Razer launches zVentures, a new $30M fund for IoT, robotics, VR and gaming startups

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Razer originally started as a hardware company making mice, keyboards and other peripherals optimised for dedicated computer gaming, with its mantra being “For Gamers, By Gamers.” Now, 18 years into its life, it’s changing things up a bit.

While the company continues to build hardware and its newer software business, Razer is now also announcing zVentures, a new fund of $30 million that the company plans to invest across a wide range of startups in areas like Internet of Things, big data analytics, virtual and augmented reality, robotics and Android games — all areas that Razer is already working on and planning to explore more in the future.

It will also look at startups that are working more behind the scenes but in areas that are also important for Razer as it grows. That includes those who are developing tech for supply chain management, sales and marketing, and more.

“zVentures is a fund for startups, by a startup,” Min-Liang Tan, CEO and co-founder of Razer, said. “Our focus is to bring value by sharing the solutions of our portfolio companies with the Razer community, supporting them with our hardware and software expertise and making available our global retail and distribution networks.” Tan is going to be on stage at TC Disrupt, our conference, later today, where he will talk more about the fund and Razer.

The investments will be focused on early-stage startups, with the size of investment typically ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. zVentures will be based out of San Francisco and Singapore.

The company tells me that there have already been some investments made out of the fund although it’s not yet disclosing them. There are also deals “in the pipeline” in VR, e-commerce and gaming.

The goals here are two-fold for the company: it’s helping Razer support the community around the things that it cares about as a business; and it’s helping to create a funnel of companies that might work closer with it down the line. In other words, it’s similar to many other company’s strategic investment funds, from smaller operations like the Slack Fund through to larger operations like Intel Capital. (Or perhaps more relevant, activities like HTC’s investments into areas of interest like VR.)

With the investments, Razer will also give portfolio companies access to its customer base of 20 million active users who are keen on trying new tech and are loyal to the Razer brand; Razer’s software and hardware expertise; and its distribution network.

We’d been hearing some murmurs about this fund for a while now, although this is the first official news about it. ZVentures is a development on two smaller, $5 million funds that Razer already had. One, revealed earlier this year, is called the OSVR Development Fund. It is being used specifically to invest in startups building open-source VR content for multiple platforms. As with the larger zVentures fund, the idea is to make strategic investments: Razer itself is also building headgear compliant with open source and this is to make sure that there will be a big mix of content being made for it.

The other is another $5 million fund that Razer has been quietly using to advance Android gaming as part of OUYA Publishing, which it picked up in its acquisition of Android gaming console OUYA in 2015. Both of these $5 million funds are now getting rolled into zVentures and the $30 million total, Razer tells me.

While Razer itself is kicking in some money directly to zVentures, there are other backers in it, too, comprised of some of the company’s own investors, the company told me. It wouldn’t specify which of these are involved. To date, Razer has disclosed around $125 million in funding, although as we reported in 2014 there was also a round led by Intel whose size Razer never disclosed (but has confirmed) that catapulted its valuation into the $1 billion range (it’s now valued at more than $1.5 billion). In addition to Intel, its investors include Accel, IDG, Temasek’s Heliconia Capital Management, and China’s LianLuo.

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