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AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

I spent the past few days meeting with Bay Area tech execs and investors, and there was one thing they all wanted to discuss: SoftBank.

Context: Japan's SoftBank Group has quickly become the Daddy Warbucks of Silicon Valley, investing huge sums into tech companies at dizzying valuations. Much of this is through the firm's new Vision Fund, which so far has closed on around $93 billion of its $100 billion target, although plenty of other deals have come off of SoftBank's regular balance sheet (including the recent financing for Southeast Asia ride-hail company Grab). SoftBank also is a White House favorite, with founder and CEO Masayoshi Son having done the Trump Tower shake-and-snap prior to inauguration day.

Cash flow: SoftBank is providing an enormous amount of interim liquidity to venture capital funds, often stapling secondaries to its primary transactions. Some of this is a bit strong-armed – SoftBank often insists on the secondary sales, unlike past DST Group models which usually were structured more as voluntary offers with a dollar cap – but VCs remain grateful for the opportunity, particularly as LPs are begging for cash in the relative absence of tech IPOs.

Reward and risk: SoftBank is often partial to shock-and-awe financings, giving startups a huge balance sheet in order to panic their rivals. It's basically the playbook Uber followed for years. While this can certainly have its desired effect, there also is some concern that it will weaken startup founder discipline, thus becoming a long-term burden.

Structure: Multiple sources say that Vision Fund includes an 8% hurdle rate, which means it needs to return 8% to limited partners before SoftBank begins collecting carried interest. It remains unclear if the supposed 1% management fee is consistent across the LP roster (i.e., does Saudi get a discount), and if the management fee is on called capital or on committed capital.

The latest: SoftBank is part of a new $500 million funding round for WeWork, aimed at Chinese market expansion. Kia has more.

Go deeper

Mike Pence calls Kamala Harris to offer congratulations and help

Mike Pence. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty

Vice President Mike Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance in the transition, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: The belated conversation came six days before the inauguration after a contentious post-election stretch. President Trump has neither spoken with President-elect Joe Biden, nor explicitly conceded the 2020 election.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

The coronavirus variants: What you need to know

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New variants of the coronavirus circulating globally appear to increase transmission and are being closely monitored by scientists.

Driving the news: The highly contagious variant B.1.1.7 originally detected in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March if no measures are taken to control the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

1 hour ago - World

Abbas announces first Palestinian elections in 15 years

Abbas is 85 and in the 15th year of a 4-year term. Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas published a decree on Friday announcing the dates for parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority.

Why it matters: This is the first time in 15 years that such a decree has been published. The last presidential elections took place in 2005, with Abbas winning, and the last parliamentary elections took place in 2006, with Hamas winning.