Image: AirAsia

AirAsia today announced it is launching a $60-million venture capital fund in the United States to invest in and support scalable startups in the travel and lifestyle, financial technology, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity sectors that want to enter or expand their presence in Southeast Asia.

The Malaysian low-cost carrier’s digital venture arm RedBeat Ventures is launching the fund in partnership with 500 Startups, a San Francisco-based seed stage startup accelerator and venture capital firm. 500 Startups has supported more than 2,000 companies including Twilio, SendGrid and Grab, a Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm.

Led by RedBeat Ventures CEO and AirAsia Group Deputy CEO Aireen Omar, RedBeat Capital will operate independently of AirAsia and be based in both San Francisco and Southeast Asia. “Collaborating with digital, tech-enabled startups will help us to innovate and advance our position as a market-leading travel technology company, and we look forward to exploring the integration of new, disruptive ideas into our growing portfolio of digital businesses,” Omar said.

“What better place to start than right here in San Francisco.” – Tony Fernandes AirAsia Group

“AirAsia and RedBeat Capital are on the lookout for the world’s best and brightest to help us develop a travel technology ecosystem. What better place to start than right here in San Francisco,” said AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes. He said the fund aims to begin operations this year and will work with 500 Startups to identify and invest in startups that are willing to grow and expand into Southeast Asia where they can make use of AirAsia’s network, data and regional expertise.

“Talent is both universal and abundant in all corners of the world, especially in Southeast Asia.” – Christine Tsai, 500 Startups

“Talent is both universal and abundant in all corners of the world, especially in Southeast Asia,” said Christine Tsai, CEO of 500 Startups. “Moreover, this region has more internet users than the US, which presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs. To have an industry titan like AirAsia building a bridge with Silicon Valley through its partnership with 500 is exciting for our startups, many of which have ambitions for global scale.”