MONEY TALKS

Global Ventures’ Sweid says portfolio firms are pivoting to AI

Singaporean venture capital fund Golden Gate announced its first $100 million MENA fund this week and is eyeing B2B AI, its founder says

Noor Sweid, Founder and Managing Partner of Global Ventures, speaking at the Web Summit in Doha earlier this year. (Getty Images)

The state of the venture capital market — and how it is being reshaped by artificial intelligence — was top of the agenda on Thursday, the final day of the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha, with partners from Global Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures and Alpha Wave Global sounding off on a panel.

“Our founders, they’ve struggled the same amount they’ve always struggled,” Noor Sweid, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Global Ventures, said with a laugh.

The Dubai venture capitalist was commenting on the state of venture funding that has seen deal activity and check sizes plunge globally, as she emphasized that the region’s start-ups — for whom she is a vocal champion — are no strangers to dealing with challenges. Startups tend to be cash flow positive faster and demonstrate good business fundamentals because they are used to being in a cash-constrained funding environment, Sweid said.

Sweid also noted a trend toward Global Ventures’ portfolio companies pivoting to integrate AI tools, adding that of the more than 60 startups the six-year-old Dubai VC has backed, 40% of them could be considered AI firms today.  

Golden Gate Ventures Founder Vinnie Lauria, speaking alongside Sweid, said the Singaporean fund is eyeing B2B AI investments and said there is a strengthening corridor between his portfolio companies from Southeast Asia and the Gulf, as they find a foothold in cities like Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to access the regional market.  

Golden Gate, founded by Silicon Valley natives, announced its first $100 million MENA fund on Wednesday with $20 million in commitments from Al Khor Holding, Al Attiya Group and Sheikh Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani. 

Rick Gerson, Co-Founder and Chairman of U.S. asset manager Alpha Wave Global, noted the $1.5 billion Microsoft investment in Abu Dhabi AI firm G42 as the “first large-scale demonstration of AI’s success in the region.” In 2022, the Miami Beach-based firm took on the co-management of a $10 billion VC fund with Abu Dhabi’s Chimera Capital. Gerson also noted the significant amount of exposure Alpha Wave has in India, adding that the Middle East represents a massive, largely untapped opportunity for the firm’s portfolio. 

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