SoftBank’s huge $100 billion investment fund — the largest tech fund in history — announced its first close today… and it’s huge.
The Japanese telecom giant revealed that its VisionFund has closed an initial commitment of $93 billion from a bevy of high profile backers. They include Apple, Qualcomm, UAE-based Mubadala Investment Company, Saudi Arabia’s PID public fund, Foxconn, and Foxconn-owned Sharp. The plan is for the fund to reach its $100 billion target within the next six months through commitments from other investors.
The fund is committing to a minimum of $100 million deal checks, with a focus on both minority and majority deals with companies that are either private or public.
That leaves plenty of scope to play in, but some color can be found in a statement from Son explaining that the fund aims to develop the next phase of the internet and connectivity worldwide:
Technology has the potential to address the biggest challenges and risks facing humanity today. The businesses working to solve these problems will require patient long-term capital and visionary strategic investment partners with the resources to nurture their success,” Son said in a statement.
SoftBank has long made bold investments in transformative technologies and supported disruptive entrepreneurs. The SoftBank Vision Fund is consistent with this strategy and will help build and grow businesses creating the foundational platforms of the next stage of the Information Revolution.
In terms of specific areas, SoftBank said its areas of focus include internet-of-things, AI, robotics, infrastructure, telecoms, bio tech, fintech, mobile apps and more.
Given the credentials of the companies backing it and its sheer size, the Vision Fund is unprecedented in tech venture capital and it’ll be truly interesting to watch how it is deployed.
Well, we can already pick up some clues. The fund has been active, even before this first close. Recent deals include Indian fintech unicorn Paytm, virtual reality Improbable Worlds, China’s Uber killer Didi Chuxing, and global connectivity company OneWeb. Beyond that, there’s been a steady flow of unconfirmed investments linking the fund to companies like WeWork. The party is just getting started.
The announcement of the fund was coordinated alongside U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the Middle East, where two of the Vision Fund’s key backers are located. That builds on earlier ties with the White House. Back in December, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son met with Trump and pledged to invest $50 billion into the U.S. with the goal of creating 50,000 new jobs.