SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son says new Vision Fund to be set up in ‘near future’ [Reuters]

SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son, Founder of the world’s largest Private Equity fund, said on Tuesday that a second Vision Fund would be set up in the near future, with funds from investors in the first venture or institutions.

Son’s reputation as a visionary investor has attracted more than US$93 billion to his technology investment vehicle, as of last May, with a second Vision Fund potentially further upending the world of dealmaking.

“Vision Fund 2 will definitely come,” Son told a conference in Tokyo. He said the fund would not be launched in the next six months but would be “in the near future”.

Son did not say how big the new fund could be.

Didi pares back hitchhiking car service following passenger murder [TechCrunch]

Didi Chxuing is making big changes to Hitch, its inter-city carpooling service, following the murder of a passenger at the hands of a driver earlier this month.

Last week, Didi– China’s dominant ride-hailing service by some margin — expressed its “deep remorse” for the murder, and suspended Hitch for a week to conduct a review of the service.

Hitch, as the name suggests, is a hitchhiking-style service that groups people who are headed in the same direction together. Unlike Didi’s other services, it isn’t commercial; passengers give the driver their share of fuel and any other costs they want to cover. That makes it affordable and hugely popular, but it has also made the service less professional than Didi’s other modes of transport.

Indeed, many in China have claimed the service is ‘sleazy,’ with many comments left about passenger appearances, particularly those who are female.

Roadstar.ai raises record US$128M as autonomous car race with Baidu heats up [South China Morning Post]

Self-driving technology startup Roadstar.ai has raised US$128 million in its Series A funding round, marking the single biggest investment made in an autonomous driving company in China.

The record funding, which was led by Shenzhen Capital Group and Wu Capital, has come at a time when open-road tests of driverless cars have intensified in the world’s second largest economy.

Zhou Guang, Chief Scientist at Roadstar.ai, said on Tuesday that the new investment “will be used to bankroll operations of our self-driving fleet and data collection”.

Besides that funding round, Roadstar.ai has launched a software suite called Aries, which enables an autonomous vehicle to drive in the rain or at night with a maximum distance for error of five centimetres, according to a separate WeChat post by the company on Tuesday.

Thai bank SCB expands its fintech VC programme to US$100M [Techsauce]

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), through its fintech investment arm Digital Ventures, has increased its corporate venture capital fund by US$50 million, bringing the fund’s total capital base to US$100 million and making it the largest venture capital fund in Thailand.

The bank also signaled a shift in focus from fund-of-fund investment towards more direct investment to support its digital transformation strategy.

WhatsApp rolls out new group chat features [Reuters]

Messaging service WhatsApp rolled out new group-chat features on Tuesday, including more controls for administrators as well as regular group members.

Users can now leave a group permanently to avoid being repeatedly added back after they have left, Facebook Inc-owned WhatsApp said in a blog post. reut.rs/2L5G6k2

Administrators can no longer be removed from a group they created and users can now quickly locate messages that mention them in a group conversation.

Groups on WhatsApp have taken a central role in the messaging service that has more than 1 billion users, helping connect people with similar interests across the globe.

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