Softbank CEO and Chairman Masayoshi Son. Photo: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

SoftBank is considering an IPO for its $100 billion Vision Fund, which would require some regulatory jujitsu to avoid U.S. regulatory prohibitions on non-accredited investors buying into alternative investment funds.

My thought bubble: I'd guess that SoftBank's lawyers can work their way around the SEC, particularly given that the current rules seem to codify a distinction without a difference.

  • Retail investors can already buy into special purpose acquisition companies, which act like concentrated buyout funds (albeit with slightly more shareholder protections). They also can invest in publicly-traded private equity firms, which are little more than a collection of opaque underlying funds.

Even if SoftBank doesn't figure this out — or simply opts against it — there are others working toward similar ends.

  • Most notable is the rowing cohort of "GP stake" funds, such as Dyal Capital and Goldman Sachs' Petershill.
  • The are funds that buy passive, minority positions in other, privately-held private equity firms. They primarily generate returns via firm cash-flows (i.e., a cut of underlying fund fees), but there isn't yet a way to fully exit.
  • One possibility is that enough of these firms will launch so that a true secondary market emerges, but there also is talk about trying to bring one of these funds public. Almost a quasi-ETF of private equity funds, like how SoftBank Vision would create a quasi-ETF of tech unicorns.

The bottom line: Private equity remains constrained by its present inability to tap retail investors and defined contribution plans. It has no interest in settling for that status quo.

Go deeper: Big-name private equity firms are asking for bigger cuts of investment profits

Go deeper

Judge orders Eric Trump to testify in New York probe before election

Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

A judge on Wednesday ordered Eric Trump to comply with a subpoena to testify in a New York probe into his family business before the presidential election.

The state of play: New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) last month said her office had filed a lawsuit to compel the Trump Organization to comply with subpoenas related to an investigation into whether President Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of its assets on financial statements.

58 mins ago - Podcasts

Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus on the rise of Silicon Valley SPACs

Silicon Valley venture capitalists are no longer content with investing in startups and then eventually handing them off. Instead, many are now forming SPACs, or blank-check acquisition companies, to ride tech unicorns into the public markets themselves.

Axios Re:Cap digs into this trend with the co-founders of a new tech SPAC called Reinvent Technology Partners: Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and partner at Greylock, and Mark Pincus, the founder and former CEO of Zynga.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 31,717,955 — Total deaths: 973,014 Total recoveries: 21,795,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 6,913,046 — Total deaths: 201,319 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: CDC director says over 90% of Americans have not yet been exposed to coronavirus — Supply shortages continue to plague testing.
  4. Politics: Fauci clashes with Rand Paul at COVID hearing: "You're not listening" — FDA chief vows agency will not accept political pressure on coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson begins large phase 3 trial — The FDA plans to toughen standards.
  6. Sports: Less travel is causing the NBA to see better basketball.

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