Jul 26, 2019

SoftBank says it's raised $108 billion for Vision Fund 2

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

SoftBank Group on Thursday announced that it has secured $108 billion for its second Vision Fund, a late-stage venture capital vehicle whose original $100 billion edition turned Silicon Valley upside down. The final size is expected to be even larger.

What to watch: SoftBank listed around a dozen groups that had signed memoranda of understanding to invest, including Apple and Microsoft. There is no mention of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, which was the largest Fund 1 contributor with a $45 billion slug, although that doesn't necessarily mean it's not involved.

The original Vision Fund, raised in 2017, invested in such companies as Uber, DoorDash, GM Cruise and WeWork.

  • SoftBank itself plans to commit $38 billion, up from $28 billion the first time around.
  • Other return backers include Apple and Foxconn.
  • In addition to Saudi, other missing Fund 1 limited partners include Qualcomm, Sharp and a sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates.
  • New investors include Microsoft, Standard Chartered, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, MUFG Bank, Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., SMBC Nikko Securities, Daiwa Securities Group and Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund.

Microsoft could be a particularly intriguing addition, based on a WSJ report indicating SoftBank plans to encourage its "roughly 75 companies to shift from Amazon's cloud platform to Microsoft’s."

  • No word on how it would convince existing portfolio companies to make such a fundamental switch, although it certainly could have quid pro quo leverage over future investment targets.

The bottom line: Silicon Valley grumbled through the first Vision Fund, arguing that it overcapitalized companies and persuaded certain founders to chase market share without regard for underlying fundamentals. Expect those complaints to get even louder.

Go deeper

The technology of witnessing brutality

Charging Alabama state troopers pass by fallen demonstrators in Selma on March 7, 1965. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

The ways Americans capture and share records of racist violence and police misconduct keep changing, but the pain of the underlying injustices they chronicle remains a stubborn constant.

Driving the news: After George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked wide protests, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said, “Thank God a young person had a camera to video it."

41 mins ago - Health

Lessons from the lockdown — and what comes next

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We are nowhere near finished with the coronavirus, but the next phases of our response will — if we do it right — be more targeted and risk-based than the sweeping national lockdown we’re now emerging from.

Why it matters: Our experience battling this new virus has taught us a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’ll have to apply those lessons rigorously, and keep adapting, if we have any hope of containing the virus and limiting the number of deaths from here on out.

Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: Unrest continues for 6th night across U.S.

A protest near the White House on Sunday night. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Most external lights at the White House were turned off late Sunday as the D.C. National Guard was deployed and authorities fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters nearby, per the New York Times.

What's happening: It's one of several tense, late-night standoffs between law enforcement and demonstrators in the United States over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people.