Taiwan’s Blockchain Ecosystem Map 21H1: a Pivotal Moment towards Mass Adoption

Original file for download: Taiwan’s Blockchain Ecosystem Map First Half 2021

Jack An, Analyst (安良方 / 分析師)

Jack is an Analyst covering AppWorks Accelerator. Before joining the team, he was a co-founder and early team member at two InsurTech startups, where he developed a passion in user experience and product development. Previous to his startup journey he worked as a commercial property underwriter at Chubb Insurance in New Zealand. Jack graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Waikato University where he studied classical piano. He loves to cook, read and is a practicing stoic.

During the first half of 2021, public interest in blockchain reached an all-time high. Towards the end of last year, we saw an upswing in the number of organizations and enterprises buying and holding cryptocurrencies, causing the price of Bitcoin to cross US$60,000 for the very first time in March. Talk of crypto quickly made its way into dinner table conversations, and it seemed as if everybody on the block was eager to dive into the world of blockchain.

For those that have been in crypto for a while, this bull run finally let them exit many of their alt-coin investments from the 2017 ICO wave, as the wider market price sentiment rallied alongside the mainstream coins to reach an all time high. The other worthwhile trend over the past six months has been the mainstream adoption of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), a technology that provides true ownership capabilities and authenticity over digital assets. We saw hoards of multinational brands, intellectual property owners, celebrities, and individual creators quickly embrace this new technology and flock to various platforms to either buy NFTs or mint some of their own. 

It’s certainly been an exciting ride since AppWorks Accelerator started publishing Taiwan’s Blockchain Ecosystem Map two years ago. In line with previous editions, we’ve observed several notable trends that have defined the blockchain industry this past half year. 

1. Branded drops accelerated end-user adoption of NFTs

The NFT standard was formulated in 2017, so why did it only catch on this past year? It really came down to two key driving forces. First, mainstream brands and IPs started employing NFTs as a vehicle to interact with their fans, such as the NBA through NBA Topshot, Taco Bell, and even the band Kings of Leon. By creating a virtual experience through NFTs, brands were able to engage and create a unique bond with their loyal fans despite physical restrictions under COVID-19, allowing them to also generate alternative revenue streams from the sales of NFTs.

Second, NFTs are becoming an alternative asset class for yield-driven crypto holders and investors. During the ICO era in 2017, most developers and investors were either busy issuing coins or trying to find the next cryptocurrency with hundred-fold growth potential; it wasn’t long until this model became monotonous and out of fashion. Fast forward to 2021, decentralized finance (DeFi) hit a US$100B market cap and drove crypto prices to all-time highs. As NFTs started emerging, crypto holders were naturally drawn to their consumer appeal and accretive potential, propelling NFTs into the limelight for mass adoption. Much of this adoption is supported by advancements in the underlying infrastructure, including a growing ecosystem of protocols, marketplaces, games, developers, creators, and of course, buyers. 

Evidently, a lot of moving parts have come together in the last few years to catapult NFTs into stardom. In Taiwan, the NFT landscape has also evolved significantly compared to the second half of 2020. For example, Lootex, an alumnus of AW#20, and Oursong, a subsidiary of KKBox, both established NFT products long before the recent bull run. All the effort they put in during previous cycles are now bearing fruit, with both companies receiving an influx of new partnerships and commercial opportunities. During this time, we also saw a proliferation of new NFT players, such as JCard and Fansi, effectively creating a diverse selection of platforms for creators to choose from.

With Beeple’s First 5000 Days selling for US$69 million, celebrity engagement, and primetime media including even SNL releasing NFT coverage, all the major signs of a bubble were there. And surely enough, monthly transaction volume experienced a significant decline of 90% shortly after its record high in May. Nevertheless, as witnessed with previous blockchain hype cycles, where there is money, there will be talent, and where there is talent, there will be development. Ultimately, NFTs are still in the early innings, and while collectibles have served as the primary use case so far, this new technology will eventually extend across any product, service, or application that needs to use a digital ID. 

2. Taiwan’s regulation catching up to the world 

Up to recently in Taiwan, the laws and regulations related to cryptocurrency have been very vague. And for those trying to stay compliant, they could only follow the existing but outdated mandate, or hope for the best by following foreign regulations. This was changed in April this year, as the Executive Yuan aligned their stance with the rest of the world by implementing strict AML/KYC requirements when dealing with cryptocurrencies. 

