Bharti Airtel Innovation Fund is Shutting Down

A heartbreaking news for mobile (app) developers, but we have learnt from confirmed sources that Bharti Airtel Innovation Fund (BAIF), which was launched around two years back is now shutting the shop.

From what we have learnt, the team has already been dismantled and moved to other business units (few were let go) and the nail has been laid down in the coffin (the decision to shut down the fund was made almost 2-3 months back).

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BAIF - Up in the Air?

The Rs. 200 Crores fund was supposed to do early stage investments (initial investments of Rs. 5 Crores to Rs. 20 Crores) with focus on areas like Content, VAS, Infrastructure and Energy Savings Solutions. But if you look at the fund story, there has been no single investment so far.

The obvious question – Why? What happened?

In a market where mobile is becoming the most important screen (much more important than PC) and brings huge opportunities post 3G launch, shutting down of a corporate fund is surely not a pleasant news. I believe this is an example of corporate fund failure (especially when decision rests with somebody of the rank of CEO) than a statement on India mobile opportunity.

And while we are talking about the failure of innovation fund, Airtel continues to innovate and even launched its App store, which could have been a great avenue for Airtel to invest small chunks of money to promising app developers.

Question to Ponder – Maybe this is a case of deep pocketed fund running after small players who instead needed a much smaller fund, instead of a minimum of Rs. 5 Crores?

Will Singtel launch its fund in India (in partnership with Airtel)?

Recommended Read : Tourist VCs, Go Home.

An interesting read : Outlook for Indian Corporate Venture Fund.

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