Silicon Valley-based tech investor Plug and Play Tech Center, an early backer of firms including Dropbox Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc., is looking to raise $100 million to invest in Saudi tech startups, potentially with backing from a unit of the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund.
The venture firm is currently in talks with Jada, a $1 billion fund of funds established by the Saudi wealth fund to help kick-start the domestic venture capital industry, Saeed Amidi, the firm’s founder and CEO, said in an interview in Riyadh.
“We are not going to lower our standards,” he said. “We invest in the US, Germany — our quality control is not going to change just because it’s Saudi Arabia, and if I cannot find startups as high quality I will not invest.”
The fund is set to be launched by January, with Plug and Play contributing as much as 10% of the total and the rest raised from Saudi funds and family offices, he said. Plug and Play is starting the fund because the quality of Saudi startups has improved over the past few years, Amidi said.
Saudi Arabia is looking to promote entrepreneurs and the venture capital industry as part of push to diversify its oil dependent economy and create private sector jobs. Jada also backed a $50 million Middle East fund managed by Hambro Perks Ltd. in 2021.
Plug and Play manages a portfolio of five funds, totaling $500 million, and has plans to establish five more, Amidi said.