Nov 13, 2020

SoftBank eyes smaller bets, bigger returns in Vision Fund rethink

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education, finance, government, health, wearables

The quiet shift in strategy, which brings the Vision Fund’s approach closer to that of a traditional venture capital investor, may ease concerns over big, bold bets going sour, a factor that has left a major gap between SoftBank’s market capitalization and the sum of its investments.

TOKYO — SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund is turning to a new strategy as a global pandemic and government stimulus distort tech valuations: Invest smaller in hopes for bigger returns.

After raising nearly $100 billion and investing $85 billion in high-profile companies like Uber Technologies, WeWork and ByteDance over three years, the Vision Fund is now focusing on making smaller bets in early-stage startups.

Among the investments it has led are $100 million in Zhangmen, a Chinese online education startup; $150 million in Unacademy, an Indian peer; and $100 million in Biofourmis, a U.S. startup that tracks health data using wearable devices. In total, it has approved 19 investments worth $3.5 billion for “Vision Fund 2” — a vehicle currently funded entirely by SoftBank.

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