In a bid to accelerate the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technology, Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group on Friday announced the launch of its second Vision Fund with participation from global technology giants like Apple, Microsoft and Foxconn, among others. The new private investment fund’s capital has already reached about USD 108 billion and SoftBank Group’s own investment in the fund will stand at around USD 38 billion, the company said in a statement.
“The objective of the fund is to facilitate the continued acceleration of the AI revolution through investment in market-leading, tech-enabled growth companies,’’ it said. The total expected contribution of capital to the technology megafund has reached nearly USD 108 billion. Other institutions who are expected to participate in the fund are Mizuho Bank Ltd, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MUFG Bank Ltd., Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company Limited, Daiwa Securities Group Inc., National Investment Corporation of National Bank of Kazakhstan, Standard Chartered Bank, and several other major participants from countries like Taiwan.
“The new fund is expected to decrease SoftBank’s reliance on Saudi Arabian investment and also potentially change the relationship between startups, corporate giants like Microsoft and investors,” IT industry tracker TechCrunch reported. In its first USD 97 billion Vision Fund announced in early 2017, the Japanese venture capital and private equity giant had invested in companies including Indian unicorns like Paytm and Oyo Rooms, and international firms like ride-hailing platforms Didi Chuxing and Grab and grocery delivery start-up Grofers, among others.
The maiden fund has earned 62 per cent returns to date, SoftBank said last month. According to Masayoshi Son, SoftBank chief executive, the new fund will benefit from the rising amount of real-world data gathered by sensors, cameras and other machines. It has recently generated fund through of around USD 4 billion in loans against stakes in Slack, Uber and Guardant Health.