There’s the long view and then there’s this fund’s 300-year-plan

A man walks past a logo of SoftBank at a department store in Tokyo
Image: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a grand 10-year plan last year for his social networking giant. But another business leader is swooping in with something far greater: a 300-year plan. 

His name is Masayoshi Son, and he’s the man behind a $100 billion venture fund that has been singularly changing the tech industry—and there’s reports he’s raising a second venture capital fund.

Son is the founder and CEO of Japan’s SoftBank, a gigantic conglomerate with ownership of companies in just about every industry with even a tangential relationship to technology. He said last year he wants to be the tech industry’s Warren Buffett and form “partnerships with the most superior companies,” according to the company’s vision.

While Son may not be a household name in the United States yet, his investment fund has been investing loads of money into America’s flashiest startups such as Slack, WeWork, and soon-to-come Uber. These investments are a part of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund. The Japanese conglomerate is reportedly raising a second and potentially larger fund, according to Recode.

It’s unclear who is investing in the second fund and what it will be supporting. The Vision Fund is backed by Saudi Arabia and looks to invest in “businesses and foundational platforms,” according to its mission statement

So far, SoftBank has made quite the impression on Silicon Valley and to President Donald Trump. 

SoftBank’s investments have been large and directed to some of the most buzzy startups in the U.S. 

“It’s one thing to be a unicorn, it’s another thing to be backed by a firm with the global footprint and wherewithal of SoftBank,” Doug Mack, CEO of Fanatics, told CNN this month. 

This year, the Vision Fund made several flashy investments, supporting real estate giant WeWork, chip maker Nvidia, online messaging giant Slack, and sports e-commerce company Fanatics, among others, as listed by Crunchbase:

  • Didi Chuxing — $5.5 billion

  • WeWork — $4.4 billion

  • Nvidia — $4 billion

  • Grab — $2 billion

  • Flipkart — $1.5 billion

  • One97Communications — $1.4 billion

  • Ola — $1.1 billion

  • Roivant Season — $1.1 billion

  • Fanatics — $1 billion

  • Improbable — $502 million

  • SoFi — $500 million

  • Guardant Health — $360 million

  • Slack — $250 million

  • OYO — $250 million

  • Kabbage — $250 million 

  • Plenty — $200 million

  • Mapbox — $164 million

  • Nauto — $159 million

  • Brain Corporation — $114 million

  • Cybereason — $100 million

  • 99 — $100 million

  • Petuum — $93 million

  • Appier — $33 million

  • Talkspace — $31 million

  • Radish — $3 million

  • Viro Media — $2.5 million

Uber is also expected to close a new $10 billion funding round led by SoftBank in the coming weeks. 

According to a recent profile in the New York Times, Son wants to “own pieces of all the companies that may underpin the global shifts brought on by artificial intelligence to transportation, food, work, medicine and finance.”

SoftBank is still raising for the Vision Fund. It has secured $93 billion out of the planned $100 billion. So, it’s unclear how soon the second fund would be unveiled. 

For now, SoftBank is shaking up traditional venture capital in Silicon Valley. Its grand offerings are making it quite difficult for other firms to compete. 

As Eugene Izhikevich, CEO of Brain Corp, told the Times, “Only people close to [Son] know how huge his vision is.”

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Tags: big-tech-companies business investing silicon-valley softbank uber venture-capital venture-capitalists

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