Masayoshi Son-led SoftBank Group Corp. could put more than $4 billion to work in India in 2021 across myriad technology bets, including software as a service (SaaS), B2B marketplaces, e-commerce, health-tech, and ed-tech. The investments will come from the Japanese company’s Vision Fund 2, which has an investment outlay of up to $30 billion for the current calendar year.
“In India, we’ve already invested more than $2 billion in 8-9 companies in the first five months of this year, a few deals are yet to be announced. And we will continue to invest if we find the right opportunities. I believe that SoftBank is the largest investor in India’s digital economy and will continue to be. We have invested about $14 billion in India so far,” SoftBank Vision Fund chief executive officer Rajeev Misra said in an interview from London.
India remains an important target market for investments from the Vision Fund, especially in the context of widespread technology-driven disruptions expected across the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Misra added.
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Among its new bets this year, Vision Fund 2 led a $300 million investment in Meesho in April, catapulting the social commerce platform’s post-money valuation to $2.1 billion. More recently, it led a $250 million funding round in Zeta, valuing the banking technology firm at $1.45 billion.
India-born Misra is now among the most high-profile figures in the world of investing due to his perch at the top of the largest technology investor in the world. In FY21, SoftBank posted $46 billion in profit, the largest in the history of any Japanese company and the third-largest profit declared last year in the world. Of this, $37 billion came from the Vision Fund.
Vision Fund 2 has invested in 95 companies, already outpacing the 92 companies it backed from the $100 billion Vision Fund 1 launched in 2017. Apart from Meesho and Zeta, the second fund’s portfolio in India includes Bengaluru-based edtech startup Unacademy and omnichannel eyewear brand Lenskart.
In addition, advertising technology company InMobi, which plans to list in the US by the end of this year, is now a part of the Vision Fund 2 portfolio. The India-born company was SoftBank Group’s oldest investment in India, pre-dating Vision Fund 1 and 2.