By Nancy Dahlberg
Making a significant bet on Latin American startup prowess, Marcelo Claure and Shu Nyatta announced the launch of their inaugural fund for Bicycle Capital, a new growth equity firm focused on the region. Bicycle I, already with initial commitments of about $440 million, is aiming to raise a $500 million fund.
Claure, founder and CEO of Claure Group, a multi-billion-dollar global investment firm, and former CEO of SoftBank Group International, will lead the new firm as executive chairman and managing partner. Nyatta, a former managing partner at SoftBank Group International where he, under the leadership of Claure, was a co-founder of SoftBank’s $8 billion Latin America Funds as well as the $100 million SB Opportunity Fund for under-represented founders in the US, is also managing partner of the new firm. The two have brought in three other former SoftBank colleagues as partners in São Paulo and Miami: Felipe Fujiwara, Ezequiel Piantoni and Matthew Pieterse, Bloomberg reported.
“This fund will be the cornerstone of my commitment to and focus on Latin America,” said Claure, who is well-known in the region and made a commitment to focus his time, capital and expertise to Latin America over the next several years after leaving SoftBank last year. Earlier this year, the Bolivian born entrepreneur with longtime roots in Miami as founder of Brightstar, invested $100 million in China-based Shein, a global ecommerce-focused fashion company, where he now serves as chairman of Latin America.
“Latin America has a unique combination of excellent founders, a digitally savvy population, and more opportunities than capital. Through Bicycle Capital, I am looking forward to deploying not only capital, but also my experience and connections to positively alter the trajectory of exceptional companies in the region,” Claure continued, in a statement.
Home to high profile startrups like Brazil’s NuBank and Colombia’s Rappi, Latin America is especially attractive because of its young, burgeoning middle class, particularly in Brazil and Mexico. The region is also experiencing attractive geopolitical and macro-economic tailwinds yet still too often overlooked by startup investors, the managing partners said. “I want Bicycle to be the one that helps Latin American entrepreneneurs grow their businesses,” Claure told Bloomberg Linea. The firm reportedly gets its name from Steve Jobs’ expression “a computer is a bicycle of the mind.”
Bicycle will seek to work closely with the region’s best founders, sharing extensive operational experience across geographies and industries, and will provide access to a global network of mentors, talent and commercial partners. The new fund may also invest opportunistically in global growth-stage companies with meaningful business in Latin America, the managing partners said. According to Bloomberg, the inaugural fund will focus on Series B and later rounds, with check sizes of about $20 million to $50 million, and it plans to invest in about 10 to 15 companies.
“The combination of talented founders and committed capital is a proven recipe for building great companies, but capital tends to be unevenly distributed. We get particularly energized when we find exceptional founders solving big problems in places that have been largely ignored by big pools of global capital, like Latin America. We believe these rare situations create the potential for outsized returns,” said Nyatta, in a statement.
Bicycle I is anchored by Mubadala Investment Company, an Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investor managing a global $284 billion portfolio, and Claure Group, which is Claure’s $4 billion family office based in Miami. Additional capital commitments for the initial closing come from prominent global tech investors and founders, including Brazilian billionaire Andre Esteves and NuBank co-founder David Velez, Bloomberg Linea reported.
Currently located in downtown Miami’s Southeast Financial Center, Claure Group recently broke ground on a 1 million-square-foot mixed-use project in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, the South Florida Business Journal reported.
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