SoftBank’s Vision Fund Supports Goal of Being ‘World’s No. 1 Robotics Company’

In the News
January 06, 2017

Apple this week confirmed its $1 billion investment in SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund, increasing SoftBank’s odds to be “the world’s No. 1 robotics company” in service humanoid robots.

In October, Tokyo-based SoftBank announced that it was preparing to establish its Vision Fund for the purpose of making investments in the technology sector globally. In recent weeks, the investment and technology community had speculated that Apple was preparing to make a major investment in the Vision Fund, which it announced on Jan. 6. The relationship between SoftBank and Apple extends back to 2008, when SoftBank made a deal with Apple to become the exclusive iPhone seller in Japan.

Apple’s commitment follows Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund pledge of about $45 billion. Qualcomm, Foxconn, and Oracle are also said to be in for about $1 billion each. SoftBank reported that it will also invest $28 billion in the London-headquartered Vision Fund.

Vision Fund has lofty targets

At this rate and scale of support, SoftBank is on target to hit its goal of securing $100 billion for the Vision Fund, which SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son in October defined as a “new investment strategy on a scale that rivals those of current venture funds” to advance “promising technology companies.” Son, who recently met with President-elect Donald Trump, has promised to invest $50 billion of the fund in the U.S. to create 50,000 jobs in the country.

While SoftBank intends to invest a significant portion of the funds into promising tech startups, the company will use a portion of the funds to advance its own initiatives, which include Son’s vision to have SoftBank be a leader in...

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