After running Neoteny Labs as Principal and making 24 investments since May 2010, James Chan has announced on his blog the rebranding of his early-stage venture fund. It’s now called Silicon Straits, reflecting the narrow bodies of water that flow through much of Southeast Asia.
The change affects Neoteny Labs Pte Ltd, the Singapore-registered entity that was part of the National Research Foundation’s Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS), a government startup co-funding initiative. Neoteny Labs will continue to exist as an offshore Limited Partnership.
James unveiled the new development not long after Neoteny participated in a USD500K seed round in Burpple, a Singapore-based startup that has created a mobile food journal and discovery app. While Joi Ito, the General Partner of the fund, will continue to maintain its existing portfolio with James, he will be focused primarily in his new appointment as the director of the MIT Media Lab.
While Neoteny has a portfolio with startups from diverse geographical areas — including San Francisco — James writes that Silicon Straits will be primarily Southeast-Asia focused. Details are scant on this new entity, except that it’ll continue to be enlisted under the TIS scheme. More will be revealed in 2013, provided the world doesn’t end today.
While James will continue to be on the boards of Burpple, ImpulseFlyer, and TripVillas, he won’t be making any more new investments using Neoteny’s USD5M fund. He’s also seeking new partners on certain unspecified endeavors.
Besides Burpple, Neoteny’s previous investments in Asian startups have included Viki, an entertainment translation service, Insync, a syncing app for Google Docs, ImpulseFlyer, a private sales platform for hotels, and Animoca, a games development company.
While the above startups are either thriving or alive, Neoteny has had its fair share of failures too. Startups that have gone nowhere include Found, an app that arranges meetups between friends, Chalkboard, a mobile advertising startup that shut its doors in April this year, and Chumby, which failed to respond adequately to market shifts, most notably the rise of Apple’s iPhone.
We have contacted James for additional comments. We’ll update this article if he responds.
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