SoftBank, the Japanese telecommunications giant, is looking to raise a $100 billion venture fund as it looks to inject millions, or in some cases billions, into tech startups, in order to find "the next big thing," reports Recode.
This would be on top of SoftBank's $93 billion Vision Fund, which is disrupting Silicon Valley as other investors are awed by the enormous amount of money SoftBank has to play with. It's already acquired stakes in Slack and WeWork, two darlings of the current Silicon Valley scene. With WeWork, it has invested $4.4 billion, $500 million of which will go towards an Asian expansion. In addition, WeWork Japan has been created as a separate entity, co-owned equally by WeWork and SoftBank. (See WeWork Invests $500M In Asian Expansion.)
Recode reports that a source with knowledge of the new $100 billion fund calls it "conceptual, but serious." Already involved in the Vision Fund are the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia wealth or public investment funds, both of which are looking to make some cash on the side by investing indirectly into US tech startups through SoftBank. Also included are US tech giants such as Apple and Qualcomm, as well as Sharp, the Japanese technology company, and Foxconn, the Taiwanese contract manufacturing company.
Keep in mind the Vision Fund, which SoftBank says will lead to "SoftBank 2.0," has not actually closed. The original aim was $100 billion to invest, but so far, only $93 billion of that has been raised, with $7 billion remaining. This seemingly extra $100 billion would put the eventual SoftBank fund at $190 to $200 billion.
SoftBank is also acquiring companies at an increasing rate. In 2016, it purchased ARM Holdings, whose chip architectures power the vast majority of the smartphones in today's world, for $31 billion (the largest UK tech exit ever). Earlier this year, it acquired Boston Dynamics from Alphabet for an undisclosed amount. (See SoftBank Acquires Robotics Firm Boston Dynamics From Alphabet.)
It's important to note that some of SoftBank's other investments -- such as the $500 million it put into British VR company Improbable in May -- are not technically under the Vision Fund. That said, there is nothing stopping SoftBank from transferring this investment to the Vision Fund. Looking into the future, the Japanese giant is considering investing an enormous amount, potentially up to $10 billion, into Uber; media giant Arianna Huffington, an Uber board member, said the deal could close "by the end of next week." (See British VR Startup Improbable Raises $500M, Valued at $1B.)
It's clear Softbank is looking for multiple companies that will power future technology and won't stop until its fund is exhausted... which, based on the amount it already has and the amount it wants, will probably be a while.