SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son (pictured) said the company’s Vision Fund investments would help lay the foundation for the organisation’s future, while also confirming interest in securing a stake in Uber or ride-hailing rival Lyft.
Speaking to investors at the company’s earnings call for its fiscal Q1 – covering the three months to end-June – Son discussed the deal-hungry company’s investment strategy, both for the SoftBank Vision Fund (SVF) and its separate interests.
During the call, Son confirmed rumoured interest in making an investment in Uber, but added it may instead opt for a share of rival Lyft. The company already owns a stake in Chinese ride sharing app Didi.
The executive did not confirm whether any investment in a ride-hailing company would form part of the Vision Fund or be part of SoftBank’s main portfolio.
Son said investments made as part of the SVF were about offering more than just financial backing. It plans to create strong “blood relationships”, using its large shareholding position to influence how businesses are run and help development by combining technologies from other companies it backs.
The SVF was announced in October 2016 with a focus on investing in new innovations across a range of industries. It already raised $93 billion from a range of backers, including Apple, Qualcomm and several large VC organisations.
SoftBank dubs the initiative a “strategic synergy group for information revolution”.
Early investments from the fund include graphics processor company Nvidia, biotechnology company Guardant Health, industrial IoT firm OSIsoft and fleet AI company Nauto.
Son said: “It’s not just monetary connections. We’re about influencing how the firms are run and maintaining a blood relationship.”
He added the fund was part of SoftBank’s “new concept” for a corporation and would help it achieve “continuous growth towards the next 300 years”.
During SoftBank’s fiscal first quarter the company – which operates across a number of industries and a range of markets – reported net profit attributable to owners of the parent for the quarter of JPY5.5 billion, down 97.8 per cent year-on-year.