Today SoftBank Capital, the NY-based venture arm of Japan’s largest wireless provider Softbank Corp., has strengthened its ties to Japan even further, announcing that Yahoo! Japan will be injecting $20 million into SoftBank’s early-stage Technology Fund ’10.
The $20 million investment and partnership will help U.S. startups at any point in their development, from early-stage companies who need funding to more mature companies looking to expand into new markets. Yahoo! Japan’s investment will be an addition to the $100 million early-stage fund, which is a complement to the freshly announced PrinceVille fund.
SoftBank announced the $250 million PrinceVille fund back in January, which was aimed to help U.S. markets expand into Asia using SoftBank’s extensive (and growing) network of mentors and partners.
Yahoo! Japan is the largest web portal in Japan and one of the country’s largest e-commerce platforms, and it’s interested in learning more about innovation happening in the United States, with particular focus on social. According to Joe Medved, partner at SoftBank Capital, Yahoo! Japan’s presence in Japan is overwhelming, especially in the quickly evolving mobile landscape.
“Social networking services in Asia tend to be very home grown, but Facebook and Twitter have taken over as global social platforms,” said Medved. “Yahoo! Japan wanted to understand the U.S. market.”
Alongside the new investment from Yahoo! Japan (which, remember, is a separate entity from Marissa Mayer’s ship here in the U.S.), Yahoo! Japan is sending Toshiaki Chiku, the new head of U.S. operations, over to NY where he will work directly with SoftBank Capital to oversee investments and partnership deals.
According to the official press release (via Nielsen), Yahoo! Japan reaches 80 percent of Japan’s internet users through its various web portals and services. Not only will Yahoo! Japan get a clearer window into the U.S. market, but companies looking to tap into the fast-paced Asian market will have a solid Goliath-style partner in Japan to back them up.
Specifically, SoftBank and Yahoo! Japan will be looking to invest in mobile, social, ecommerce, online advertising, gaming, and cloud computing spaces. Obviously, each one of these markets is chock-full of prime options, but SoftBank seems to have a mind for taking on big winners.
The firm’s previous exits include BlueFin Labs, which was recently acquired by Twitter, BuddyMedia’s acquisition to SalesForce.com, Huffington Post’s acquisition by Aol, and Zynga’s acquisition of OMGPOP.