Softbank has launched a new global tech fund with up to $500m (£384.68m) to pour into early-stage startups.
The Japanese telecoms giant could launch the Softbank Acceleration Fund as early as next month, according to Reuters.
The new fund – a rebrand of Seoul-based SoftBank Ventures Asia, is around five times the size of comparable funds launched last year, data from Preqin suggested.
While Softbank’s $100bn Vision Fund focuses on providing cash to late-stage startups, this one will focus on companies at a much earlier stage of growth that are still trying to get their ideas off the ground.
“It’s an important signal within the Softbank Group that Softbank thinks early-stage investments are important and will make continued efforts on them,” said JP Lee, the fund’s boss.
When he secured a green light to start the new fund last October, Softbank chief executive Masayoshi Son asked him why they should invest in early-stage startups.
Reuters said Lee replied by referring to Son’s $20m investment in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is now worth $130bn.
As well as Softbank, South Korea’s National Pension Service will pour money into the fund, along with unnamed companies and asset managers.
The multinational’s latest move signalled its ongoing transformation from a telecoms player into a major tech investor on the international stage after investments in Uber, We Work and other firms.
It has launched a $5bn fund targeting Latin America, which chief executive Son said is “on the cusp of becoming one of the most important economic regions in the world”.
That fund, the Softbank Innovation Fund, will be run by ex-Sprint boss Marcelo Claure, with a remit covering e-commerce, health care and digital financial services.