Existing players like MaiCoin—the primary fiat-to-crypto exchange in Taiwan—faced minimal impact as stern KYC controls were already in place. However, teams working on DeFi, lending, and investing may face greater obstacles, as it is challenging to design a user experience in a decentralized manner that complies with regulations while still adhering to the spirit of decentralization—a faux pas that many blockchain founders and evangelists are becoming increasingly critical of. Going forward, we expect decision makers to implement more comprehensive and tailored regulations for DeFi to prevent bad actors from gaming the system and taking advantage of everyday consumers; this will ultimately encourage more users and wider adoption, benefitting the ecosystem as a whole. 

3. Influx of funding and talent set to accelerate development

With the price of bitcoin hitting an all-time high in H1 2021, investors around the world are taking note of the industry’s activities. For example, in May this year, DApp Pocket (AW#19) announced that they had been acquired by Turn Capital, a family office run by 17LIVE co-founder Joseph Phua. It also merged its two products, DApp Pocket & Cappuu, into Coinomo, with the aim of bringing crypto to mainstream users in Southeast Asia. 

At the same time, another blockchain wallet developer in Taiwan Portto (AW#19, AppWorks is an investor), whose product Blocto serves as one of the earliest wallets supporting Flow and the largest delegated node by user count to stake Flow tokens, recently announced the completion of a US$8.8 million fundraising round. Primary investors include top blockchain VCs from Silicon Valley and Taiwan, as well as participation from a notable crypto exchange, public chain foundations, NBA players, and well-known American entrepreneurs, among others. 

Despite a significant price correction in cryptocurrencies since May, the momentum that has been brewing over the past six months will likely pay off in the second half of the year, whether through DeFi, NFT, or blockchain applications at both the consumer and enterprise level. We’ve also started to observe more international companies such as Animoca Brands (AppWorks is an investor) enter Taiwan to recruit top-tier blockchain talent, which is expected to further accelerate the development of the country’s blockchain ecosystem. 

Taiwan’s Blockchain Ecosystem Map First Half 2021 is created by AppWorks, Co-produced by Blockchain Media – Blockcast (AW#14), BlockTempo (AW#16), Zombit (AW#21). This map is updated every six months, if you have any comments or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact us at a@appworks.tw.

【If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with AI, Blockchain, and NFT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.】

Taiwan’s AI Ecosystem Map 21H1: Deepening Synergies between Startups and Corporates

Original file for download: Taiwan’s AI Ecosystem Map First Half 2021

Natalie Lin, Analyst (林楓 / 分析師)

Natalie is an Analyst covering AppWorks Accelerator and Greater Southeast Asia. Before joining the team, she worked in the search engine marketing and email marketing teams at Zappos, America’s leading shoes and fashion online retailer, where she primarily focused on KPI management, campaign optimization, and project management. Born in Canada and raised in the Middle East, Natalie returned to Taiwan for high school before moving to the US for college and work. She received her Bachelors of Marketing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Outside of work she likes to read, travel, and play video games.

The world has been living with the pandemic for over a year now. Although vaccinations are already underway worldwide, many dramatic changes that businesses have adopted during Covid-19 are irreversible. Both startups and corporates have increasingly turned to AI, cloud, and digital transformation to streamline operations and survive under the new normal, permanently altering the way we do business.

During the first half of 2021, the Taiwanese AI ecosystem reached a significant milestone with Appier’s public listing in Japan, becoming the first Taiwanese startup to officially achieve unicorn status. Additionally, AI chip startup Kneron received funding and resources from major electronics manufacturers Hon Hai and Winbond at the beginning of the year, signaling a continuing demand for increasingly higher-efficiency computing capabilities from major technology companies. 

