German media giant Hubert Burda is diving into Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem after its investment arm opened an office in Singapore.
Burda, founded in 1898, is anchored in print media. Despite publishing more than 250 titles across the world, it has forayed into digital with some success through acquisitions and new business units. Unlike other print giants, its digital businesses account for more than half of its revenue while it has pursued an investment thesis worldwide, which included equity in Etsy.
Now it is expanding its presence in Southeast Asia, where it had initially dipped its toes via a series of deals. Burda is an LP in VC funds Golden Gate Ventures, Jungle Ventures and Kejora Ventures, while it has made direct investments in Medical Departures, Thailand-based price comparison site Priza and Vietnamese search service Coc Coc.
Burda Principal Investments‘ presence in Asia will be led by Albert Shyy, who has joined the firm from GREE, where he led the Japanese gaming company’s investment arm in Southeast Asia and India. In total, the firm has an initial staff of three based in Singapore.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Shyy explained that he is looking to do three to five deals per year, principally around the Series B stage with a minimum check size of around $5 million. The money itself comes from Burda’s global fund, which is not like most others. For a start, Burda is the sole LP while it is “evergreen” — meaning that the company tops it up annually — although its actual size is not disclosed.
That investment focus means Burda will complement the VC funds it invested in, and provide much needed financial firepower for Series B deals in Southeast Asia. Aside from B Capital, started by Singapore-based former Facebook co-founder Eduard Saverin, sources for late stage capital after Series A are harder to find.
Burda has made its name in media, but Shyy said its investment thesis goes beyond that.
“Media is one focus for us, but because we can be strategy or financial investors there’s more scope,” he explained. “We’re definitely looking at consumer-facing companies — that’s been the preferred space for Burda — we’ve done deals with marketplaces and e-commerce, in particular in Europe, so that’s a model.”
“We would want to target market leaders or those who can show market leadership in their country,” he added, explaining that capital could be used to invest into new verticals or geographies.
Singapore is Burda Principal Investments’ second office worldwide, and its first outside of Germany. Asia isn’t the only expansion on its radar, however. The firm is in the process of opening an office in London over the next few months, while a New York base is in its plans, too.
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