In an effort to create a relationship between its portfolio of investors, SoftBank has created an “operating group” within its Vision Fund.
The group’s head, Gerry Lopez, told the Financial Times that the team of executives has doubled in size since it was formed late last year, and now stands at 30 employees. It is expected to reach 70 by the end of the year. The team will use its experience to help the startups receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from Vision Fund.
“What we try to bring [to all of the Vision Fund’s investments] is the perspective of someone who has operated across that industry on various different levels,” Lopez said.
Last month it was revealed that SoftBank is set to launch a second investment vehicle based on the Vision Fund. The new fund, like the previous one, is meant to spark investment in cutting-edge technology companies around the globe. It’s being backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and possibly Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala Investment.
For both funds, the operating team is tasked with advising startups on growth strategies, hiring, procurement and international expansion.
“We will be expanding internationally years earlier than we would have had we not partnered with [Mr Son],” said Matt Barnard, chief executive of San Francisco-based indoor farming company Plenty, which raised $200 million from the Vision Fund in 2017. “When you already have exceptional people who know how to execute, who are on your side and part of your family, it mitigates some of the risks of entering new markets.”
In addition, the operating team will help prepare Vision Fund companies for an initial public offering. Uber, SoftBank’s biggest single investment, as well as software provider Slack, have already gone public. Another SoftBank-backed company, WeWork, is expected to go public with its IPO filings soon.