Softbank Is Placing Another Huge Bet on Ridesharing With Its $100 Billion Vision Fund
Softbank (SFTBY) is making another $500 million investment in Southeast Asian ridesharing leader Grab in a new funding round worth $1 billion, sources with knowledge of the deal told Reuters.
Grab has raised $6.1 billion in funding so far, led by Softbank, Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing and Toyota (TM). The firm, based in Singapore and operating in seven more Southeast Asian countries, is looking to expand beyond just ridesharing to food delivery, money transfers and mobile payments.
The announcement comes just a day after Softbank and Toyota’s reveal of an autonomous mobility project called Monet. It’s to be launched by the end of the current fiscal year next April with 2 billion yen ($17.5 million) in capital and scale up to 10 billion yen as needed.
The Japanese company has $100 billion in its Vision Fund and a $100 million minimum investment requirement, Softbank managing partner Jeffrey Housenbold explained at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference earlier this year. Its overarching strategy is to identify a market leader, pour hundreds of millions of dollars in it, and remove the constraint of capital. Once a deal is identified, several investment professionals sit down with the company’s management team, discuss the opportunity, and essentially re-write their business plan.
When Uber exited parts of the Southeast Asian market this spring, it entered into a partnership with Grab that led to critical attention from Singapore’s antitrust agency. Officials levied $9.5 million in fines on the two companies, saying Grab used its position as market leader to unfairly raise fares after the Uber exit.