SoftBank launches USD 108 billion second fund to invest in AI

Investors include Apple, Microsoft, and Japan’s top three national banks.

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SoftBank is launching a second technology megafund, aptly called SoftBank Vision Fund 2, to invest in artificial intelligence technologies around the world, reports CNBC. 

The multinational conglomerate has secured USD 108 billion from Apple, Microsoft, Standard Chartered Bank, Japan’s top three national banks, Taiwanese investors, and Kazakhstan’s sovereign-wealth fund.

SoftBank has yet to obtain new cash from the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, which were major backers of the first Vision Fund.

Citing unnamed sources from The Wall Street Journal, CNBC reported that both funds indicated interest to invest in SoftBank Vision Fund 2. However, Saudi Arabia is likely to commit less than the USD 45 million it injected into SoftBank’s first fund.

For its part, SoftBank said it plans to contribute USD 38 billion. It is likely to raise this fund by cashing out holdings in its first Vision Fund, which includes stakes in some of the world’s most valuable startups like Uber and WeWork, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

The second fund will invest in AI because of the sheer amount of data that we are generating and needs to be processed. SoftBank’s rejigged focus became more prominent in January this year when it rebranded its early venture arm to focus on Asian startups in the field.