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Saudi Arabia’s $620B Wealth Fund Has Backed Crypto-friendly VCs

Saudi Arabia has disclosed investments in nearly 40 US venture capital firms, including some deep in crypto, blockchain and Web3-related investments.

Sanabil, the venture arm of the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle Public Investment Fund, commits around $2 billion annually into multiple funding rounds to develop businesses with novel business models, according to its website.

The fund now lists investments in the likes of Andreessen Horowitz (A16z), Coatue Management, KKR and Peter Thiel-backed Valar Ventures. The news was first reported by The Information.

Funds associated with Web3 and blockchain: A16z, Polychain Capital, Griffin Gaming Partners, 500 Startups, 9Yards, B Capital, Collaborative Fund, Costanoa, Craft Ventures, Dragoneer, Greenoaks Capital, Human Capital, ICONIQ Capital, Insight Partners, KKR, Legend Capital, Race Capital, Soma Capital, TCV, Techstars, Third Point Venture, Uncorrelated, Valar Ventures, Valor Equity Partners and Village Global.

Details on exact investments, including contributions and dates, for each fund haven’t been disclosed. The outlet noted that VCs have been guarded about their links to Saudi Arabia after the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside a Saudi consulate.

Sanabil assigns 50% of asset allocation to venture capital, 30% to private equity and 20% to a liquid portfolio. While it has disclosed backing crypto-friendly venture capital firms, it’s unknown whether its liquid portfolio includes digital assets.

Saudi Arabia and the metaverse

Saudi Arabia has made moves to diversify its economy beyond depending on revenue from oil exports since 2016.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the time announced plans to reshape the Saudi economy into a “global investment powerhouse,” and gradually wean reliance on crude by 2020.

In a message outlining his vision for 2030, Mohammed bin Salman wrote that Saudi Arabia would “transform the Public Investment Fund into the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.”

“Our nation holds strong investment capabilities, which we will harness to stimulate our economy and diversify our revenues,” he said.

Saudi Arabia has plans to build a twin version of its futuristic, $500-billion desert city Neom in a metaverse offering, but it’s unclear whether it will utilize blockchain or crypto.

The government however signed a memorandum of understanding with The Sandbox earlier this year, which will see the blockchain startup advise and potentially collaborate on metaverse projects in the future.

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