The world we live in is always in need of innovation. Be it from domestic help to data analysis. For all of this one thing is unavoidable - investment. With an aim of investing in transformative technologies, The Japanese company SoftBank has initiated a $100 venture capital fund called the visions fund.
The Vision Fund was a materialisation of a talk between Masayoshi Son, Chairman of SoftBank and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammed Bin Salman. As the name suggests, the Vision Fund envisions a long-term growth of companies for the benefit of humanity.
Being the biggest venture capital fund in the world, their plans for investment are almost equal to the global venture capital investment of the world. Most of their companies are in the transportation and logistics sector followed by consumer services and frontier technologies. Here is a glimpse of a few startups that are funded by SoftBank’s Vision Fund
The banking startup is the latest unicorn now. In May 2021, it raised $250 million in a series C funding of Vision Fund. This has raised the value of the firm to $1.45 billion. It was founded by Bhavin Turakhia and Ramki Gaddipati in 2015. Zeta provides a modern and cloud native platform to improve the cost to income ratio and consumer experience.
With a mission to “Inspire creativity and enrich life”, ByteDance is a startup that is spread over 150 markets with offices in 126 cities. They offer high quality Global Creation and Interaction Platforms as and while ensuring that the digital life of billions of its users are made beautiful. It was found in 2012 in a four bedroom apartment. In 2019, SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested in ByteDance and its corporate value quadrupled soon after.
Making in-store execution easier, Trax has been very useful to both retailers and customers. They say that through them the best of digital technologies comes together in the physical reality for the best experience of the users. In 2021, it secured $640 million funding lead by SoftBank Vision Fund. Trax will continue to optimise its retail stores through creating awareness about changing store condition and improving purchasing intent.
Founded in 2010, It aims to be the largest retailer in child and mother care products in the world. In 2018, SoftBank Vision Fund bought a 40% stake at a rate of $400 million which makes them the biggest investor in the company. It also valued Firstcry at $1.1 billion at that time. Today, they have a customer base of over 20 million families. Under the leadership of Supam Maheshwari, they continue to conquer greater heights in the business realm.
It is a startup that revolutionised the untapped market of opticals. It is indeed a magical unicorn of India and there is no surprise in Vision Fund investing in Lenskart. Beginning from contact lenses, today it has a range of prescription glasses and sunglasses as well. It was launched in 2010. It fared really well in business and was aided by SoftBank Vision Fund in the year 2019. They invested a total of $275 million after which it was valued at $1.5 billion. In 2020, Lenskart generated a revenue of 1000 crore.
The top rated reselling app of India was found by two IIT Delhi graduates Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal. They have transcended beyond earning profits for themselves alone by helping small businesses and individuals to set up their own online stores.
In the latest funding round of Vision Fund (2021), it invested $300 million which raised its value to an enviable $2.1 billion. Earlier, when it was valued at $700 million, they had received a funding of $125 million in 2019. The latest funding is three times greater than last time. It was the fourth deal in the second Vision Fund in India.
The most popular hospitality firm that upturned the ways of hotel booking raised $807 million along with RA Holdings. In this SVF has picked up 9626 holdings of Series F CCPS for $506 million. This will make SVF entitled to 50.5% stake in the firm. Oyo has always surprised us by expanding to countries like wildfire. It is expected that this fund will be used to increase the efficiency of the company by delivering the best services.
Flipkart is a very familiar name in the e-commerce industry for the past few years. Its growth has been tremendous and inspiring. Softbank Vision Fund had invested a sum of $2.5 billion in 2017. Now, Flipkart is completing its merger with Walmart and SoftBank has only sold 20% of its stake during the process and thereby continues to stay invested. Softbank is now again trying to invest in Flipkart.
It is a Bangalore based Education technology firm which was founded in 2015. It began its journey as a YouTube channel in 2010 and its growth over the decade is commendable. Unacademy received a sum of $150 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund in 2020. This will take the committed firm’s overall value to $1.4 billion. This is a triple gain as far as the firm is concerned in a span of 6 months. They will be using the fund to launch new products and expand the organisation.
The UK based bank for small and medium sized companies was founded in 2013. It gained regulatory approval in 2015. The firm was founded by Rishi Khosla and Joel Perlman. In February 2019, SoftBank invested $440 million in OakNorth and its value skyrocketed to $2.8 billion. Many times, it lends more than $5 billion which is higher than its counterparts. However, they recover more than 90% of that money. Today, it is one of the highly valued startups in Europe.
