Wednesday 19 February 2020 1:20 pm

Softbank set to invest $100m in AI startup Behavox

Softbank is reportedly close to investing $100m (£77m) in a startup which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help financial firms monitor employees’ behaviour. 

Softbank’s second Vision Fund is on the verge of signing the deal with Behavox, Sky News reported, which could be finalised as soon as next week. 

Behavox, which was founded in the UK in 2014 but is now based in New York, uses AI to help financial services companies spot signs of wrongdoing among employees, including rogue trading, bribery, and misuse of expenses. 

One source told Sky News that Softbank would invest in Behavox through its second Vision Fund, after the investment period for its initial $100bn Vision Fund concluded in September. 

The Japanese conglomerate’s first Vision Fund was the largest ever pool of technology investment capital ever raised. 

Launched in 2017, the fund became known for making outsize bets on promising startups, but has faltered in recent months after a string of disappointments from its portfolio companies, most notably the abortive initial public offering of office space giant Wework. 

Softbank is in the process of fundraising for Vision Fund II. Originally intended to surpass its predecessor at $108bn, founder Masayoshi Son has struggled to drum up external support for the vehicle.

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund accounted for the bulk of investment in the first Vision Fund, but are yet to commit to the second fund. 

Last week, Reuters reported that Softbank had pumped $2.5bn of its own cash into Vision Fund II and was considering investing a further $2.5bn in a bid to get it off the ground and restore its own money-making credentials. 

The conglomerate had already committed $38bn of its own money to the follow-up fund.

The valuation at which the Vision Fund is planning to invest in Behavox is unclear, but the Telegraph reported in July that the startup was targeting so-called unicorn status — a valuation of over $1bn. 

Hoxton Ventures and Index Ventures were early investors in Behavox, while Citi became a shareholder in 2017.

According to the startup’s website, its clients include Jeffries, Marshall Wace, and Anglo American.

Softbank declined to comment. City A.M. has contacted Behavox for comment. 

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