RIYADH: CEO and co-founder of Silicon Valley investment firm Plug and Play Tech Center plans to establish a venture capital fund in Saudi Arabia and hopes to boost 100 start-ups.
Saeed Amidi, one of the early investors in PayPal and Google, described the qualities of Saudi startups as “fantastic” during an interview on the sidelines of Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Riyadh.
He said: “If all goes well, we would accelerate a hundred startups in 2022 in Saudi Arabia and invest in about 20 of them.”
“We have discussed that we will have a small fund here, which is about $25 million and from the fund we would do about $5 to $7 million a year for three years, for a total of around $25 million,” Amidi said.
He revealed that of the 20 startups appearing at an earlier event hosted by the Misk Foundation, his firm would be investing in four of them.
Plug and Play Tech Center also recently had an event with the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence that hosted 12 startups.
“We accelerated 12 startups. Six from Saudi Arabia and six from the wider region. So out of the 12, we are expected to invest in three of them. And that is actually better than the ratio that we do in California or internationally,” Amidi stated.
The firm is seeking to support the rising startup ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, and is hiring 20 people for its office in the Kingdom.
“But we hope that the success we have had in Silicon Valley for the last 16 years and in Europe for the last 10 years to bring it to Saudi Arabia this year,” Amidi said.
Amidi also said that Plug and Play has been working with Aramco, Riyadh Bank, and SABIC for three to four years, to improve their digital transformation.
Previous investments by Plug and Play Tech Center include Dropbox when it was just a team of two people, seeing financial rewards up to $35 million from just investing $150,000 in the startup.