AppWorks Accelerator has updated Taiwan’s AI Ecosystem Map First Half 2021 with our learnings over the past six months. With the breakneck pace of digital adoption, some applications are no longer limited to a specific industry and have thus been reclassified as cross-industry solutions or technologies, which we believe is more reflective of the AI ecosystem in Taiwan. In reviewing the changes in the overall ecosystem, we have observed several notable trends for the first half of 2021:

New perspectives and opportunities in AI

According to Hive Ventures’ AI report for Taiwanese enterprises released in the first quarter of 2021, 25% of companies have deployed relatively mature AI applications in their organizations. In addition, 53% of interviewed companies believed that there was a need to introduce AI to their organizations, with learning how to deploy and apply AI more effectively becoming a top priority for many leaders. We noticed that companies have gone from directly seeking external solutions to building an internal team to sort integrated data, define application fields, develop and deploy AI models, and finally realize the assimilation of AI in their organizations.

It is precisely because of this trend that we see a number of AI enablers gaining significant momentum in the market.  ProfetAI, an automated machine learning engine aimed at assisting companies to introduce AI with the best efficiency, received pre-A funding from AU Optronics, Hive Ventures, and other investors in early 2021. In addition, Infuse AI received a US$ 4.3M Series A round of fundraising led by Wistron in the first quarter of 2021 to continue to develop their MLOps (Machine Learning Operations) platform. Model development, management, and monitoring are optimized this year to assist more companies in deploying and managing AI models.

The next step in MarTech

As the penetration rate of e-commerce in Taiwan continues to rise, the concept of online-merge-offline (OMO) fusing virtual and physical sales and marketing is demonstrating powerful potential. The effect of Google’s announcement of phasing out third-party cookies continues to ferment, forcing companies to reassess how they manage their scattered online and offline data pockets. Specifically, companies are now left to contend with the challenge of effectively accumulating, integrating, and drawing insights from fragmented customer data, and using that to make agile marketing decisions.  Such issues have created new development opportunities for AI innovation within MarTech.

In the face of making increasingly complex marketing decisions, the data required is more difficult than ever to integrate by yourself. We noticed MarTech startups have begun to actively seek alliance opportunities with other companies, jointly form teams to share data, improve product content together, or even derive new service models. Whether it’s teaming up between new ventures or seeking cooperation in different industries, you can find clues of these synergies happening throughout the first half of 2021. For example, two conversational AI startups, GoSky and Crescendo Labs, cooperated with iKALA’s KOL Radar to collect the data they needed to launch social commerce solutions.

Another MarTech startup, Accuhit, collaborated with key media players in early 2021 to establish a joint venture in AI and big data called DaEX. Through cross-industry alliances, the media’s advertising data will be integrated with CDP (Customer Data Platform) to create a comprehensive marketing ecosystem. In addition to its aforementioned fundraising news, Appier also acquired BotBonnie, an omnichannel social commerce platform to enrich their services and data analysis. With this wave of MarTech teams building strong networks, more AI applications will be born through such synergies.

Roles for large companies in the AI ecosystem

In the development of the overall AI ecosystem, whether in Taiwan or internationally, the participation rate of integrating AI in organizations and processes is increasing. In terms of startup accelerators, AppWorks Accelerator, established in 2010 and focusing on founders working in AI and Blockchain since August 2018 (AW#17), has graduated over 100 AI teams so far and continues to build up Taiwan’s AI ecosystem. In April 2021, AppWorks also announced a partnership with Wistron, an active player in the AI ecosystem, to launch the first batch of the new Wistron Accelerator powered by AppWorks to focus on startups in the fields of AI, IoT, cloud computing, and information security. Various business units of Wistron Group will collaborate with these startups to propose solutions for their departments and seek more growth opportunities within the overall AI/IoT ecosystem.

Leading AI chip maker NVIDIA also announced that it will establish Asia’s first NVIDIA Inception AI startup base in Linkou’s innovation park, supplemented by the NVIDIA Inception AI accelerator program to inject talent and innovative technology into Taiwan. In addition, startup accelerators that support AI startup teams, including SparkLabs Taipei, Taiwan AI x Robotics Accelerator, and the CIAT Accelerator, are all recruiting AI startups to join them.

Taiwan AI Academy Foundation and Taiwan AI Labs are Taiwan’s representative institutions in AI education and research, respectively. The former, a consortium, combines industry and academia to promote the implementation of AI in various industries. It promotes services for AI project evaluation and transformation strategies. Taiwan’s smart driving test lab and Taoyuan’s innovation park connect government and corporate resources to provide an R&D environment for self-driving cars to test. With organizations now banding together to push the AI agenda forward, we will continue to see the demand for integrating AI rise.

