Seed Capital

Has Apple inc dropped its first seed into fund management? This is what The Lens has been ruminating about since the tech firm’s recent launch of an investment fund was brought to our attention at an ESG roundtable.

To be sure, the China Clean Energy Fund is not openly distributed to third-party investors, but it does more than just manage Apple’s cash stock pile. There are ten external investors, not institutions but clean energy suppliers, who along with Apple will invest $300 billion dollars in Chinese sources of clean energy.

Apple describes the vehicle as a “first of its kind”.

Asset managers have been anticipating disruption from a tech giant ever since China’s e-commerce platform Alibaba launched Yu’e Bao, a money market fund that invests customers’ surplus cash. Last year Yu’e Bao became the world largest product of its kind.

Regulation is said to hinder tech firms from pulling off anything similar in Europe.

Maybe, but The Lens cannot help notice the variety of zeitgeisty marketing themes surrounding this vehicle (clean energy, climate change, China, tech). All of them would appeal to millennials and trustees alike.

There’s one more marketing theme to add: Apple itself. The brand. As Martin Gilbert, the co-chief of Standard Life Aberdeen, recently told our colleagues at Funds Europe magazine: ““I think of all the brands, Apple is the one we most fear coming into asset management…”

He doesn’t think Apple will, again due to the complexity of regulation, but The Lens advises watching how this seed grows.