US investors interested in AI-focused New Zealand software firms

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Photo: Unsplash / Sigmond

American venture capitalists remain interested in New Zealand Software as a Service firms, especially ones that have the ability to harness artificial intelligence being seen as key to attracting money.

Experienced venture capitalist Lovina McMurchy, who has worked at major tech platforms, including Amazon Alexa and Skype, said the Covid pandemic led to investors taking a “borderless” approach to investing due to more time being spent online.

McMurchy is the chief commercial officer at Wellington Software as a Service (SaaS) start-up Kry10, but based in Seattle in the United States.

She said the trend of overseas investment by US venture capitalists was continuing, meaning New Zealand firms remained attractive to US investors.

But only a particular type of SaaS company would likely draw investment – ones that could make the most of artificial intelligence (AI), McMurchy said.

“[Companies need to be] aware of AI, because as AI rolls through technology and through software, potentially, it’s going to take some companies that were successful in the past and some business models that were successful, and make them less relevant.

“An investor is going to be thinking, ‘boy, can this survive the application of a large language model against it, or something like this?’.”

She said businesses led by AI could also attract significant interest.

McMurchy encouraged New Zealand firms to be open to outsiders, saying many local firms were “surprisingly” closed off to taking advice from overseas experts, or even hiring people with offshore experience.

“I think what’s really important is when you’re at that early phase of crafting your business idea… you really kind of look around globally at what else is out there.”