James Packer's VC Company Is Preparing For Years Of Investments Of Up To $100m Worldwide

James Packer. Photo: Bloomberg / File

James Packer-backed venture capital firm Square Peg plans to invest up to $100 million a year on new investments including overseas opportunities, with a firm strategy to invest in larger and more established companies.

Square Peg, backed by James Packer, Seek co-founder Paul Bassat and the billionaire Liberman family is expanding its global footprint in an attempt to capture opportunities in technological ecosystems that exist outside of Australia.

In an interview with The Australian Paul Bassat revealed that the company has the “capability to invest in the range of $50m-$100 million on an annual basis across all geographies.”

After 2½ years and $50 million worth of investments in a variety of startup businesses, Square Peg’s evolution will see them target bigger, more established businesses across the global marketplace.

“In the past 12 months, we have increasingly done bigger investments and less of them. Typically for us now an investment size would be $3m-4m and potentially significantly more, rather than a few hundred thousand dollars,” Bassat said.

Just last month Square Peg invested $4 million in Australian tech start-up ­ScriptRock, equalling around half the total capital raised.

Square Peg also invested in beauty sampling startup bellabox.

(Disclosure: Allure Media, publisher of Business Insider, recently acquired a significant stake in bellabox)

The VC has also jumped on opportunities in Israel, with investor Dan Krasnostein leading up the company’s expansion plans.

Bassat said Square Peg had been watching the Israeli marketplace over the past year and was “staggered by the opportunities, staggered by the entrepreneurs and angel investors,” noting that “people in the tech ecosystem were very supportive and welcoming.”

“The Israeli market is by any measure the No 2 ­market ­globally behind Silicon Valley,” Bassat said, adding “we can differentiate ourselves by being very entrepreneur friendly, in terms of the model we have — having local representation.”

In August, Square Peg led a $US6 million series-A investment round in Tel Aviv-based algorithm pricing and business intelligence platform Feedvisor.

Earlier this month, the World Economic Forum released its annual report of the globe’s most competitive economies, ranking Israel 3rd in innovation and 15th in technological readiness.

Until now, Israel has been targeted by large US VC firms and the maturing tech industry has, so far, produced 68 public companies traded on Nasdaq.

Continuing its overseas expansion Square Peg foundation investor and Seek co-founder Matt Rockman relocated to Los Angeles, providing the company with a point-of-contact in the thriving US market.

“Thinking you can be sitting in Sydney and Melbourne and getting access to some of the best deals in the world is pretty unrealistic,” Bassat said.

“Matt, through his networks, will be able to find some ­really great deal flow. We think he will open doors.”

Bassat stressed that Square Peg is “not focused or driven by targets for investment amounts, other than as the investment opportunities present appropriately.”

Despite the push towards overseas investment, over the next five to 10 years, “the likelihood is that Aus­tralia will remain our biggest market, Israel will be next, and the US will be the third-biggest,” Bassat said.

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