Saudi Arabia's massive Public Investment Fund has become active in tech startup investing

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This article is a crosspost with CB Insights.

Over the last year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced a number of economic diversification initiatives to lessen its economic dependence on oil. The Saudi government intends to take the oil titan Saudi Aramco public, and turn the business from “an oil producing company into a global industrial conglomerate,” according to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic plan.

Additionally, the government intends to turn the country’s Public Investment Fund, already one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds into a major tech investor. As part of that drive, it has announced that the Public Investment Fund would partner with Japan’s SoftBank Group in order to create a $100B tech investment fund in October 2016. Separately, SoftBank Group has pledged to invest $50B in US companies, as part of a handshake agreement between SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and then President-elect Donald Trump.

Given the rising profile of Saudi investors, we used the CB Insights Business Social Graph, which maps relationships between investors and target companies, to map out a network of 25 Saudi Arabian investors as well as their private market investments between 2012 and 2016.

We include investors, both public and private, that are headquartered within Saudi Arabia.

We chose to exclude investors that were headquartered in other countries (albeit with a connection to Saudi Arabia), or investors that were jointly owned by entities from other nations in addition to Saudi Arabia-based owners. Although we recognize that other investment entities located in, or related to Saudi Arabia exist, such such as AlTouq Group, Rajhi Invest, and KBW Investments, we excluded such entities from our analysis due to lack of publicly available information.

In the graph below, investments are denoted by green lines, acquisitions by orange lines.

Note: Hellofood is listed as both a company (in plain text) and an investor (marked with the company’s logo). Raed Ventures is included in the image below, but its recent investment in Melltoo Marketplace, an online platform for buying and selling, was not included as it took place in January 2017.

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