $1 million-$4.9 million range.

That, too, speaks to Blackbird’s ethos. In The Australian, Crocker said startups that are so new they don’t even have dedicated bank accounts are the investment firm’s “sweet spot.”

Blackbird Ventures was contacted for comment.

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