500 Startups has announced a second 500 Durians venture fund that will be used to back startups in Southeast Asia. The new vehicle has a target of $50 million, more than twice the size of the first 500 Durians vehicle, which launched in 2013 and closed on $22 million last year. An initial close is expected in the next couple months, with a final close to follow in 2017. The fund will typically make investments of around $100,000 but could go as high as $250,000 with some checks.
Long a second-class citizen behind India and China when it comes to VC activity in the eastern hemisphere, Southeast Asia is quickly emerging as a market where technology shapes people's lives in unique ways. The success of Grab—in which 500 Startups was an early investor—is the most obvious example. Now reportedly in the process of raising a new round at a valuation around $2.3 billion, the company has taken the Uber model of providing on-demand rides and adapted it to the region's specific needs; since traffic congestion is a huge issue in many Southeast Asian countries, Grab's on-demand motorbike service is quite popular.
With its new 500 Durians vehicle, 500 Startups will surely seek similar companies specially suited for a corner of the globe undergoing rapid technological transformation.