Apple confirmed on Wednesday (Jan. 4) that it will invest $1 billion in SoftBank’s new $100 billion technology fund.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Apple spokesman Kristin Huguet said: “We believe their new fund will speed the development of technologies which may be strategically important to Apple.” The spokeswoman noted that Apple has worked with Japan’s SoftBank for years.
The SoftBank fund, which was created with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, was announced in October but came back into the spotlight after SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son met with President-Elect Donald Trump and pledged to invest $50 billion of the fund in the U.S. and create jobs. WSJ noted in an earlier report the fund has already landed $100 billion in commitments and will formally roll out in the next few weeks. According to WSJ, others that have considered investing in the fund or who have committed to investing include the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi, the Qatar Investment Authority and Qualcomm, the mobile semiconductor market. The fund is targeting investments in advanced technologies.
For Apple, the move signals a departure from the previous ways it has invested. In 2016, Apple invested $1 billion in ridesharing company Didi Chuxing, which competes against Uber Technologies. Back then, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook called the Didi investment “unusual” in that Apple typically buys companies and technology instead of investing in them. He did say Apple would make more investments, but that it won’t be in a lot of companies. The paper noted that, by joining the fund, Apple could be ensuring its devices are compatible with Internet of Things devices and to find new technologies to integrate into its devices.
“Apple doesn’t want to sell a lot of the end nodes in the Internet of Things, but it does need to defend its core, smartphone business,” said Roger Kay, a market analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, in the report.