WeWork Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure during an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at WeWork headquarters in New York City on February 10, 2020.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
SoftBank Group is providing $ 3 billion to launch a second fund that will focus on investing in startups in Latin America, the Japanese tech giant announced on Tuesday.
After a dismal period in 2019 that culminated in WeWork’s abandoned IPO, SoftBank has re-emerged as a major technology investor around the world, stepping up its bet on a region that will spawn a growing number of valuable companies.
According to a report by CBInsights, venture investors invested $ 9.3 billion in Latin America in the first six months of 2021, compared to $ 5.3 billion for the entire previous year. Brazilian Nubank was recently valued at $ 30 billion, making it one of the most valuable venture capital backed companies in the world. The company is expected to go public soon.
In a blog post titled “The Latin American Startup Opportunity” in July, venture firm Sequoia partners wrote: “The market opportunity is there, and the ecosystem is ready and buoyant.” Sequoia is an investor in Nubank.
SoftBank’s Latin America Fund II will focus on investing in companies using technologies such as artificial intelligence and scout deals in e-commerce and digital financial services, as well as blockchain projects. SoftBank has already committed $ 3 billion to the fund, which will operate out of Miami, São Paulo and Mexico City.
“There is so much innovation and upheaval in Latin America, and I believe the business opportunity there has never been so great,” said Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank, in the press release.
Marcelo Claure, Chief Operating Officer of SoftBank and former Sprint CEO, leads investments in the region. The Bolivian native, who also serves as WeWork’s Executive Chairman, currently leads the first $ 5 billion SoftBank Latin America Fund, which was launched in 2019.
In the past few months, Softbank has made a number of large investments to move beyond its role in the WeWork crisis. Last month, the company made a $ 200 million investment in the Whoop digital fitness tracker and a $ 650 million round in Indian ed-tech company Eruditus. It also helped raise $ 325 million in funding for sports e-retailer Fanatics.
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