In 2017, Japanese telecom giant SoftBank shook the American startup scene to the core almost overnight after its venture capital arm, the Vision Fund, pumped nearly $100 billion into a slew of Silicon Valley tech unicorns, including Uber, WeWork and Slack, among others.
SoftBank’s Vision Fund set the record for the largest venture capital fund ever raised. And for a while after that, it looked as if there would never be a VC fund to top it. Even SoftBank itself, which had the ambition to raise a second $100 billion Vision Fund, admitted recently that it was a tough market out there for fundraisers.
And yet, on Friday morning, the Japanese investment powerhouse surprisingly announced that it had secured as much as $108 billion for the Vision Fund 2. The final size could be even larger, as SoftBank carries out fundraising talks with additional investors.
The Vision Fund 2 has a notably different investor base than its original version. In a press release, SoftBank listed a roster of new investors, including Microsoft, Apple and its iPhone and iPad assembler, Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, along with several Japanese banks and investment firms. SoftBank Group itself will commit $38 billion to the fund, making it a limited partner as well as the parent entity of the fund’s manager.
Also worth noting in the second Vision Fund’s investor lineup was the absence of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which contributed $45 billion to the first Vision Fund. Instead, SoftBank listed the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan as a new investor.
Goldman Sachs, while not included in SoftBank’s announcement, is reportedly near a deal to commit to the Vision Fund 2, per The Wall Street Journal.
SoftBank said the new mega-fund will focus on backing late-stage artificial intelligence companies, riding a high wave of venture capital investing in this cutting-edge field. For comparison, the first Vision Fund targeted a much broader company base, from consumer household products to “shared economy” platforms to software and IT services.
Here is every investor SoftBank has secured for the Vision Fund 2 so far:
- SoftBank Group Corp.
- Foxconn Technology Group
- Mizuho Bank
- Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company
- Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank
- SMBC Nikko Securities
- Daiwa Securities Group
- National Investment Corporation of National Bank of Kazakhstan
- Standard Chartered Bank