Taiwan’s AI Ecosystem Map First Half 2021 is jointly produced by AppWorks and Taiwan’s Artificial Intelligence Foundation (AIF), and is updated every six months. If you have any questions or suggestions, you may reach out to AppWorks at a@appworks.tw.

【If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with AI, Blockchain, and NFT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.】

XREX Raises $17M to Expand Fiat Currency Portfolio and Partnerships

Editor’s note: We are thrilled to back XREX’s $17M series Pre-A round. XREX is AppWorks Accelerator #17 alumni, and a crypto-fiat FinTech startup driving financial inclusion via blockchain. Looking forward the cooperation with XREX’s outstanding team to build a decentralized future. The press release from XREX as below:

XREX, a crypto-fiat FinTech company driving financial inclusion via blockchain, closed its $17 million Pre-A round, which was oversubscribed by 200%. XREX will use the funding to expand its fiat currency portfolio, acquire additional licenses, and forge partnerships with more financial institutions and digital wallets.

Led by CDIB Capital Group (TWSE: 2883), the consortium of global investors includes publicly-listed companies, major banks, venture capital firms, and top fintech investors from the US, Canada, Germany, Estonia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The strong participation by publicly-listed companies underscores XREX’s commitment to compliance with regulatory bodies.

Other investors in this Pre-A round also include SBI Investment (subsidiary of SBI Holdings, TYO: 8473), Global Founders Capital, ThreeD Capital (CSE: IDK), E.Sun Venture Capital (TWSE: 2884), Systex Corporation (TWSE: 6214), Metaplanet Holdings, AppWorks, Black Marble, New Economy Ventures, and Seraph Group. XREX closed its $7 million seed round in 2019. The investors in that round included AppWorks (lead), Skype’s late-cofounder Toivo Annus, Metaplanet Holdings, Black Marble, CDIB, WI Harper, BitoEx, and the Taiwan government’s National Development Fund.

“CDIB was an early investor in XREX,” said Ryan Kuo, Head of CDIB Capital Innovation Fund. “After witnessing the company’s fast revenue growth and their commitment to compliance, we were determined to double our investment and lead this strategic round.”

“Our mission is to foster global financial inclusion by leveraging blockchain,” said XREX CEO and cofounder Wayne Huang, an internationally-recognized cybersecurity expert. “Many of our team members are from or have lived in the markets where we serve. We keenly understand the struggles faced by many cross-border merchants who lack safe access to US dollar liquidity.”

By working with local regulators and financial institutions, XREX has pioneered tools such as BitCheck and MyXchange to help merchants and SMEs in emerging markets reduce forex loss, gain access to US dollars and seamlessly cross over from informal to formal economy. 

Capitalizing on a successful series of new features including their mandatory User Public Profile as well as their Risk Level Detector features, XREX will roll out a user Reputation Index next year to bolster safety, transparency and accountability while encouraging social networking.

In the last eight months, XREX successfully detected and prevented fraud rings from Russia and Nigeria from using the platform, attesting to XREX as one of the safest crypto-fiat currency platforms in the world.

“Helping entrepreneurs to succeed is a priority for us,” said Yoshitaka Kitao, Representative Director & Chairman of SBI Investment. “We believe XREX solutions open the door for underserved merchants to participate in global commerce on an even playing field.”

Jerry Horng, President of Black Marble Capital Management who serves on XREX’s board, said, “We were an early investor of XREX and we’re excited to continue our support in this round. XREX is uniquely positioned to connect Taiwan’s mature banking industry with the booming cross-border commerce currently seen in emerging markets.”

Recognizing compliance is core to digital currency adoption, XREX partners with several leading compliance and anti-money laundering providers such as CipherTrace, Sum&Substance, and TRISA.

“XREX has shown above-expectation growth since their graduation from our AW#17 accelerator batch in 2018. We are thrilled to back them again,” said Joseph Chan, a Partner at AppWorks who serves on XREX’s board. “This round will accelerate XREX’s capability of combining their unmatched cybersecurity expertise with leading compliance technologies to create a safer and cleaner ecosystem for crypto-enabled merchants, digital asset owners, and entrepreneurs.”

