Case Study: The Rise of the Sovereign Venture Fund

May 03, 2017 by Jess Delaney

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In a rare embrace of modernity for deeply conservative Saudi Arabia — which faced violent clashes after the introduction of television 50 years ago and still doesn’t allow women to drive — Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed last summer that the kingdom’s future will be digital. Prince Mohammed, the brash young face of the House of Saud and chair of the country’s Council of Economic and Development Affairs, boarded a private jet to California in June to mingle with Silicon Valley whiz kids and the venture capital gods who can make or break them. Swapping his traditional thobe for a pair of blue jeans and a blazer, the grinning 31-year-old posed with Mark Zuckerberg for a photo shoot at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. Just a few weeks earlier, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund had broken the record for the all-time biggest single investment in a…

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