It was in 2017 when Saoud AlHumaidhi first discovered the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. “I came across the book “Ethereum” by Henning Diedrich, which immediately sucked me into the potential of digital assets,” he recalls. It was then and there that AlHumaidhi, a serial entrepreneur and graduate of the University of Southern California, with a track record in several industries such as food, fitness, media, and automotive, became exposed with emerging technologies and started dreaming up the possible effects of technology in general, and blockchain specifically, on the MENA region and the world.
Convinced that digital assets will affect the financial industry just as profoundly as the advent of the internet transformed media, he decided to head to the United States to meet with industry leaders and further explore the opportunity. Little did he know this journey would take him beyond the blockchain and crypto space, and into launching SBX, a stage and industry-agnostic investment holding company investing in emerging technologies and traditional assets, which will benefit from these technologies.
It All Started with Blockchain
Shortly after he visited the States, AlHumaidhi co-founded EastChain Co., a venture capital investment firm focused on blockchain-based companies. The VC firm has since invested in 5 international startups. Republic, an equity crowdfunding platform where everyone can invest as little as $10 in early stage startups to real estate, and Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties. Dapper Labs uses blockchain to develop digital assets and experiences, which users can own in return. The company is currently developing digital products for the NBA. EastChain has also invested in: digital asset market, Amun, blockchain-powered freelancer marketplace, Braintrust, and asset tokenization solution, Liquefy.
“I believe that the new, truly digital economy will transform the asset management space, as profoundly as the internet and social media has transformed the advertisement and media world.”
Beyond drawing correlations between the effect of the internet on media and the effect of emerging technologies on wealth management, he is also interested in the digital content space and how it will increasingly play into and converge with asset management with time. Previously the co-founder of a digital content agency in Kuwait, Saoud sits on the board and is an investor in FOUNDERSMEDIA, a MENA based media network and parent company of era and WAYA.
The Vision of SBX
“Ten years ago, technology was an industry. Within the next ten years, every industry will have technology at its core; that is no doubt.”
Now, AlHumaidhi has developed his vision even further, consolidating his assets and previous investments under SBX Capital, where he wants to create a whole new model for venture capital and asset management. SBX allows investors to participate in rounds on a deal-per-deal basis through its membership platform, sbxcap. The stage and industry agnostic holding company gives subscribers of the platform access to high-quality technology-centric non-technical Arabic content, insights, and ongoing co-investment opportunities. Thereby, providing investors with the necessary tools to make informed investment decisions and fully integrating them into the investment process. “Think of it as mindshare syndication”.
On themes pursued, AlHumaidhi stated that SBX Capital deploys capital with a focus on various emerging technologies such as blockchain, gaming, genomics, VR, robotics, and autonomous transportation.
While COVID19 affected business as usual, SBX closed a $2M seed-round last month to capitalize its management company and build out its technology stack. Most recently, SBX deployed its first GCC investment of $4 million in leading Kuwaiti proptech company, Ajar, a cloud-based property management and rent collection platform.
“We are betting on a transformation of money and banking. It is possible that 2-3 years from today, that Ajar becomes a better credit assessor of the region’s real estate than banks. That Tribal becomes a better credit assessor of UAE’s up and coming digital businesses than banks and that Capiter becomes a better credit assessor of Egypt’s food suppliers and sellers than banks. Ajar is our entry into the digitization of one of the biggest and most important asset classes in the region: Real Estate, which also happens to be one of the most traditional and ripe for transformation,” he explained.
“Ten years ago, technology was an industry. Within the next ten years, every industry will have technology at its core; that is no doubt,” added AlHumaidhi. “Therefore, a hyper-focused, technology-centric approach to deploying capital into regional businesses makes all the more sense. We will pursue these bets in a way that allows us to capture significant value from the digitization of traditional industries on the long run by providing capital, credit, and network support.”
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