About XREX:

Founded in Aug 2018 and headquartered in Taipei, XREX Inc. is a crypto-fiat FinTech company with a mission of driving financial inclusion by solving the dollar liquidity shortage issue in emerging economies. Armed with a team of world-leading experts in compliance, cryptocurrency, blockchain, FinTech and cross-border payments, XREX offers innovative solutions to help cross-border SMEs compete on an even playing field. Follow XREX on Twitter, Facebook, Medium, and LinkedIn.

【If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with AI, Blockchain, and NFT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.】

AppWorks Successfully Closes US$150 Million Fund III with Outlook to Ramp Up Regional and Global Investment Activity

AppWorks, a leading Greater Southeast Asian venture capital firm and accelerator, today announced the oversubscribed final close of AppWorks Fund III, successfully raising US$150 million. The new fund brings AppWorks’ total assets under management (AUM) to US$212 million, placing it among the largest early-stage venture capital firms in the Greater Southeast Asia region (Southeast Asia+Taiwan). 

At US$150 million, AppWorks Fund III is 3x larger than its second fund of US$50 million (Vintage 2014) and 15x larger than its first fund of US$11 million (Vintage 2012). Fund III counts several existing and new LPs, including Taiwan Mobile, Axiom Asia Private Capital, Fubon Life, TransGlobe Life, Hongtai Group, Wistron, Cathay Life, Phison Electronics, and Taiwan’s National Development Fund, among others. 

With an initial target of US$100 million, AppWorks Fund III generated outsized investor interest mainly driven by a better than expected inflow of investment opportunities from AppWorks’ three core themes of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and Southeast Asia (ABS), particularly via AppWorks Accelerator and the firm’s mentor network. Capitalizing on the growth momentum of these themes and AppWorks’ positioning as a leading early-stage venture capital firm in the region, the firm was able to achieve a final close at the US$150 million hard cap. With the industry-leading performance of Fund II, the majority of AppWorks’ LPs returned and upped their investments, resulting in Fund III being oversubscribed by 1.6x at final closing. 

As part of AppWorks Fund III final close, the firm will recruit new investment associates and analysts to scale up investment activity with a focus on Southeast Asia, sourcing and executing on promising deals throughout the region. With over a decade of fund activity, AppWorks has built an open culture where talent at all levels can thrive, giving the opportunity for every team member to let their voice be heard and enjoy the fruits of success.

A Regional Fund Capable of Leading Seed to Series C

At US$150 million, AppWorks Fund III is 7.5x larger than the average VC fund size of US$20 million (NT$600 million) in Taiwan. AppWorks is also one of the few firms born out of Taiwan with a truly regional presence. With this close, AppWorks Fund III is in the process of constructing a portfolio of roughly 40 deals, including 20 investments starting at US$2 million in Series A-C companies and 20 seed-stage investments. AppWorks will also reserve capital to support its portfolio companies as they reach maturation.

In terms of AUM, AppWorks has reached US$212 million, becoming one of the largest early-stage VC firms in the Greater Southeast Asia region. On the regional stage, AppWorks invests in deals ranging from Seed to Series C stages, writing lead tickets in high-growth startups demonstrating breakout potential. In the world of blockchain, AppWorks has also stepped onto the global stage, co-investing in highly sought-after deals such as Dapper Labs/Flow, Animoca Brands and Splinterlands alongside prominent crypto investors. 

Currently, AppWorks Fund III has backed more than 20 startups, including AppWorks Accelerator alumni Pickone (AW#9), WeMo Scooter (AW#12), Omnichat (AW#16), XREX (AW#17), Blocto (AW#19), SoopahGenius (AW#20), Docosan (AW#21). The fund also invested in companies led by a handful of AppWorks Mentors, including Carousell, Dapper Labs/Flow, Tiki, Dcard, Yummy Corp, and Animoca Brands. Among them, Dapper Labs and Animoca Brands have both crossed the unicorn threshold, having demonstrated significant traction in the burgeoning non-fungible token (NFT) space. 

