The SoftBank Vision Fund inched closer to its $100 billion target thanks to billions of dollars in tech investments around the world.
According to reports, in 2018 the SoftBank Vision Fund made investments in more than twenty deals to the tune of $21 billion. Meanwhile, according to SoftBank’s annual Form D disclosure that it is required to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it raised about $98.58 billion from 14 investors since it launched the fund on May 20, 2017. In its 2017 filing, SoftBank said the fund raised $93.15 billion from eight investors. That means this year it raised $5.43 billion and brought on six new investors, noted the report.
Given the size of the fund, one of the main challenges that the Vision Fund faces is bringing on new capital. It is limited in its choices of investment partners, and as a result, takes on government-backed investors. That can get complicated — as is the case with the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which has committed $45 billion to the Vision Fund and is its largest backer. With the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tied to the murder, dismemberment, and disposal of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, SoftBank is entangled in the situation. Reports noted that in November SoftBank said it would wait until the outcome of the investigation before deciding on the Vision Fund. Over the past weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Central Intelligence Agency intercepted 11 messages between bin Salman and his aide, who is being accused of overseeing the execution. The White House, however, continues to defend Saudi Arabia, noted the report. It’s not clear if the main backers of the fund will change as a result, noted the report. Since its launch, the Vision Fund has made investments in roughly 300 companies, including in the artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) markets.