When $100BN is not enough… Softbank is planning Vision Fund sequels

Softbank looks to be preparing follow on raises to its first ~$100BN Vision Fund. Speaking to Nikkei today CEO Masayoshi Son said: “The Vision Fund was just the first step, 10 trillion yen ($88BN) is simply not enough. We will briskly expand the scale. Vision Funds 2, 3 and 4 will be established every two to three years.”

The Vision Fund 1 was announced in October 2016 and its first close — of $93BN — was earlier this year, in May. The investment focus is generally artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

Son has said his conviction that superintelligence AI is coming is what lies behind the fund — and explain his haste. “I truly believe it’s coming, that’s why I’m in a hurry – to aggregate the cash, to invest,” he said this February.

It’s not clear at this point who Softbank intends to tap up to invest such vast sums for the follow on funds, but backers of the first Vision Fund include Apple, Qualcomm, Foxconn, the sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates and the public investment fund of Saudi Arabia.

Asked about investors in the forthcoming Vision funds a spokesman for Softbank told us: “Mr. Son was talking broadly about his views on investing strategy, but not about any specific plans.”

In comments to Nikkei, Son did set out his expectations for the funds’ size and likely investment reach over the next decade.

“We are creating a mechanism to increase our funding ability from 10 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen to 100 trillion yen,” he said, adding that, all told, the funds “will probably have invested in at least 1,000 companies within 10 years”.

According to Nikkei, all the Vision Funds are expected to chiefly target unicorns — aka tech startups that haven’t gone public yet but have an estimated valuation above $1BN.

The average scale of investment by the funds is likely to reach about $888 million, it said.

We’re keeping a running list of all the companies the first Vision Fund has invested in so far — you can find it here.

Earlier this week we also reported that an Uber-Softbank deal is “very likely” to be finalized next week.