SoftBank to launch second Vision Fund for late-stage startups

Japanese investment bank poised to reap benefits of early investments in Uber, WeWork and Slack as they go public

SoftBank is set to launch a second $100bn (£77bn) Vision investment fund as the original profits from its early bets on Uber, WeWork and Slack.

Founder Masayoshi Son said: “We are going to enter a true harvest season. The first fund is going extremely smoothly so we are going to formally start preparations for fund two.”

Second time around, SoftBank may take 100 per cent ownership of Vision Fund II rather than share investment with Saudi Arabia. Those close to SoftBank told the Financial Times that it wanted to avoid being so tied up with a single investor following the opprobrium after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Vision Fund, which invests in late-stage startups, has burnt through almost $100bn within two years, and is reportedly in talks with Oman over a further multi-million-pound investment.

Possible flotation

The firm is also said to be mulling the flotation of its original Vision Fund as it looks to raise more cash.

The value of Vision Fund’s $60.1bn investment in 69 companies had risen to $73.2bn by the end of March, with the fund poised to cash in on upcoming floats of some of its biggest bets.

One of its more recent bets was in February, when it invested $324m in UK-based challenger bank challenger bank OakNorth, at the time the largest-ever fund-raise for a European fintech business.

In March SoftBank announced the launch of a separate Softbank Acceleration Fund tech fund with up to $500m to pour into early-stage tech startups.

And Softbank is providing half the cash for a new $400m (£310m) London-based European tech start-up fund run by Abu Dhabi state investment company Mubdala, which will invest between $5 million and $30 million in suitable European start-ups.