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Eduardo Saverin: From Social Media to Singapore

Eduardo Saverin

 

To know where the future of Asian investment is heading, there’s one investor that’s worth keeping an eye on – and he’s not even Asian. In fact, Eduardo Saverin is Brazilian but he’s also currently the second richest resident of Singapore. Forbes’ real time wealth counter puts his total worth at $10.1bn, which places him at #148 in the Billionaire’s List 2018 at the age of 36.

As one of the region’s biggest angel investors though his B Capital fund, which finances tech start-ups, Eduardo Saverin believes he could be the one to spot the next Facebook. “I believe there’s a new Facebook out there to be found,” Saverin told Veja, a leading Brazilian current affairs magazine, in 2012. “Where? My guess is in healthcare.”

And why should Eduardo Saverin know what the next Facebook will look like? He co-founded Facebook with better known entrepreneur and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The vast majority of his wealth is derived from the tech giant, even though he only owns 2 per cent of the company, which still amounts to 53m shares that are currently worth $175 each.

Viewers of David Fincher’s 2010 film The Social Network will be familiar with him as the cautious, by-the-book CFO and business manager to Sean Parker’s fun-loving playboy. Saverin has since called actor Andrew Garfield’s portrayal, and the film more generally, as ‘Hollywood fantasy’. There are a few details it did get right, though; he did study economics at Harvard University where he met Zuckerberg in his junior year. And he was invited to join the exclusive Phoenix Club, largely because of his standing on campus as a promising businessman. He’d made a name for himself as a student by making $300,000 investing in the oil industry and, before university, he’d been a competitive chess player.

Born in Sao Paulo to a businessman and a psychologist, the Jewish Brazilian family moved to Miami when Saverin was 11. He co-founded The Facebook is 2004 but soon found himself being cut off from the social network and his initial stake reduced, as outlined in a now infamous scoop by Business Insider. A bitter court case ensued, as dramatised in The Social Network, and matters were settled between Zuckerberg and Saverin out of court, though Saverin left with his title as co-founder reinstated.

Though he never spoke about the matter – due to a non-disclosure agreement – Saverin says “there are no hard feelings” between the entrepreneurs. He simply took the impressive title to Singapore in 2006, where he set about using his credentials to support up-and-coming tech start-ups.

But even his move abroad didn’t come without controversy. Saverin denounced his US citizenship in 2011 “based on my interest in living and working in Singapore”, though many were suspicious of the timing. Facebook was about to go public with one of the biggest flotation prices in technology history. The USA is unusual in that taxation is dependent on citizenship, rather than residence, and by denouncing his citizenship, Saverin was estimated to have saved $700m in capital gains tax (which does not exist in Singapore).

Politicians who saw this as tax avoidance called for him to be barred from re-entering the United States, but Eduardo Saverin insists it’s because he’s become more interested in investing in Asian markets and he still pays all the taxes required of him by the US government. Incidentally, his father Roberto noted that “financial investments are more restricted and bureaucratic for those holding a US passport”.

Saverin has used his time in Singapore wisely, creating venture fund B Capital in 2016 with veteran investor Raj Ganguly from BCG and Bain Capital. So far, they’ve raised $360m to fund late-stage tech firms across a broad spectrum of disciplines.

Healthcare certainly seems a key interest; B Capital’s portfolio currently features no fewer than four start-ups that use health data to provide services to both service providers and clients in private medicine, including Bright.md, CXA Group, Evidation and MYIA. Travel data is also covered by Journea and a blog on the website speaks of the huge potential of the Indian tourism industry. To help grow SMEs, he’s invested in MSwipe, an Indian payments system, and Capital Match, which helps finance growing companies in Singapore. Ninja Van, a private courier company, hopes to modernise the Singaporean postal system, Carro is a platform to buy and sell cars in Singapore and he’s even invested in Fishbrain, a social network for anglers.

If the next tech unicorn is going to be found in Asia, Eduardo Saverin is in prime position to be not only the co-founder of Facebook, but the main investor in the next Facebook, too

Eduardo Saverin has used his time in Singapore wisely, creating venture fund B Capital in 2016 with veteran investor Raj Ganguly from BCG and Bain Capital. So far, they’ve raised $360m to fund late-stage tech firms across a broad spectrum of disciplines.

Healthcare certainly seems a key interest; B Capital’s portfolio currently features no fewer than four start-ups that use health data to provide services to both service providers and clients in private medicine, including Bright.md, CXA Group, Evidation and MYIA. Travel data is also covered by Journea and a blog on the website speaks of the huge potential of the Indian tourism industry. To help grow SMEs, he’s invested in MSwipe, an Indian payments system, and Capital Match, which helps finance growing companies in Singapore. Ninja Van, a private courier company, hopes to modernise the Singaporean postal system, Carro is a platform to buy and sell cars in Singapore and he’s even invested in Fishbrain, a social network for anglers.

If the next tech unicorn is going to be found in Asia, Eduardo Saverin is in prime position to be not only the co-founder of Facebook, but the main investor in the next Facebook, too.

 

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