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Daily Markup #573: Christine Tsai on CNN Marketplace Asia – investing in SEA, why founders shouldn’t go for the unicorn status, and more

Ching Yee Ho



Credit: CNN

Advancing Southeast Asia through entrepreneurship

  • 500 Global has been investing in Southeast Asia for close to a decade — the mission to uplift people and economies around the world through entrepreneurship hasn’t changed. But what has? 
  • Christine Tsai, CEO & Founding Partner of 500 Global, said, “When we first started investing in Southeast Asia, it was a very nascent market. But in 2022, it’s a completely different story.”
  • For one, Southeast Asia raised US$21.5B in private capital in 2021, up from US$8.8B in 2020. To date, 500 Global has invested in more than 2,500 companies, with over 300 based in Southeast Asia — and this number is growing! Our team is proud to have supported 7 companies that went on to become SE Asia’s unicorns (companies that are valued at US$1B or higher).
  • However, Christine cautions founders against making ‘unicorn’ status their main goal. “If I meet a founder that says, “My goal is to be a unicorn”, I do have question marks,” she shared. “Being a founder is such a difficult journey. What I’d like to see is that they’re really excited and passionate about what they’re building, empathy for the target customer, and they really want to build something iconic and big.”
  • Christine is committed to continue investing actively in Southeast Asia. Why? “We have seen a lot of opportunities around a broader category we call rural digitization. This could be around fintech, financial inclusion, as well as commerce,” she said. Our team also invests in frontier tech and mobility.
  • Watch the full interview on CNN.

Ching Yee Ho