FEBRUARY 15 2021
Published in the Australian Financial Review
Local venture capital outfit Our Innovation Fund has hired former Amazon Web Services Australia and New Zealand boss Paul Migliorini as a partner as it revealed it has banked $80 million for a new fund, bringing its total assets under management to $155 million.
The VC fund has flown under the radar compared to big names like Square Peg, Blackbird and Airtree, but has amassed a portfolio of successful investments in the likes of education tech start-up Go1, cyber security company Kasada, artificial intelligence navigation and robotics business Advanced Navigation and open source-as-a-service company Instaclustr.
OIF revealed last year that its first fund had a compounded annual rate of return of 32.7 per cent after tax, which would put it in the top quartile of global funds.
Originally it was targeting $75 million, but it has now surpassed that target and the fund remains open for final commitments. All the capital is raised from high net worth individuals, family offices, CEOs and successful founders, rather than institutions.
Mr Migliorini, who is a 20-year tech industry veteran, joined AWS in 2015, leading the ANZ business for four years before taking on a leadership role across the Asia Pacific.
He left the business last year, telling The Australian Financial Review it was a personal decision to leave Amazon because the next step in his career with the company would have involved moving overseas, but he wanted to take a step back and focus on his family.
“I never really envisaged myself in the fund world or venture world. I felt first and foremost that I enjoyed operational roles,” said Mr Migliorini, who is now a venture partner with OIF and a member of its investment committee.
”But the insight I got … [is this role] gives me the ability to impact and help a new generation of founders.
“When I started at AWS in the early part of 2015, Afterpay had just started, Atlassian was pre-IPO, Canva was still a very young company and Xero starting to accelerate. Today there’s many thousands of founders with that sort of opportunity in front of them.”
OIF first connected with Mr Migliorini when its portfolio company Kasada presented at one of AWS’ events.
He said a discussion with OIF general partner and co-founder David Shein convinced him to join.
“I remember him telling me at the time that if he had a choice between a 5x return that screwed the founder and a 3x return, he’d take the 3x and that resonated with me,” he said.
OIF has already made six investments from its new fund, deploying just over 10 per cent of the $80 million in capital. All up it is intending to back 12 to 18 companies.
While Mr Migliorini said he did not spend much time with Jeff Bezos while at Amazon, he did regularly engage with Andy Jassy, who is set to take the reins of Amazon later this year.
Mr Migliorini said he hopes to bring some of Amazon’s magic to OIF’s portfolio companies, including helping them scale and maintain a customer-first culture.
“One thing Amazon does really well is it operates through a set of core leadership principles, which means it can decentralise decision-making in an effective way,” he said.
“People close to the customer are empowered to make decisions at a high velocity.”