(Bloomberg) -- STV, a venture capital firm started by ex-Google executive Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, is looking to raise at least $1 billion for its second Middle East technology investment fund, making it potentially the biggest fund of its kind in the region, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company, formed in 2017 with $500 million provided entirely by Saudi Telecom Co., has started talks with other potential backers, including Middle East sovereign wealth funds and international pension funds and endowments, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.
A computer science graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tarabzouni worked at Morgan Stanley and Oracle Corp. before becoming head of emerging Arabia at Google in 2009. He subsequently held a number of roles at the search giant before leaving Silicon Valley to lead the launch of STV.
Interest in the technology industry in the Middle East has increased the past few years as governments seek to diversify their energy-dependent economies. Investor interest has been piqued by deals like the sale of Dubai-based ride hailing firm Careem to Uber for $3.1 billion in 2019. The pandemic has also accelerated a shift online for many businesses in a region that has a large tech-savvy young population but has been slower to embrace e-commerce.
Since its launch STV has backed many of the tech firms that have quickly risen to prominence. It was an early investor in Careem and also invested in communications platform Unifonic, which received a $125 million infusion led by SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2 in September.
STV declined to comment.
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