Blackbird is Australia’s leading capital firm that invests in various enterprise technology, healthcare, deep tech, hardware and consumer-based companies. They are a hub for start-ups, providing operational and financial support and transforming their businesses into world class. The venture capital firm provides seed for emerging entrepreneurs by incubating and investing into these companies at their early and later stages of development.
Its investors are from successful start-ups in Australia and Silicon Valley. In 2012, Blackbird Ventures was created by Larry Marshall. Presently, the company is being run by co-founders Bill Bartee and Rick Baker both holding the managing directors’ position at the company. Their primary office is based in New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
With extensive experience in providing trajectory and growing innovative business plans for start-ups, their portfolio is worth over $7 billion. Investors like Aconex, Campaign Monitor, & Atlassian provide equity capital for all stages ranging from seed, series A and other developmental stages.
Its founders are passionate about making a global difference through equipping young companies with much needed financial resources to succeed. Blackbird Ventures’ recipe for success is through raising capital and investing in Australia’s most ambitious companies.
The venture has backed over 200 companies in Australia and New Zealand since its inception a decade ago.
The Australian company has 205 investments to its name, with 69 of them as lead investments. Their most recent investment as of writing was Sundrive Solar, which was made on the 12th of October 2022. The deal was worth A$21 million.
The firm has seven diversity investments and 10 exits.
In February 2019, Blackbird made a single investment of $1 million in See-Mode technologies. The company’s exit includes the likes of Shape Analytics, Redbubble and LIFX.
The capital venture has raised an estimated $791.7 million across seven funds. Blackbird Fund III, announced in 2018, was able to raise a sum of A$216 million and Blackbird Fund IV in 2022 raised A$500 Million.
Blackbird’s annual income is $2 million annually. The firm’s investment size can range from $0.25 million and could go up to the tune of $5 million depending on the nature of the company.
Blackbird Ventures is the parent company of Startmate. Twice a year, the Startmate Accelerator unleashes the ambition of Australia and New Zealand’s best founders, and propels them toward their goals.
SunDrive is an Australian-based solar technology start-up firm known for creating solutions to reduce the cost of high efficiency solar cells. With adequate funding, the company has gone from small projects to manufacturers of some of the most functional and efficient solar cells in the world.
Founded in 2021 by Microsoft and GitHub alumni Luke Kim and Phillip LeBlanc, Spice AI is a start-up company that deals with artificial intelligence and machine learning. The company is based in Seattle, United States. The company creates an easy-to-use AI technology to harness time series data for developers.
It is the leading employee analytics platform in Melbourne, Australia that specialises in staff analytics and surveying. Culture Amp assists more than 5,000 companies across the world to improve employee’s engagement, performance and retention.
Originally created in 2014, Zoox is a robotics firm that deals with the production of self-control vehicle fleets using the technology of machinery and robotics. The firm is a subsidiary of Amazon creating autonomous vehicles.
Fleet Space Technologies
Fleet Space Technologies focuses on areas such as communication, satellite and satellite IoT. The company based in Adelaide, is known for the production of satellites for low-bandwidth connectivity for data exchange, IoT sensor networks and machine-to-machine communication.
PsiQuantum is into computing, technology and photonics. It is a company that creates a resource-driven silicon photonic quantum computer. PsiQuantum’s resources take care of daily challenges encountered with healthcare, climate, high tech, government, communication, and energy. The firm is created to use its quantum technology for error correction and solve impossible problems.
Bugcrowd is a firm that offers a platform for web mobile, security testing, client-side applications and source code through computing and computer security crowd-sourcing. The platform allows orchestration of data, human intelligence, remediation workflows and technology.
Gilmour Space Technologies
Gilmour Space Technologies is Australia’s leading rocket company created in 2013 by two brothers. It develops new capabilities for launching space rockets and hybrid launch vehicles to space.
Sunfed® in New Zealand, this is a firm that makes plant-based meat substitutes from pea proteins. The chicken Free Chicken was the company’s first pea protein-based product to be made available in the market.
The company is based in San Mateo, California, United States. Earth Air is a vertically integrated metal ore deposit exploration company that was created in 2016 by Roman Teslyuk. The Earth AI uses these mineral deposits to create a renewable energy infrastructure and also solve the metals supply shortage crisis.
Funding Rounds Blackbird took part in:
- Bugcrowd funding round (March 2016) – $15m
- Zoox Series A round (October 2016) – $250m
- Gilmour Space Technologies Series B round (September, 2018) – $13.2m
- Culture Amp funding round (September 2019) – $82 million
- Harrison-AI Pty Ltd Series A round (December, 2019) – $29m
- Process Street funding round (February 2020) – $12.2m
- Safety Culture (April 2020) – $35.5m
- Strong Compute Seed Round (May, 2022) – $7.8m
- Spice.ai Seed round (September 2022) – $13.5m
- Morse Micro Series B round (September, 2022) – $140m
Funds (7) – Estimated total of $791.7m
- Blackbird Ventures (Australia) Fund IV, 2020 – A$500 million raised
- Blackbird Ventures (New Zealand) Fund 1, 2019 – NZ$30 million raised
- Blackbird Ventures (Australia) Fund III, 2018 – A$261 million raised
- Blackbird Ventures LP, 2015 – A$200 million raised
- Blackbird Ventures (Australia) Fund I, 2014 – $25 million raised
- Blackbird ventures, 2013 – A$20 million raised
- Blackbird Ventures LP, 2012 – A$30 million raised
Principal officers at Blackbird Ventures
- Bill Bartee, Co-Founder, Managing Director
- Rick Baker, General Partner
- 🐘 Nick Crocker, General Partner
- Michael Batko, Head of Operations, Startmate
- Niki Scevak, General PartnerShweta Pillai, Limited Partner
- Joel Connolly, Creative Director
- Samantha Wong, General Partner
- Mike Cannon-Brookes, Board Member
- Scott Farquhar, Board Member
The ongoing funding round at Blackbird will be for its fifth fund, after its fourth closed in October 2020 and pulled in $500 million from large institutional investors including Hostplus, the Future Fund, First State Super, HESTA, AustralianSuper and TelstraSuper. Mr Scevak said it was talking to all of its existing investors for the new fund, as well as some new targets both at home and overseas.
Niki Scevak said, despite Canva’s returns taking the headlines, its funds would be performing in the top quartile by global standards even with its star performer removed. He revealed that 20 per cent of the companies it has invested in are now valued at more than $100 million, and that it has calculated that the net internal rate of return (IRR) for every dollar invested across its funds so far is 81 per cent.
It’s exciting to see such great results not only in terms of dollars raised and invested into Australian companies but also the rate of return Aussie companies are achieving in response. The level of support and contribution Blackbird Ventures is putting into pre-revenue startups I’m sure would have a lot to do with this, and would be extremely valuable to new company founders.
Now is a great time to be in tech especially as the world recovers after the height of the pandemic and now launches into a new generation of business potential with enthusiasm.