A diverse and dynamic team of professionals from Blackbird standing together for a group photo. They are dressed in casual business attire, with matching white and lavender tops, showcasing a sense of unity and teamwork. The group is positioned against a unique geometric-patterned wall, smiling and looking towards the future, symbolizing the collaborative spirit and forward-thinking ethos of the Blackbird company.

2023 Year In Review

Date Published:
December 20, 2023

Today we’re sharing our wrap on another wild and remarkable year at Blackbird.

We’re also looking for our next Investment Team member!

Blackbird's Investment Team

$189M into Aussie and Kiwi startups

2023 was not an easy year, but it gifted us some of the most exceptional founders we’ve seen in Australia, Aotearoa, and globally. 

From software to space, 2023 was a year jam-packed with incredible and diverse founders like Aquila who are using light-beams to transport energy across the globe wirelessly to Clove, a two-sided marketplace bringing personalised recipes to home cooking.

Our 2023 founders are as ambitious and hungry as ever - and we’re so proud to be backing them… check out some of our incredible 2023 founder stories here.

The 2023 secret sauce = consistency

We continued to invest consistently… 

At the time of writing, we’ve written 38 cheques this year (14 new and 24 follow-on rounds) from a A$370k pre-seed to A$22M Series C, following a similar pace to 2020 to 2022.

We continued to invest early… 

We have always invested early and 2023 was no different. 

We invested AI-rly. 

2023 saw an explosion of generative AI and AI enabled businesses, driven by rapid improvements in algorithmic and energy efficiency and accessibility of large language models. 

Tom Humphrey and Silk Kadala explored the AI breakout and landscape kicking off a four-part River of Inquiry into AI. Part 3 is hot off the press and dives into our framework for how companies can build competitive moat in AI.

We saw this breakout reflected in our pipeline, investing A$66.9M into eight AI and AI enabled companies, double that of 2022.

We continued investing in deep-tech.

36% of capital deployed (A$67.6M) this year was into deep tech companies, consistent with percentages deployed in 2021 and 2022.

“Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” - John Maxwell

A year filled with ecosystem love

Beyond investing, our team was busy supercharging the ecosystem through Sunrise, Giants, Foundry, WildHearts and founder and community events across the globe from Sydney-Canberra-Brisbane-Adelaide-Perth-Auckland-Wellington-Melbourne-SF-London-NYC. 

2023 reminded us of the true power in community, transparency and ecosystem action.

✨In 2023 ✨
  • Joel, Phoebe, Sam, James and Izzy hosted >900 people and 47 speakers at not just the biggest Sunrise Aotearoa but the largest startup event in Aotearoa ever. Teaser here Sunrise Australia 2022, by Blackbird
  • Meg helped >500 Giants startups validate their idea in 2023, facilitating 1901 one-on-one mentoring sessions with the best founders, operators, VCs, angels and investors across Australia and Aotearoa. 
  • We hosted 42 portfolio events with 983 portfolio founders and operators. Dani, Luc and Ella hosted our first multi-day retreat in Queenstown, Aotearoa with 65 Blackbird founders.
  • Mason launched Season 4 of Wild Hearts, Blackbird’s podcast revealing secrets from founders looking to change the world. 
  • Clare and Tolo revamped Foundry, our flagship deep tech program, and matched 10 teams of PhD students with 10 world-class founders from Blackbird’s deep tech portfolio to help turn their PhD into a startup. 
  • Kate and Nick published our gender pipeline data for the first time, and we committed to invest in more women and non-binary founders.
  • Rick featured in startup docuseries Founder - an authentic look into what it takes to be a founder.
  • Tolo, James and Luc launched The Global Flock to bring the best of Blackbird hospitality to the US and UK for Aussies and Kiwis in tech worldwide through 8 events in 3 cities with more than 400 people.
  • We published our Investor Growth Framework to help grow our investor ecosystem, and create clear pathways for current and future Associates, Principals and Partners.

This is just a small snapshot of life in the investment team at Blackbird. 

It’s our life’s work to be finding the most ambitious Australian and Kiwi founders building generational companies, and backing them from the very beginning. 

And we’re looking for you to help us.

Are you up for the challenge?

Apply to our Principal and Associate positions in 2024. Until then, we will leave you with a poem (which may or may not be enhanced by AI).

In twenty-three, founders soared,
With innovation, tech and talent galore.
AI's rise, deep tech's cheer,
2023 sure was a transformative year,
Twenty-four beckons, more in store!
Perhaps investments in founders met on tour?
We move forward seeking wildhearts, true and keen,
And we won’t stop until all the seeds are seen.