The new vehicle will serve as a sequel to its original $100 billion tech fund, which was backed primarily by SoftBank itself, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company. Last year’s murder of Saudi journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi brought an uncomfortable focus to SoftBank’s open arms toward the PIF’s cash.
The PIF contributed $45 billion to the first Vision Fund… is said to be in talks to contribute to Vision Fund II, albeit in a reduced amount.
However, in something of a pivot away from such controversy, the new fund will reportedly have a significantly more diverse field of LPs. Thus far, Apple, Microsoft, Mizuho and Standard Chartered are among those that have signed agreements to contribute to the vehicle.
SoftBank’s own commitments to the second Vision Fund have been a source of conjecture, as the telecom giant looked to free up more funding. A significant reason is the still-undecided fate of the merger between Sprint, in which SoftBank holds a $19 billion stake, and T-Mobile. Should the US government approve the tie-up, SoftBank will receive a windfall via partial extinguishment of some $150 billion in debt. That liberated cash could bring SoftBank’s investment in Vision Fund II as high as $50 billion, per the WSJ.
The original Vision Fund, which held its first close in 2017, has been known for outsized investments in consumer technology and artificial intelligence, often with competitors receiving funding.