SoftBank Ventures Korea, the early-stage investment vehicle of Japanese internet conglomerate SoftBank Group, has renamed itself SoftBank Ventures Asia as it seeks to increase investments globally with an emphasis on Asia.
The firm is looking to expand its presence beyond Seoul, Beijing, San Francisco, and Tel Aviv by targeting to open offices and hire investment professionals in Singapore and Shanghai.
“Our vision is to support promising young entrepreneurs by offering unparalleled access to SoftBank’s community, resources, and network. SoftBank Ventures Asia invests to accelerate the Information Revolution and is increasingly interested in the application of artificial intelligence across different industries ” said SoftBank Ventures Asia CEO and Managing Partner JP Lee.
SoftBank Ventures Asia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp. and was established as SoftBank Ventures Korea in 2000. While initially focused on the Korean market, starting in 2011 it has expanded to make investments in startups globally. With over $1.1 billion under management, SoftBank Ventures Asia has invested in over 250 companies across 10 countries with a focus on AI, IoT, and robotics startups.
Notable investments globally include Indonesian e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia, Silicon Valley-based AI chip company Mythic and augmented reality camera app SNOW China.
More recently, the venture firm co-led a $20-million Series C funding round for Silicon Valley-based healthcare technology firm Gauss Surgical and was the lead investor in the $9.15-million (10.3 billion won) funding round for Bepro11, a Seoul-based sports video and data analytics startup.
In Southeast Asia, the firm also led a $20-million funding round for Indonesian co-working space provider EV Hive.
Last year, the firm also launched a new $300-million China-focused fund, which was reportedly raised in partnership with TPG Growth, the global middle market and growth equity platform of alternative asset firm TPG.
The fund, which targets promising early-stage startups in China in a number of sectors including artificial intelligence, deep tech, media and contents, is by far the biggest fund established by SoftBank Ventures and is more than twice as large as its SB Next Media Innovation Fund, which was closed at $147.3 million in 2016.