Back in October, Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., announced the creation of the SoftBank Vision Fund, a UK-based technology fund, with a $45 billion capital commitment form the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The initial press release for the Vision Fund announced the company expected to invest at least $25 billion over the next 5 years and said that overall funding could reach $100 billion.
Since Donald Trump won the US presidential election in November, Mr. Son has been actively courting the president-elect, by vowing to invest as much as $50bn in American start-ups...something the pair happily announced in the lobby of Trump tower back in December.
Masa (SoftBank) of Japan has agreed to invest $50 billion in the U.S. toward businesses and 50,000 new jobs....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
Now, just two and a half months after launch, SoftBank has already exceeded their $100 billion fundraising goal with fresh capital commitments from Apple, Oracle, Qualcomm and Foxconn. Meanwhile, the record-breaking fund is likely to get even larger as Abu Dhabi and other large corporates have expressed interest. Per the Financial Times:
Apple confirmed it is planning to invest $1bn in Softbank’s vision fund. “We’ve worked closely with SoftBank for many years and we believe their new fund will speed the development of technologies which may be strategically important to Apple,” a spokesman said.
Oracle founder Larry Ellison will join Apple, Qualcomm and Foxconn in backing SoftBank’s record-setting technology fund, allowing the Japanese telecoms group to hit its $100bn goal weeks ahead of schedule.
Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund is also in talks to invest in SoftBank’s Vision Fund, according to people briefed about the negotiations. These people added that the fund will remain open to additional investment until the end of January as demand from both large companies and sovereign funds remained strong.
Meanwhile, Softbank recently invested $1BN in a U.S. satellite start-up call OneWeb and indicated the investment was the type of deal it planned to do more of going forward.
The main focus of the fund will be cutting edge tech companies focusing on artificial intelligence and robotics as well as the “internet of things”, said two people informed about the investment strategy.
Late last month, SoftBank invested $1bn in OneWeb, a US satellite start-up, and cited is as the kind of investment it planned to carry out through the fund. In July of last year, SoftBank also spent $32bn to acquire Arm, a British company that designs chips used by smartphones and other connected devices.
We can almost see the headlines now as all this "money on the sidelines" is repeatedly cited as the driver of the next leg higher in the U.S. tech sector.