Yahoo Japan invests $4.4m in Softbank-backed SB Drive

Screencap of SB Drive promotional video.

Yahoo Japan is investing JPY 490 million ($4.4 million) in SB Drive, an autonomous bus unit within the SoftBank Group.

Yahoo Japan will be acquiring about 50 per cent, being the top shareholder after SoftBank.

This latest funding round will see Yahoo JAPAN invest approximately JPY 490 million, with SoftBank infusing another JPY 190 million. This makes it a cumulative investment of approximately JPY 510 million ($4.59 million

SB Drive functions by applying big-data and mapping technologies.

SB Drive was launched in April 2016 as a joint venture (JV) with Advanced Smart Mobility, a company researching and developing automated driving technologies. SB Drive hopes to begin fully driverless bus testing in 2018 and is targeting commercialization in 2020.

According to details in a SoftBank press release, SoftBank will hold 51.1 per cent while Yahoo Japan will own 48.6 per cent and Advanced Smart Mobility, 0.3 per cent.

Under a cooperative framework with SoftBank, Advanced Smart Mobility, Yahoo! JAPAN and others, SB Drive has been conducting social trials and testing the commercial viability of fixed-route bus type community public transportation and large truck convoy-based trunk line freight transportation systems that utilise self-driving technologies.

Currently, SB Drive has smart mobility partnership agreements with four municipalities in Japan, including Kitakyushu City and Yazu Town in Tottori Prefecture. In H2 of FY2018, SB Drive is planning to conduct fully autonomous driving trials on public roads.

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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.