Founders of Aussie unicorn Airwallex unveil $200 million VC fund

Airwallex co-founders Xijing Dai, Jack Zhang, Lucy Liu and Max Li. Source: supplied.

The founders of Aussie fintech unicorn Airwallex have launched their own venture capital fund, with the aim of raising $200 million for investment into up-and-coming startups.

The fund, Capital 49, will focus on backing early-stage, high-growth startups that are connected to the Airwallex ecosystem, including in e-commerce, Software-as-a-Service, digital technologies, business services and fintech.

Founded in Melbourne in 2015, Airwallex is a fintech designed to make cross-border payments easier, more transparent and more cost-effective for businesses.

The startup has raised hundreds of millions in venture capital, and at last count — in March 2021 — had a valuation of US$2.6 billion ($3.4 billion), a number that tripled in the space of two years.

It also has more than 800 employees based across 12 offices, globally.

The new fund is partly intended to help support new tech companies on their own global growth journeys.

In a statement, Airwallex co-founder and chief Jack Zhang said the founders’ experience of being embedded in the fintech and startup ecosystem showed them how businesses with a clear tech advantage stand out from the competition.

“That is why we are committed to invest in and foster the growth of tech-enabled companies, particularly at a time where there is huge appetite for innovative solutions to enhance business efficiencies,” he said.

It’s also a way of giving back to a community that has helped the fintech giant become such a success story.

“Airwallex could not have achieved what it has today if not for the players within our ecosystem,” Zhang said.

“We will continue to empower businesses to grow without borders by providing them access to capital, a global network and deep insights and expertise, while ensuring we continue to generate financial returns for our investors.”

More details are expected to be announced towards the end of 2021.

Airwallex isn’t the first local tech company to create its own venture arm. In September last year, Atlassian launched a $70 million fund for investment into early-stage startups building apps for its cloud products.

The fund has since invested in the likes of Trello tool Hipporello, Confluence note-taking tool Meetical and pre-sales platform Vivun, as well as larger partners like Slack, Zoom and InVision.

This all plays into a broader trend in the ecosystem, and the knock-on effect of successful local tech companies.

We have seen the emergence of startups headed up by early employees of Atlassian and Canva, for example.

At the same time, local tech leaders are investing as angels, and just last month a group of local founders, leaders and investors clubbed together to form the Aussie arm of early-stage investment group The Fund.

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