SoftBank launches $100m fund to back people of colour

Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

SoftBank Group Corp is launching a $100 million fund to invest in “companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of colour”, in the latest corporate action as protests roil the United States.

Described as SoftBank’s bid to improve diversity, “we have to put money behind it, set plans, and hold ourselves accountable,” SoftBank’s Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure, who will head the fund, wrote in a letter to employees on Wednesday.

Named the “Opportunity Growth Fund” and focused on African Americans and Latinos in the U.S. it is, SoftBank says, the largest fund of its kind.

It will invest in entrepreneurs “from communities that face systemic disadvantages in building and scaling their businesses,” Claure wrote.

SoftBank also runs the $100 billion Vision Fund, which is headed by Rajeev Misra and invests amounts larger than the entire new fund in startups around the world.

In addition to leading restructuring at floundering office space startup WeWork, Claure runs a fund investing in Latin America. He and Misra are seen as potential successors to Chief Executive Masayoshi Son.

“Racism is a lamentable thing,” Son wrote on Twitter, ending his post with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter.

Claure wrote in his letter that Tokyo-headquartered SoftBank was also establishing a “dedicated diversity and inclusion program”.

SoftBank’s management is overwhelmingly male, with the company planning to nominate its first female board director at a shareholder meeting later this month.

While spanning a wide range of nationalities, only four of 30 investors listed on Vision Fund’s website are female.

Companies including foreign firms like SoftBank have made public statements following the worst U.S. civil unrest in decades as the death of an unarmed black man reignites the issue of police brutality against African Americans.

Sony Corp this week pushed back an event for its upcoming PlayStation 5 console, saying “we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard.”

Reuters

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.