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An Asian sovereign wealth fund has emerged as a leading technology investor, guided by our recommendations for both big-picture portfolio strategy and the meticulous organizational changes required for such a shift.
As a state-owned investor, SWFCo sought to achieve a delicate balance between its financial and strategic objectives. While its leaders naturally sought strong, risk-adjusted returns, they also wanted the fund’s investments to extend demonstrable benefits to the home country’s tech industry.
Using our extensive experience with institutional investors, we benchmarked SWFCo’s portfolio, goals, and internal capabilities against those of its peers. We compared how other sovereign wealth funds were investing in tech, both in terms of subsectors (fintech, healthcare, etc.) and life stage (through seed investments, venture capital, or growth funds).
Our analysis led us to recommend a 10% increase in SWFCo’s aggregate portfolio exposure to tech investments over four years. This included specific allocations by geography, deals per year, and investment type (a mix of direct, indirect, and venture capital). After an extensive sector scan, we advised SWFCo to focus especially on five core sectors: big data, e-commerce, cloud, enterprise software, and the Internet of Things. And we designed an annual process to review and refresh these core subsectors, with due consideration of the industry’s rapid shifts.
In addition to “where to play,” we worked together with SWFCo on “how to win” through structural changes to its organization. We advised an operating model redesign complete with dedicated teams, rigorous deal screening processes, an expert advisory panel, clearly defined decision rights, and new norms for managing and monitoring investments. We recommended a series of governance changes that would help SWFCo move at the higher speeds that the tech industry demands of investors.
Since implementing these changes, the fund has seen its tech investments grow quickly and sustainably. Its leaders have been able to regularly refresh their strategy, finding smart deals in new areas. They invest in companies as they enter growth stages and manage risk dynamically. They’ve built up teams in key global tech hubs and adapt quickly to changing markets. And they can proudly tell their stakeholders that they’ve played a part in fueling the entrepreneurial spirit and value creation of the region’s multiplying technology players.