Twitter-backer Sozo Ventures seeks $500m for new fund

Asakusa, Taito, Japan. Photo: Claudio Guglieri/unsplash

US and Japan-based cross-border venture capital firm Sozo Ventures is seeking to raise $500 million for a new fund that will likely continue to make investments in the two countries where it is located, a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission shows.

The target amount for the new VC fund – Sozo Ventures III – is more than twice the total capital raised by Sozo Ventures for its previous two funds. According to Crunchbase data, the VC firm raised $100 million in 2013 and another $134 million in 2017.

Founded in 2011 by Koichiro Nakamura and Phil Wickham, Sozo invests primarily in the US and Japan, with a focus on technology startups in sectors such as fintech, IoT, healthtech, and cloud.

Its portfolio includes notable global tech firms such as Twitter, video conferencing app Zoom, software firm Palantir, mobile payment company Square, digital writing assistant Grammarly, and cryptocurrency platform Coinbase.

“We look for companies that are at the ‘Readiness’ Stage – a term coined internally that details companies that have a strong management team and culture, stable long-term investors, credible and recognizable customers, and traction, and appropriate organizational structures for target international customers,” the firm said on its website.

Sozo said it dives in at all stages of company building from seed to pre-IPO and supports businesses across multiple stages of financing.

Wichman, one of the firm’s co-founders, was a general partner at JAFCO America Ventures, where he led the creation of portfolio strategic services with more than 40 corporate LPs. He went on to become a partner and urn US operations for Copan, a European venture fund based in Munich, Germany.

Nakamura, on the other hand, was a member of the founding team of Yahoo! Japan and launched Innovation Kitchen, which incubated seed-stage ventures in the country.

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.