“AppWorks was established in 2009, launched AppWorks Accelerator—the region’s leading startup accelerator—in 2010, and started our journey of raising and managing venture capital funds in 2011. Twelve years after our inception, we managed to successfully raise our third fund of US$150 million, a huge milestone for the firm,” said Jamie Lin, Chairman and Partner at AppWorks. “From a humble beginning, AppWorks is now one of the region’s leading investors, working together with other prominent venture capital firms to cultivate the startup ecosystem in fast-emerging Southeast Asia. On the AI and blockchain front, we have become a major player on the global stage.”

For the firm’s portfolio companies, AppWorks unlocks the Taiwan market’s distinct advantages in talent and manufacturing capabilities. AppWorks offers founders access to Taiwan’s large pool of talent in engineering, manufacturing, and other vertical expertise, creating a direct pipeline to talent via the AppWorks School. In addition, through AppWorks’ network of strategic partners, the firm provides founders with direct access to Taiwan’s world-leading hardware manufacturing resources, giving startups a manufacturing edge in critical areas that will define the future.

For the Southeast Asia market, AppWorks has implemented a local seed fund strategy, investing in different seed funds across the market to secure proprietary deal flow. These funds provide meaningful exposure to the region, giving AppWorks insights and access into potential breakout deals. In addition, during the pandemic, this strategy has allowed AppWorks to continue to deploy capital into promising deals throughout the region despite regional travel restrictions.

AppWorks Fund II Exhibits Top Quartile Investment Performance

Launched in 2014, AppWorks Fund II has entered its harvest phase and is currently performing among the top quartile of global venture capital and private equity funds within the same vintage, generating substantial financial returns for investors and carried interest for AppWorks team members. Fund II’s investment portfolio includes Lalamove, which recently became a decacorn, and Taipei Exchange-listed 91APP, Taiwan’s first locally grown unicorn with a market cap exceeding US$1.4 billion (NT$40 billion)—with the 91APP deal alone poised to return the fund two times over. 

As of the end of July 2021, AppWorks Fund II’s TVPI reached 3.3x, with DPI at 1.3x and IRR reaching 34.7%. By comparison, the top quartile of global VC and PE funds with the same vintage have a TVPI of 2.4x, DPI of 0.7x, and IRR of 26.1%. With this fund performance, nearly all shareholders in AppWorks Fund II upped their subscription to Fund III, resulting in the significant oversubscription.

After more than a decade of development, the AppWorks flywheel is now in full swing. The overall ecosystem now encompasses 414 active startups and 1,396 founders, collectively raising US$4.3 billion and boasting an aggregate valuation of US$17.4 billion. Together, the community generates US$12.9 billion in annual turnover and created 18,591 jobs in the process. Looking towards the next ten years, AppWorks has set a goal of creating an ecosystem encompassing 1,000 active startups with a collective value exceeding US$100 billion and generating 50,000 employment opportunities.

【We welcome all AI, Blockchain, NFT, or Southeast Asia founders to join AppWorks Accelerator

AppWorks Fund III 完成 1.5 億美元最終募集,擴大人才招募

大東南亞創業加速器龍頭,同時也是本區指標性創投的 AppWorks,在今日 (12 日) 宣布,旗下第三支創投基金 AppWorks Fund III 完成最終募集 (Final Closing),由於獲得投資人超額認購,使得整體資金規模為 1.5 億美元 (45 億新台幣) ,這讓 AppWorks 管理的總資產規模成長至 2.12 億美元,躍升大東南亞較具規模的專業創投機構之一,並擴大展開人才招募。 

AppWorks Fund III 是 AppWorks 自 2012 年 Fund I 以來,完成募集的第三號基金,主要投資人包括:台灣大哥大、Axiom Asia Private Capital、富邦人壽、全球人壽、宏泰集團、緯創資通、國泰人壽、群聯電子以及國發基金。相較於前次募集、規模 5,000 萬美元的 AppWorks Fund II 基金,AppWorks Fund III 規模為三倍。

