As technology collapses, SoftBank sells VC unit to Singapore-based company headed by Masayoshi Son’s brother

by Ana Lopez

SoftBank sells ones venture capital arms, based in South Korea SoftBank Ventures Asia (SBVA), to The Edgeof, a Singaporean investment company, according to the two companies.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the Singaporean VC firm aims to close the acquisition this year.

Last month, the younger brother of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son Taizo son And Atsushi Tairamanager of Mistletoe, founded The Edgeof “with the aim of transforming the startup ecosystem across Asia by creating a supportive environment for αStartups.” They define so-called “αStartups” as startups that have a mission to address fundamental problems in the world with advanced technology, the company’s statement said.

The acquisition comes after SoftBank and its Vision Fund posted massive losses amid the technical slump and macroeconomic slowdown. In February, SoftBank said its investment vehicles were placed a loss of nearly $6 billion in the quarter ended December, the fourth consecutive quarterly loss. Last May, the Japanese tech giant came said in an earnings call that it would cut startup investment by 50-75% through March 2023.

SoftBank Ventures Asia has approximately $2 billion in assets under management (AUM) and has invested in a variety of portfolios in Asia, including South Korean interior design app OHouse, Japanese sneaker resale platform SODA, Indonesian cloud kitchen startup Yummy, and hyperlocal social trading company Super.

Some of the portfolio companies the Seoul-based VC firm invested in led to larger investments by SoftBank’s Vision Fund a few years later. These include Tokopedia, an Indonesia-based e-commerce platform that received funding from SBA in 2014 and that of SoftBank Vision Fund in 2018; Iyuno, a provider of translated subtitles and other media localization services, which raised money from SBVA and Vision Fund in 2018 and 2021 respectively; and Singapore’s cross-selling startup Carro, which has also been picked up SBVA And Vision Fund. Nigerian fintech Opay is another example that raised capital from both SBVA and Vision Fund.

“We are excited to begin this new journey with The Edgeof,” JP Lee, CEO of SoftBank Ventures Asia, said in a statement. “Joining forces will allow SBVA to leverage its expertise, insights and network to support visionary entrepreneurs in their endeavors and empower them to make a lasting global impact that transcends Asia.”

The two founders, Son and Taira, founded their venture capital company Mistletoe in 2014, which invested in 250 startups worldwide. The existing VC firm will partner with The Edgeof to help discover “job-changing” startups, it says. The Edgeof will unveil a new brand identity once the acquisition deal is closed, according to the company.

“We are confident that our combined strengths and resources will usher in a new era of revolutionary technologies and solutions, giving us a prominent influence in developing and expanding αStartups worldwide,” said Son.

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