SoftBank-backed startup Uhuru mulls London listing to grow outside home market

The Vision Fund's $100 million backing for Biofourmis, a U.S. startup that tracks health data using wearable devices, highlights its new focus on early-stage investments. (Photo courtesy of Biofourmis)

Uhuru, a Japanese startup backed by SoftBank that helps connect devices to cloud services, is considering listing in London as it looks to grow outside of Japan.

“The London market is very appealing in terms of the amount of capital that can be obtained and the higher profile would give credibility when dealing with global partners,” Uhuru Chief Executive Takashi Sonoda said in an interview.

While Japanese companies like Line Corp have chosen to list in New York in recent years, a London listing would be unusual. Airline ANA Holdings delisted its London shares two years ago.

No decision has been made on the listing, Sonoda said. Preparations towards an initial public offering are underway but he declined to comment on the timing.

Last year the startup received a 500 million yen ($4.50 million) investment from SoftBank Corp. Other investors include Salesforce.Com, Mitsui & Co and Dentsu.

The company declined to provide financial details.

Uhuru opened an office in London last year, putting it in close proximity to Cambridge-based SoftBank subsidiary and business partner Arm, which is expanding its connected devices service business.

Uhuru, a name which means freedom in Swahili, currently has only three staff in London. It would like to expand to 100 people – particularly engineers – in the next few years.

It thinks the U.K., despite Brexit risks, will be an easier place to find talented staff than Silicon Valley where there is more competition. Uhuru has 280 staff in Japan.

While Uhuru also sees growth opportunities in Japan the country lacks risk capital, overseas investors’ attention and analysts looking at small companies, Sonoda said.

Also read:

SoftBank Vision Fund has already invested $65-70b, says Masayoshi Son

SoftBank plans new venture fund to tap early-stage startups

Reuters

 

Singapore Reporter/s

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

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  • 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. 
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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.