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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

SoftBank has earned a tech king-maker reputation, but there's still hope for those competing against its portfolio companies, according to investors at Lowenstein Sandler's VentureCrush event in San Francisco on Thursday.

Why it matters: SoftBank's impact has been a hot topic ever since the Japanese giant announced its $100 billion Vision Fund, especially its policy of injecting hundreds of millions of dollars at once into startups.

  • Lux Capital partner Renata Quintini said not all companies are in winner-take-all markets, so some startups will still have room to thrive.
  • Other investors pointed that SoftBank doesn't always back the market leader—dog-walking startup Wag, for example, was much smaller than rival Rover.

More from the event:

  • High valuations continue to be top of mind. Partech managing partner Réza Malekzadeh says startup valuations in Europe have more than doubled over the past year, while Amplify's Amanda Schutzbank is seeing a similar trend in Los Angeles's early-stage startups.
  • Foreign investments into U.S. startups, especially from China, are considered much more carefully thanks to a more active CFIUS. Particularly in sectors like semiconductors and AI.
  • Big late-stage rounds at flashy valuations aren't as they seem in the press—many are highly structured, said GGV Capital managing partner Jeff Richards. "I wish that was in the press releases," he joked.
  • Despite the boom in private capital, the current concern among investors behind closed doors is that a major disruption of the public markets will have consequences for the private market as well, added Richards, who alluded to dotcom bust.

Go deeper

4 mins ago - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India has now administered 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses, officials announced on Thursday morning, per the Hindustan Times.

Of note: This seems like a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the virus, but Bloomberg notes that only 51% of the population has received one dose and 21% the second.

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.

Beauty giant Coty Cosmetics looking to sell its own branded products

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi. Photo: Axios on HBO

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi tells Axios the beauty giant will “probably” introduce Coty-branded products one day.

Why it matters: Coty produces some of the world’s most popular fragrances, skin care products and color cosmetics on behalf of other well-known brands, but has shied away from producing its own branded products.