London-Based AI VC Fund, Playfair Capital Moving To Africa

This is not exactly caused by Brexit. But for anything that might have warranted it, Playfair Capital, a popular venture capital fund based in London said it is moving out of the London (Europe) to East Africa.

Playfair Capital is owned by Federico Pirzio-Biroli. The VC fund specialises in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Playfair Capital has invested in popular startups such as restaurant app Dojo, DueDil, Vinaya, Stripe, Streethub, Hassle, and Stratajet all based in the UK and Europe.

Federico Pirzio-Biroli told Business Insider that:

“My decision to move to East Africa was made in November. I am and have always been personally excited by frontier markets, and feel like there is a real opportunity to move the needle there for the better. The startup ecosystem in London has developed in leaps and bounds since I began investing in 2010. Playfair capital is well positioned and will continue going from strength to strength without my operational involvement. I will be anchoring Playfair (Fund II) as an LP and have every confidence in the team going forward. Our dealflow (especially in the AI/ML space) is strong and we have several new deals which will be announced in due course. Crucially for the future, these deals have been entirely sourced, diligenced and executed without my input”

PlayFair Capital has released a statement confirming the decision saying- “Our growth as a firm coincided with the growth of so many startups that have come through the doors of Warner Yard. It has been such an honour and a privilege to spend so much time with so many fantastic entrepreneurs on a daily basis. And so, it is with a heavy heart that we oversee the transition of Warner Yard away from co-working, but we are also excited by the opportunities which this change will bring, most notably allowing Playfair to fully concentrate on what it does best; investing in startups.”

It will be a major advantage for the Eastern African region and Africa in general that a Europe-based VC fund will bring its full operations to the continent. Kenya will be the HQ for Playfair Capital and it will be interesting to see what the fund will be investing.

The company already has some stake in Andela, a company that trains programmers for placement with tech giants. Andela is already in Lagos and Nairobi. Last two weeks, Andela received about USD24 million investment from Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (his wife).

Africa is home to two major companies investing heavily in technology- Naspers and Africa Internet Group. It is unclear how much the fund will be investing in Africa. Artificial intelligence has not gotten the attention of tech investors in Africa, PlayFair might be blazing the trail. The company might however invest in what works in the market.

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