Temasek Seeking Shifting Its Focus to AI and Blockchain
SingaporeSi‘s state investment firm became the latest major institution in line to jump onto the blockchain bandwagon, as the company is reportedly looking into exploring the technology for in-house use. Government-owned, Temasek has reported its Asia-focused portfolio to be worth around $235 billion as of spring 2018.
According to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg, the company is creating so-called “experimental pods” to focus on artificial intelligence and blockchain, which it sees as long-term trends impacting multiple industries and geographies. Chia Song Hwee, the chief operating officer of key management arm Temasek International Pte, will reportedly oversee the new groups.
The memo showed that the new strategy was announced alongside other organizational changes that took effect on October 1, 2018, and was confirmed by a Temasek spokesperson. The document also revealed that Temasek was one of the 40 institutions that invested in R3, a global banking consortium, and blockchain software company. The investment was made as part of a collective $107 million Series A fundraising round in May 2017, which was pitched at the time as being “the largest” DLT investment to date.
The company also participated in a $600 million series C funding round in April for China’s SenseTime Group Ltd., the world’s most valuable AI startup, and helped lead an A round in June for London-based Eigen Technologies, which automates the extraction of unstructured data.
Seeking Greater Agility for Opportunistic Deals Requiring Fast Turnaround
In an emailed response to Bloomberg, a spokesman for Temasek said that the company had been expanding its business coverage and geographic footprint over the past few years and that their goal was to well-positioned to capture opportunities that deliver sustainable value over the long term. Temasek wrote in the memo:
“As the investment landscape becomes more competitive and complex, we are now seeing more situations where we would benefit from collaboration and specialized capabilities wider than our traditional sector and market team approach.”
The company will be setting up a new Strategic Initiatives unit, which will improve the company’s response to opportunistic deals requiring fast turnaround and senior-level assessment. The unit will pull in resources from other parts of Temasek and will be led by Tan Chong Lee, who is head of Europe, Middle East, and Africa as well as Southeast Asia.
Temasek said it has identified the Americas, China, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, India and Southeast Asia as “investment markets” where it’s actively doing deals and allocating capital.
The memo also identified Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand as “engagement markets” where the company will primarily focus on institutional network building.