There isn’t a fund quite like the Softbank Vision fund. Nor is there a businessman quite like Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Softbank.
For industry watchers, the investments look like a ‘spray and pray’ strategy — except those same people dismiss that idea.
Now, thanks to an article in The New York Times, we might finally have an idea of what Son is doing, and why he invested in the Vision Fund’s portfolio companies.
The article pulled together enough sources and seems to have boiled the entire strategy into two words:
So what is the Singularity?
The Singularity is the idea that robots will eventually become smarter than humans, and thus make the workforce obsolete.
It is the climax in the story of fundamental shifts in our workforce that we can already see today.
For Son, he wants to own pieces in all of the companies building this disruption, an overarching theory that provides some apparent direction to the fund’s strategy.
In the article, Mapbox CEO Eric Gundersen points to data as the most important part of the Softbank Vision Fund. He said Son, “understands that we’ll need a massive amount of data to get us to a future that’s more dependent on machines and robotics.” (Mapbox is a Vision Fund portfolio company).
If one looks at the fund’s portfolio with an eye towards data, a picture does comes together.
For example, if take the sexiest rumour around the fund, a gigantic investment into Uber (which seems to have hit a roadblock). While its disruption of the taxi industry changed how we commute, the data Uber has gathered about where we go, what we eat and when we travel will be priceless in the coming years.
As the New York Times pointed out, Son could potentially own significant chunks in Uber, Ola and Didi Chuxing — possibly the three most important companies in the ride-hailing industry.
Finally, the article suggests the Vision Fund will continue to invest in companies at the current whirlwind speed.
When reading about the next Softbank Vision Fund investment, take a look at the company and see if there is a data play, because there probably is.
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