What is SoftBank investing in right now?
From an NFT startup to a luxury resale platform, these are SoftBank’s latest investments.
In May 2017, SoftBank made a bet on high-growth startups by launching its venture capital fund to lead a series of investment rounds.
The Vision Fund, which is led by billionaire investor and CEO Masayoshi Son, is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund with investments from SoftBank, Mudadala Investment Company, and notable investors such as Apple. In May 2020 however, reports revealed the Fund was underperforming, as it recorded a loss of $18bn (£13.3bn) that led to 15% of the fund's 500 staff departing the firm.
A year later, things started to turn around. The company recorded a profit of $46bn, reflecting a strong year from its investment portfolio. This led to the launch of its second Vision Fund 2, backed solely by SoftBank. Its purpose is to continue the company’s string of investments into disruptive businesses within the AI, finance and technology sector.
According to data from PitchBook, the firm is on pace to participate in more VC deals in 2021 than ever, having recorded 69 deals in less than six months.
Here we round up a few of SoftBank’s latest investments.
Live events platforms DICE raises $122m in Series C funding
London-based event ticketing platform DICE has completed a $122m Series C investment round backed by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.
Founded in 2014, DICE was created to provide an accessible platform for fans to discover and buy tickets to live shows in seconds. It now works with over 3,600 venues and has adopted a ‘fan-first’ model through its mobile platform. It focuses on retaining its customer base with its Discovery algorithm, which is responsible for over 40% of tickets sold, as reported by TechCrunch.
“DICE is rewiring the live experiences industry,” said Phil Hutcheon, CEO and Founder of DICE. “We have proven that if you treat fans well, they go out more.”
“We're overhauling an unfair, inefficient system by pioneering a transparent, data-led, fan-first approach – building a scalable ecosystem that helps artists, promoters and venues thrive. To have SoftBank as a partner enables us to expand into every market,” Hutcheon added.
Yanni Pipilis, Managing Partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers commented: “We believe DICE's technology has the capacity to transform the future of live entertainment. Alongside the flexibility and security of seamless ticketing, the platform connects fans, artists and venues in a completely new way... We are excited to partner with DICE to help create remarkable event experiences for fans all over the world.”
DICE will use the funding to expand its reach to artists and venues as well as growing its London-based workforce.
Luxury resale platform Vestiaire secures $209m to boost global presence
Popular luxury resale platform Vestiaire Collective announced that it has raised an additional $209m in funding by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.
It raised the same amount back in March 2021 from French luxury group Kering and Tiger Global Management, with both firms taking a 5% stake in the platform.
The funding is set to bolster its digital platform and fuel expansion into new territories as consumers focus on reducing fast fashion and adopting a sustainable approach to online shopping.
Maximilian Bittner, Vestiaire Collective CEO, said the funding is a “recognition of achievements”.
He added: “It confirms the attractiveness of our positioning embracing luxury, technology, sustainability and community. Their respective experiences as preeminent global investors supporting high-growth business models will be highly valuable to us in our next phase of development.”
Proptech startup Pacaso raises $125m, becomes fastest US startup to hit unicorn status
San Francisco-based second-home ownership platform Pacaso, that helps people buy and co-own a second home, announced a $125m Series C funding round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.
While it only launched in October 2020, the round brings the company’s valuation to a meteoric $1.5bn, as it becomes the US’s fastest growing startup to hit unicorn status.
Pacaso is another startup that saw tremendous growth during the pandemic as the ability to work remotely transformed how people think about housing.
The company has hit an annualised revenue run rate of $330m and manages nearly $200m in real estate on its platform. In Q2, the website and mobile app saw 1.8 million website visits, a 196% increase from Q1 2021, it reported.
“Pacaso is perfectly positioned to support families looking to own a second home,” said Austin Allison, CEO and co-founder of Pacaso.
“We continue to grow at an incredible pace, which is a testament to our team, the resonance of co-ownership, and the company's ability to provide a modern and more sustainable way to own real estate in second home destinations.”
NFT startup Sorare raises $680m, hits $4.3bn valuation
Fantasy football startup Sorare, which specialises in digital NFT player cards, has announced that it has raised $680m in Series B financing led by SoftBank.
Sorare has experienced tremendous growth since launch. In a press release it confirmed it had more than 600,000 registered users on the platform and licensed players from over 180 football organisations, including Real Madrid, Liverpool and Juventus.
It has also hit over $150m worth of cards traded on the platform since January. “The number of monthly active paying Sorare users grew by 34X between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021, with quarterly sales increasing by 51X over the same period,” the company stated.
Sorare provides a secure and transparent model of digital ownership, allowing users to collect and trade limited edition digital player cards and collectibles. The digital cards are NFTs, with each card unique and its ownership publicly verifiable via the Ethereum blockchain.
“Sorare's game is born from our love for football and our expertise in tech,” said Nicolas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Sorare.
“We saw the immense potential that blockchain and NFTs brought to unlock a new way for football clubs, footballers, and their fans to experience a deeper connection with each other. We are thrilled by the success we have seen so far, but this is just the beginning. We believe this is a huge opportunity to create the next sports entertainment giant, bringing Sorare to more football fans and organisations, and to introduce the same proven model to other sports and sports fans worldwide.”
Sendoso secures $100m Series C funding
San Francisco-based gifting platform Sendoso completed a $100m Series C investment round earlier this month led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.
Sendoso, which was launched in 2016 by CEO Kris Rudeegraap to diversify enterprise engagement platforms, saw a surge in demand after the pandemic started with corporate businesses looking to maintain meaningful relationships through personalised engagement strategies.
“We believe Sendoso offers the most comprehensive end-to-end gifting platform in the market,” said Priya Saiprasad, Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We're excited to lead this Series C round to help Sendoso accelerate its vision.”
Sendoso revealed via a press release how it plans to use the funding, namely to support its 20,000 global enterprise users, which include firms such as Thomson Reuters, Nasdaq and eBay, plus increase its 500-person workforce by 30% before 2022.
E-commerce fulfilment platform Sendcloud raises $177m in Series C funding
E-commerce shipping platform Sendcloud announced a $177m Series C financing round led by Softbank Vision Fund 2.
Sendcloud helps businesses optimise their shipping and fulfilment processes by offering a variety of flexible delivery solutions. It works directly with all major European shipping carriers with access to over 400,000 service points across Europe.
“At a time when consumers around the world want to decide where, when and how they want to receive a parcel, leading online merchants depend on Sendcloud to fuel their logistics process,” said Rob van den Heuvel, CEO and co-founder of Sendcloud.
“To engage consumers in the long term and successfully process growing parcel volumes, a multi-carrier solution like Sendcloud is essential,” he added.