Finding the next deal

For Its Sixth Venture Check, The $100M Naspers Foundry Hit Ctrl+F

By  |  July 30, 2021

Foundries; more or less no-nonsense lairs for metalworks, where it’s mostly about liquified metal, beating metallics into shape, and cooling solid masterpieces into final casts.

Foundries comprise one of the manufacturing industry’s largest stakeholders, melting and recasting multimillion scrap tons annually to create new, durable goods. These hot work factories are said to not only be the birthplace of all things metal, but also the one place where “the hardest and most solid decisions” are made. 

Basically, a foundry is no place for misinformed choices and needless assumptions, neither is it the ideal setting for witty coffee jokes over serious business. Well, all those attributes come across as the harbinger of the running idea behind one of the largest investment vehicles in Africa.

Naspers Foundry, the corporate VC arm of South Africa’s Naspers—Africa’s most valuable privately-held firm—was set up in 2019 to “patiently and strategically” invest in some of the country’s tech startups. 

However, unlike foundries, Naspers’ investment vehicle isn't the 9-5 type of VC. While patternmakers, hand molders, and hand core makers devote themselves to everyday metalwork, this VC isn’t so keen on favoring the machine gun approach.

With ZAR 1.4 Bn in dry powder (approximately USD 100 Mn), Naspers Foundry’s mission is to help talented, ambitious South African techpreneurs grow businesses that improve people’s daily lives. It appears a simple modus operandi, but this particular ‘foundry’ likes to cast cheques SoftBank-style; sure bets only.  

Naspers, whose international investment success ironically trumps its local efforts, doesn’t fancy its Foundry as the everyday VC on the lookout for everyday funding opportunities.

Thanks to this culture, the larger chunk of its USD 100 Mn stash remains untouched, even as it welcomes the sixth addition to its portfolio. Last week, Naspers Foundry—who also likes leading and co-leading rounds to assert long-term confidence—single-handedly cut another startup a Series B check of USD 2.3 Mn.

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