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Monk's Hill Ventures

Yahoo Japan Invests In Monk’s Hill Ventures’ Fund For Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia-based VC firm Monk’s Hill Ventures has welcomed a big name investor to its list of LPs after Yahoo Japan, the internet portal and $24 billion valued joint venture between Yahoo and SoftBank*, invested an undisclosed amount into its inaugural fund.

Monk’s Hill is a relatively new addition to the investor landscape in Southeast Asia, but it is a firm bubbling with credentials. Founded last year by principals Peng T. Ong — co-founder of Match.com and founder of NASDAQ-listed Interwoven — and Kuo-Yi Lim, formerly CEO of Infocomm Investments, its initial fund is targeted at reaching $80 million.

There was (and still is, for that matter) room for additional LPs. Yahoo Japan — which invested via its YJ Capital fund — is one such late arrival. Lim told TechCrunch in an interview that the remaining slots for the first fund — which he said would be active for “three to four more years, at the very least” — will be filled by the end of September.

Lim declined to say exactly how much Yahoo Japan added to the coffers, but he called it an “important and strategic investor”. Beyond a validation for the year-old VC firm, it’s a partner that will unlock new opportunities, Lim said.

“The fund will retain the same focus on startups across Southeast Asia,” he explained. “But [Yahoo Japan’s involvement] adds a different dimension in terms of market potential for our portfolio companies.”

Specifically, the two organizations intend to work together to expand each others’ networks, source new deals and help portfolio companies enter Japan.

To date, Monk’s Hill — which has offices in Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia — has opened its purse for just four startups. Lim said, however, that a number of new deals and follow-on investments will be announced soon.

Southeast Asia has long attracted interest from Japanese investors, there are at least a dozen firms or funds from the country active in the region. YJ Capital began investing in the region this year — with participation in rounds for Singapore’s Astroscale and VIP Plaza in Indonesia — and its involvement in Monk’s Hill Ventures’ fund suggests that there’s a lot more to come

Monk’s Hill isn’t just focused on Southeast Asia, however. A small chunk of its fund is available for general investments, and particularly global firms that expand into Southeast Asia, Lim said. At this point, few companies have made that move, but Lim said he believes that it is still early days.

*Point of note: Yahoo is still figuring out exactly what to do with its 35.5 percent share of Yahoo Japan — worth an incredible $9 billion — following its move to spin out its lucrative stake in Alibaba. Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman recently told an investor call only that U.S. firm is “focused on maximizing value of our stake” in its Japanese venture.

Update: The original version of this story was edited to clarify that YJ Capital is investing in the fund, not Yahoo Japan directly.

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