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SoftBank's Collaborative Insurtech & Real Estate Tech Investment Strategy - CB Insights Research

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SoftBank Group has made several big name investments across insurtech and real estate, including deals to WeWork, OYO Rooms, PolicyBazaar, and Lemonade. SoftBank wants its portfolio companies to get along. Since 2014, SoftBank has been investing aggressively in companies modernizing insurance and real estate. Armed with its massive $98B Vision Fund, it hasn't been shy to write huge checks to startups disrupting these areas. The average size of Vision Fund-backed equity deals to insurtech and real estate startups exceeds $400M, and the Vision Fund has accounted for 8% of all deals by SoftBank Group in these areas since 2014.


SoftBank Invests $400 Million in Home-Selling Startup Opendoor

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Eric Wu, Opendoor's chief executive and co-founder, said the company will use the money to expand faster than originally planned--a common trait of SoftBank-backed companies. "We were planning to launch a city a month, and now we're planning two a month," Mr. Wu said. The company offers its service in 19 markets. Real estate has become a main industry of focus for SoftBank and its $92 billion Vision Fund, which is backed largely by wealth funds from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Since 2017, the fund has now led fundraising rounds totaling more than $8 billion into most of the largest startups in the sector.


The most powerful person in Silicon Valley

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It's a bright September morning in San Carlos, California, and Masayoshi Son, chairman of SoftBank, is throwing me off schedule. I'd come, as he had, to meet with the people he's tapped to run the Vision Fund, his $100 billion bet on the future of, well, everything. After almost four decades of building SoftBank into a telecom conglomerate, Son, an inveterate dealmaker, launched this unprecedented venture two years ago to back startups that he believes are driving a new wave of digital upheaval. He has staked everything on its success–his company, his reputation, his fortune. We'd both arrived with the same basic question: Where is this massive vehicle heading? But because I wasn't the one footing the 12-figure allowance, I understood that I'd be the one to wait. When I finally arrive at the Vision Fund's offices, just off California's Highway 101, I'm struck by how mundane they are. Son is known for big, showy statements. He reportedly paid $117 million for a home in Woodside in 2013, the highest price ever in the U.S. This glass and concrete building, on the other hand, could be found in any part of suburban America. The room where I wait is spartan.


SoftBank Discusses Taking Majority Stake in WeWork

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Talks are fluid and there is no guarantee there will be a deal, some of the people said. SoftBank and WeWork this summer were discussing a smaller investment that would value WeWork at up to $40 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported in June. If a deal is completed, it would be one of the largest and more momentous deals of the past decade's startup boom. SoftBank in January completed the biggest investment in a venture-backed startup, paying $7.7 billion for a 15% stake in Uber Technologies Inc. More than 160 private companies backed by venture capital have valuations of more than $1 billion, up from just a handful in 2010.


Money vs. morals: Khashoggi killing raises questions in Silicon Valley about Saudi investment

Washington Post - Technology News

A few prominent voices in Silicon Valley are calling for the tech world to exercise greater caution in vetting its investors as disquiet builds about one of the industry's biggest backers -- Saudi Arabia -- and its role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The calls, while still isolated, are challenging the hush-hush world of money-raising in the startup industry, where venture-capital firms and privately owned startups disclose little about their funding and operations. "It is time for all of us in the startup and VC sector to do a deep dive on our investor base," Fred Wilson, the influential founder of Union Square Ventures, a New York City-based venture capital firm with strong ties to the Valley, argued in a blog post Sunday. "Who are our investors and can we be proud of them?" "It will be a real moral challenge for anyone to accept money moving forward from Saudi Arabia," said Venky Ganesan, a partner at technology investor Menlo Ventures, which invested in Uber and Warby Parker, and former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association. So far in public, the tech community is largely staying quiet -- reflecting the difficulty of undoing some investments and the traditionally discrete nature of the Valley's many non-public companies and funds, industry experts say.