SoftBank putting together a mammoth tech investment fund
Japan's SoftBank Group announced setting-up of a fund to invest as much as $100 billion in technology focused ventures, over the next five years. SoftBank, in partnership with Saudi Arabia's public investment fund, will identify companies that have immense potential to be influential in the future. SoftBank's CEO, Masayoshi Son has proclaimed that he aims to be the "biggest investor" in technology.
SoftBank Group Corp. (SoftBank) is a Japanese multinational telecommunications and Internet corporation. The Tokyo-headquartered company was incorporated in 1981. Last year, SoftBank was ranked as the 62nd largest public company in the world. The company provides mobile communication services, fixed-line telecommunications, Internet services and sells mobile devices. Over the last several months, SoftBank has been in the news for its paradigm shift in strategy.
SoftBank's CEO, Masayoshi Son
Masayoshi Son, founder and current CEO of Japan's technology giant had announced his decision to retire upon turning 60; he had also groomed his successor, Nikesh Arora, to take over. However, rather abruptly in June 2016, he reneged on the agreement to handover SoftBank's reigns and conceded to SoftBank's investors that he was in fact keen to stay for at least 5-10 more years.
Masayoshi Son's plea to remain CEO
Masayoshi Son pleaded with SoftBank's investors and said, "But I've become greedy again and I want to continue as chief executive for a bit longer. I've come to a realization once again that I'm young. Please let me lead a bit longer."
SoftBank's strategy pivot post Son's decision
Weeks after his decision, Son steered SoftBank towards the Internet-of-Things (IoT) sector by announcing a JV with Japanese IoT service provider Aeris. Aeris would expand in Japan and globally to provide IoT and telematic services with SoftBank's assistance. Shortly thereafter, it acquired UK-based ARM Holdings, the dominant player in the processor market for $31 billion. It was the largest acquisition for a European tech-company.
Masayoshi Son's statement on 'SoftBank Vision Fund'
"Over the next decade, the SoftBank Vision Fund will be the biggest investor in the technology sector. We will further accelerate the information revolution by contributing to its development."
The Softbank Vision Fund
The fund to be launched by SoftBank is tentatively named the 'SoftBank Vision Fund'. According to a statement by SoftBank, the Saudi Government could become the lead investment-partner in the fund and may invest upto $45 billion over the next five years. Tokyo-headquartered, SoftBank may contribute to the tune of $25 billion and other global investors could contribute to the fund as well.
Indian-origin banker to head SoftBank's tech fund
SoftBank's gigantic technology fund will be led by an Indian-born banker, Rajeev Misra, who currently heads SoftBank's strategic finance division. He joined SoftBank in 2014 and was previously the Global Head, credit and emerging markets at Deutsche Bank.