When Is An Airline Not An Airline?

Airlines have transformed into many things these days; online portals, travel noosing sites, loyalty rewards companies and now Venture Capitalists.

AirAsia’s digital venture arm, RedBeat Ventures, recently announced that it is launching a global venture capital fund, RedBeat Capital in cooperation with 500 Startups, a startup accelerator and venture capital firm based in San Francisco.

RedBeat Capital is designed to support post-seed stage startups, investing in scalable startups seeking to enter or expand their presence in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on:

  • Travel and lifestyle
  • Logistics
  • Financial technology
RedBeat Capital will also invest in digital enablers to support these verticals such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and cybersecurity

500 Startups’ current portfolio comprises of 2,210 companies and over 5,000 founders in 74 countries – including 10 unicorns such as Twilio, SendGrid, Credit Karma, Canva and Grab, as well as 66 other companies valued at over US$100 million. RedBeat Capital will also seek to co-invest in select 500 Startups portfolio companies.

“Talent is both universal and abundant in all corners of the world, especially in Southeast Asia,” said Christine Tsai, CEO of 500 Startups. “Moreover, this region has more internet users than the US, which presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs. To have an industry titan like AirAsia building a bridge with Silicon Valley through its partnership with 500 is exciting for our startups, many of which have ambitions for global scale.”

So to answer the question, When is an airline not an airline, we’d say when it has expanded into multiple digital ventures. AirAsia is definitely leading the world in this area.

RedBeat Ventures currently operates a number of digital-related businesses, including BIGLIFE (AirAsia BIG Loyalty, travel360.com and Vidi), ROKKI, BigPay and RedCargo Logistics, and, through RedBeat Capital, will continue to look for investment opportunities in the high-tech digital space across Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas.