mountain on a red and purple background

Completing the cycle for LPs

Date Published:
April 11, 2024

Reflecting on what our LPs mean to Blackbird, what's ahead for our investor community and why we're looking for our next IR superstar.

Vocab guide: In the world of venture capital, a General Partner (or GP) is the fund manager, a Limited Partner (or LP) is an investor in a venture capital fund. The terms come from the terminology of a Limited Partnership, the predominant vehicle used in the US for venture capital funds. 

What do our LPs mean to Blackbird?

GPs live a rather fragile existence. Without capital, we don’t exist. Without founders, we don’t exist. And so to continue to exist, we need to build enduring, meaningful relationships with both founders and our investors. 

The long-term nature of our LP relationships is enforced - fund documents that contractually commit their capital with us for at least ten years. But long-term does not automatically mean enduring. Enduring LP relationships are built over years (not just the months of due diligence investors undertake before committing to our funds). 

We aim to build our LP relationships through a complete venture cycle. We do this through steady, consistent pre-seed and seed investment; thoughtful, high conviction follow-on investment; being there for our founders day-in-day-out; and exiting our positions to return many multiples of invested capital to our LPs. Throughout this journey we provide transparency - in all weather conditions - because our LPs can only trust us when they truly know us.

Completing the first cycle

In 2012, Rick and Niki laid the foundations for the first generation of Blackbird LPs. This is a special group of OG investors who collectively committed A$29M to our first fund. 

With the close of the recent Canva tender, we have now returned over A$1B to early investors, with much more still to come in unrealised value. 

It is incredibly satisfying to be completing the cycle and many of those original investors have backed every vintage of Blackbird since. As a newer member of the Blackbird team, I stand on the shoulders of giants in building our fifth (2022) and sixth (2025) generation of LPs. 

How has our LP base evolved?

In our second fund, our individual LPs were joined by two leading Australian superannuation funds. These significant institutions, established in the ‘80s and ‘90s, are stewards of the retirement savings of millions of Australians. In 2015, when the opportunity in Australian start-ups was less obvious and venture capital was unpopular, it can’t have been an easy decision for the key decision makers at those superannuation funds to risk the capital of hospitality workers, government employees and healthcare workers; and we constantly remind ourselves on whose behalf we work.

Today, institutional capital makes up more than three quarters of our committed capital under management. We have also welcomed sovereign wealth funds, endowments and fund-of-fund LPs. In total, we manage A$2B of paid-in capital which is today worth A$7.2B in addition to over A$1B in distributions we have made to our investors over the years. 

The Blackbird team at our offsite late last year

What do the next twelve years look like?

As Blackbird continues its second decade, we will continue to return capital, facilitate even more Australians and New Zealanders investing in startups via our superannuation systems, and open the door for global institutions to back Antipodean ambition. These institutions will co-invest hundreds of millions of dollars with us to support portfolio companies to massively scale their impact with flow on effects in significant job creation in both Australia and New Zealand. 

Founders and individual investors - including our OG LPs - will continue to invest in our funds and also alongside us, as angel investors in their own right.  

Do you want to help us build enduring LP relationships?

If you are inspired by the ambition ahead, and want to help Blackbird and our investors support the next generation of Aussie and Kiwi founders, we want to meet you.

I will be passing the baton to a new Head of Investor Relations but staying on to continue to support our LPs in a part-time capacity. This decision is a deeply personal and meaningful one, inspired by recent life events and the incredibly bold visions I witness every day in Blackbird’s portfolio founders and operators. 

What’s involved in investor relations?

At the heart of investor relations at Blackbird is recognising our different (and at times competing) objectives between Blackbird as GP and our LPs; and operating with humility and curiosity to understand their objectives and the role we play in achieving them.

This means the investor relations team acts as a champion representing the interests of LPs within Blackbird, solving their pain points, providing information and experiences to amplify their belief in us and the portfolio. 

You will work with some of the incredible individuals behind our institutional LPs, including those who made that bold leap in 2015, and a diverse group of individual LPs - from self-managed super funds to captains of industry to newly minted tech entrepreneurs. You’ll seamlessly jump from strategy to execution to leverage the impact of the time our partners and founders spend with our LPs. 

To be part of building enduring LP relationships, you can check out the job description here or register for the "Ask me Anything" AMA here