Japan’s SBI Investment to raise $451m for new fund focused on AI, blockchain

Artificial intelligence photo by Reuters

Japanese venture capital (VC) firm SBI Investment, a subsidiary of Tokyo-listed SBI Holdings Inc., has established a new fund to invest in the artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain firms, with a target corpus of JPY 50 billion ($451.5 million).

The venture fund, called SBI AI & Blockchain Fund, will invest in a broad range of AI and blockchain businesses, including fintech, IoT, robotics and sharing economy startups.

The new fund is a successor to the company’s FinTech Fund, which is managed by SBI Investment, the core company in SBI Group’s Asset Management Business. The fintech fund was closed in December 2015 with commitments of JPY 30 billion ($270.9 million).

“SBI Investment has been considering launching the (AI and blockchain) Fund since around October 2017 and decided to start making investments reaching about JPY 20 billion in January 2018 to meet strong requests from the existing FinTech Fund investors, domestic and overseas financial institutions, corporations, and institutional investors,” the company said in its official statement.

SBI Investment said it plans to solicit additional investments from regional financial institutions, including regional banks and credit associations, and institutional investors such as life and non-life insurers and pension funds. It noted that regional financial institutions had, in particular, expressed their intentions to make investments in the latest fund.

The SBI Group, as a whole, currently invests in 61 companies – approximately JPY 32 billion ($288.96 million) – including investments by SBI Holdings and its affiliates.

In November 2017, Tokyo-based Xenodata Lab, which leverages AI to provide financial data analytics products to financial services companies, secured a JPY 250 million investment from Japanese financial majors such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc, SMBC, Mizuho, and Okasan Securities.

In December 2016, Mitsui & Co Ltd invested in Preferred Networks Inc. (PFN), which specialises in AI technology development and provision and a focus being on deep learning.

Also Read:

Japanese app Mercari expects $1.8b in valuation for its Tokyo listing in June

APAC Digest: Japan’s Middlefield & BoostIO, Korea’s Open Gallery raise funding

Mercer acquires Japan’s BFC Asset Management

Japan’s GPIF picks StepStone as global infrastructure fund-of-funds manager

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.