AppWorks Fund III 最初設定規模為 1 億美元,但因聚焦的 ABS (AI、Blockchain、Southeast Asia) 三大領域成長速度高過預期,且 AppWorks Accelerator 校友、Mentors 等獨有案源管道持續發酵,使得優質投資機會流入速度持續加快。為幫助股東充分把握 ABS 三大引擎未來 5-7 年的成長動能,且進一步提升 AppWorks 在區域的規模優勢、強化從種子輪到 C 輪能全方位領投的地位,AppWorks 最終決定募滿股東合約允許的募資上限 (Hard Cap),總金額達 1.5 億美元。且由於 AppWorks Fund II 投資績效傑出,此次 AppWorks Fund III 最終募集獲得投資人超額認購達 1.6 倍。

AppWorks Fund II 投資績效優異

2014 年啟動、目前進入收成期的 AppWorks Fund II,投資績效持續領先同期全球排名前 1/4 的創投與私募基金,為投資人創造優異的財務報酬,同時也為 AppWorks 帶來豐厚的績效獎金收益。在 AppWorks Fund II 的投資組合中,包括已晉升為十角獸 (估值超過 100 億美元) 的 Lalamove,以及今年順利在台股 IPO、總市值突破 400 億新台幣的第一隻全本土獨角獸 91APP 等。其中,僅 91APP 一檔持股的總市值,就已達到 AppWorks Fund II 規模的兩倍。

在優質投資組合陸續進入收成期帶動下,截至 2021 年 7 月底,AppWorks Fund II 總收益乘數 TVPI (Total Value to Paid-in-Capital) 達到 3.3倍,已分配收益乘數 DPI (Distribution to Paid-in Capital) 達到 1.3 倍,年化內部報酬率 IRR (Internal Rate of Return) 達 34.7%。相較之下,同期全球排名前 1/4 的創投與私募基金, TVPI 為 2.4 倍、DPI 為 0.7 倍、IRR 為 26.1%。績效表現如此優異之下,AppWorks Fund II 股東幾乎全數加碼投資 AppWorks Fund III,也因此造成超額認購。

區域級基金:可領投種子輪到 C 輪的全方位機構

台灣平均每檔創投基金 0.2 億美金 (6 億新台幣) 規模來看,1.5 億美元的 AppWorks Fund III 為均值 7.5 倍,可說是相當獨特的存在。事實上,AppWorks 是極少數從台灣出發,達到區域級規模、投資足跡遍佈大東南亞的創投機構。

以總管理資產規模 (AUM / Asset Under Management) 而言,AppWorks 達到 2.12 億美元,已躋身大東南亞資金規模較大的專業創投機構之一。在區域舞台上,AppWorks 與類似規模的同儕包括  Sequoia India (紅杉印度)、Vertex、B Capital、Golden Gate Ventures、East Ventures、Asia Partners 等,一起角逐優質案源,時而競爭、時而合作。在區塊鏈的世界,AppWorks 更已站上全球舞台,與 A16Z、Union Square Ventures 等一線加密貨幣創投,共同投資 Dapper Labs / Flow 等新創。

因此,AppWorks 決定將 Fund III 募集至 1.5 億美元規模,讓 AppWorks 的投資階段,能從約 20 萬美元的種子輪、300 萬美元的 A 輪,一路橫跨至 C 輪,必要時能出手領投達 1,500 萬美元規模,如此,大幅提升 AppWorks 支持優秀校友、Mentors,加速新創規模化,並且幫股東創造優質報酬的能力。

目前 AppWorks Fund III 已投資超過 20 家新創,包括 AppWorks Accelerator 校友 Pickone (AW#9)、WeMo Scooter (AW#12)、Omnichat (AW#16)、XREX (AW#17)、Blocto (AW#19)、SoopahGenius (AW#20)、Docosan (AW#21) 等,以及 CarousellTiki、Dapper Labs / Flow、DcardYummyAnimoca Brands 等 AppWorks Mentors 帶領的新創,其中,在 NFT 次領域上極具成長潛力的 Dapper Labs / Flow 與 Animoca Brands 已成功晉升為新創獨角獸。

