Mubadala’s Ibrahim Ajami on a long-term approach to tech investments: Business Extra

The head of ventures at Abu Dhabi’s strategic investment fund is looking at 25-year time horizons

Ibrahim Ajami joins this week to talk about Mubadala's evolving technology investment strategy.

The head of ventures at Abu Dhabi’s strategic investment fund is looking at 25-year time horizons, longer than the typical private equity investor, and is working to build bridges between Abu Dhabi and tech hubs around the world.

Last month, Mubadala announced a deal with US private equity group Silver Lake, one of the world's biggest tech investors this century, backed by a $2 billion investment in a new fund.

Silver Lake has invested in companies like Airbnb, SenseTime, Alibaba and Twitter.

Prior to the deal, Mubadala had invested alongside Silver Lake in Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car tech company, and in Jio, India’s answer to Alibaba.

"We would rather take a long-term perspective, especially in a company that we believe could one day be worth $200 billion or half a trillion dollars with a partner like Silver Lake," Mr Ajami said.

"Increasingly, the ten year fund timelines, it takes longer for tech companies to become dominant. You are seeing some investors operating within time horizons that are not really consistent with long-term returns."

With an asset base of $232bn, Mubadala is at the heart of the Abu Dhabi’s plans to diversify the emirate's revenue base and generate income from sources other than oil. The company’s venture portfolio spans five continents with a focus on technology, mobility, logistics, HealthTech, e-commerce and financial services.

Mr Ajami also talks about launching the Ajami Foundation overnight, a personal effort with his wife Annelie to help people displaced by the Beirut explosion on August 4, which they witnessed.

While the first priority was helping with housing, he is now eyeing grant-making opportunities to small businesses and promising entrepreneurs.

"There is an overarching opportunity for Lebanon and Beirut to start again and get it right," he said. "This is an opportunity for businesses to renew how they run their business [through technology]."

In this episode

  • Mubadala and Silver Lake (0m 44s)
  • The 25-year investment horizon (6m 50s)
  • 'Doubling down' on tech in 2020 (9m 00s)
  • Will the lessons we learnt from the pandemic stick? (14m 10s)
  • The UAE-Israel $3 billion Abraham Fund (16m 03s)
  • The Ajami Foundation for Beirut (17m 14s)

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