Founded in 2013, Grofers is a grocery delivery service in India. It allows you to order a large variety of products through their online supermarket. Their potential did not skip the eyes of SoftBank either. In 2020, they invested $55 million in this firm to help them further improve their efficiency and services. The bank’s trust in the business can be further reiterated by the fact that they hold 46% of the total holdings.
Since its launch in 2009, Paytm has transformed the money paying etiquette of people in India and many other e-commerce payment platforms followed suit. In 2019, it was founded by Vijay Shekhar Varma. Paytm raised $1 billion from Vision Fund along with Ant Financial Services. The new fund will be used to ramp up the expansion of the firm into rural India. They aim to popularise payments in rural India online.
It is a health tech company that makes use of machine learning and AI to improve services in the health sector. It was founded by Kuldeep Singh Rajput with a team of committed members backing him. Together they have been successful in improving outcomes of major healthcare providers. In 2020, they raised $100 million through the Series C of Vision Fund. This was indeed a booster shot for them. They are now on their path to develop better portfolios which are inclusive of digital therapeutics for pain and cancer.
Klarna Bank AB or Klarna, as it is commonly termed, is a Swedish fintech company that is mainly associated with online financial services to support payments for online storefronts, direct payments, and post-purchase payments. The company is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden and boasts of more than 3,000 employees, most of whom work from the headquarters.
With the latest investment round, Klarna announces an equity funding of $638 million. This equity funding has been led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, which was then followed by additional participation primarily from Adit Ventures, Honeycomb Asset Management, and WestCap Group. The latest round of funding raised the valuation of Klarna to $45.6 billion. This recent funding round is aimed to support the international expansion of the company and further capture global retail growth.
Eightfold AI, as the name indicates, is a Talent Intelligence platform powered by Artificial Intelligence. Eightfold AI announced on Thursday, June 10, 2021, that the company has been successful in raising a fund close to $220 million in the Series E funding round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.
The company has been successful in raising more than $410 million to date, with around $350 million coming in the past six months. According to Eightfold AI's Founder and CEO, Ashutosh Garg, the company will continue to use the funds to widen its operations in India, with investments focused on the most talented data scientists and engineers across the country. This way Eightfold AI would ensure that its funds are used for fast and effective growth and development of its talent intelligence platform and further expanding its growing partner ecosystem.
Whatfix is a SaaS-based company, which primarily focuses on providing in-app guidance and support for software products and web applications. In the Series D funding round of the company, Whatfix announced that it has raised $90 million. This recent round of funding was led by Softbank's Vision Fund 2, followed by other participations including that of Eight Roads Ventures, Sequoia Capital India, Dragoneer Investment Group, F-Prime Capital, and Cisco Investments.
Whatfix claims to have tripled its investments after the completion of this recent round of funding, according to TOI. The firm has reportedly raised around $139.8 million in the last segment alone and with that in, the company is presently valued at $600 million.
With the latest round of funding, Whatfix aims to strengthen its position in the US and look for further expansion in Europe and the Asia Pacific. It also strives to focus more on product innovation to provide personalized user experiences with effective use of Artificial Intelligence.
Here are a few other startups in which SoftBank’s Vision Fund have invested in
There was a lot of criticism with regard to the functionalities of Vision Fund. Many opinionated that the mode of its functioning was hitherto unseen. The loss it faced in the last year further sharpened the criticisms against it. However, it was able to come back with a bang and give a sharper reply to the critics through its economic performance.
The performance of the companies in which it invested is a testimony to the win of SoftBank as well. The Japanese multinational company has significantly helped a plethora of startups to ace in their business through the Vision Fund.
By extending help to startups, it also didn’t fall back in emerging as the biggest profit earning company in the history of Japanese companies. After a year of unprecedented loss it has emerged as one of the world’s biggest earning firms in the world. SoftBank and its Vision Fund will always remain as a ray of hope for all startups.
Who owns SoftBank?
SoftBank's founder and CEO is Masayoshi Son who is the third-richest person in Japan, with a $20.6 billion personal fortune. He owns $45 million worth of real estate in Tokyo as well as a $117.5 million estate in Silicon Valley.
What is SoftBank Vision Fund?
Softbank Vision Fund is the world's biggest innovation-centered investment finance, with over $100 billion in the capital.
How does SoftBank earns?
SoftBank owns stakes in many technology, energy, and financial companies. It also runs Vision Fund, the world's largest technology-focused venture capital fund.