AppWorks 董事長暨合夥人林之晨指出:「AppWorks 從 2009 年草創,2010 年啟動創業加速器,2011 年展開升級投資機構之旅,經歷 1,100 萬美元 的 Fund I、 5,000 萬美元的 Fund II,如今在第 12 個年頭完成 1.5 億美元 Fund III 的募集,可說是正式進入大聯盟,能與國際一線創投一起耕耘大東南亞新創生態,同時在全球舞台加速 AI、區塊鏈的發展。回想當年草創時,台灣軟體新創投資幾乎等同於沙漠,根本無法想像今日可以開出如此茂盛的花朵。當然,能力越多、責任越大,AppWorks 將本著初衷,持續努力不懈,幫助更多台灣新創走出去,同時讓更多東南亞、乃至於全球新創來台落地,加速台灣成為大東南亞的台灣、世界的台灣,才是我們存在的真正目的。」

國際級待遇:擴大招募投資經理、分析師、投資人關係經理

隨著晉升大聯盟,AppWorks 給予人才的待遇也拉齊國際一線機構水準,並即刻擴大人才招募。目前積極招募的職務,主要為投資經理 (Associate) 、分析師 (Analyst)、投資人關係經理 (Investor Relations Manager),各個職務皆按專業能力與工作表現敘薪。

其中,投資經理要求 5 年以上相關工作經驗或國際頂尖 MBA 畢業,年收入 9.2 萬至 18 萬美元 (258 – 504 萬新台幣) 、分析師需要 3 年以上相關經驗,年收入在 5.2 萬至 10.3 萬美元 (146 – 288 萬新台幣)、而投資人關係經理則需要 2 年以上相關經驗,年收入在 3 萬至 5 萬美元 (84 – 140 萬新台幣)。此外,還有包括:第一天開始年假無上限、年度健康檢查、年度員工旅遊、0 到 6 歲每位每月 3 萬新台幣育兒補助等福利。

創投績效產生沒有捷徑,只能仰賴長期、持續的投入新創團隊輔導,同時隨時掌握最前緣的科技、產業動態,對 AppWorks 來說,「人才是根本」不是口號,而是 DNA。在各個環節,皆展現對人才的重視。除了提供有區域競爭力的待遇與福利,AppWorks 也打造出資訊公開、制度透明、比想法不比位階的工作環境。例如,從每一支進駐 AppWorks Accelerator 的新創團隊、每一個投資案,到 AppWorks 內部的政策與制度,每一步策略與行動,皆採取共識決議,每位成員不受限職稱皆有提供建議、表達不同意見的平等權利,藉由最充分的溝通與交流,讓擁有不同專業與工作內容的每一個人,都能因為共同參與、且完全理解團隊的所有決議,一起準確對齊目標,方能加速前進。

林之晨指出:「創投永遠在面對新領域、評估新創業者,在這些大哉問面前,你過去有的經驗,有時會幫助你,但更多時候只會害你。我清楚記得,兩年前,我與當時 26 歲、我們的投資經理曾意晴,對於是否投資 Dapper Labs / Flow,有過長達數週的激烈辯論,辯到兩個人都生氣了。但最終,她說服了我與全公司,而結果證明這是一個數百倍收益的投資。所以,在 AppWorks,沒有人是老闆,好想法、好邏輯、好的產業洞察,就是我們的老闆。」

他進一步說:「創投是一個國家要與時俱進、增進新陳代謝,最重要的渦輪加速器。好創投可以賦能創業者、加速新興產業建立、創造經濟成長,同時提供大量優質且具向上流動性的就業機會給新生代工作者。創造這麼多公益的同時,好創投又能為基金股東產生優異投資收益,同時給予同仁豐厚的報酬。一個社會要持續轉型升級,幾乎很難找到比創投更多贏,更有策略槓桿的工具。因此,我們積極把 AppWorks 經營為一個國際級、具指標性的創投,希望吸引更多優秀人才加入,未來開枝散葉成更多創投機構,台灣就能擁有生生不息的原力。」

歷經十年發展後,AppWorks 的飛輪已呈現高速運轉,整體生態系累積 414 家活躍新創、1,396 位創業者,全體新創募資金額 43 億美元、價值 174 億美元、年營收 129 億美元、創造高達 18,591 個就業機會。展望下個十年,AppWorks 設定生態系活躍新創達到 1,000 家、整體價值 1,000 億美元、創造 5 萬個就業機會的目標。

【歡迎所有 AI、Blockchain、NFT 與目標東南亞市場的創業者,加入專為你們服務的 AppWorks Accelerator