SoftBank launches a $100 million Opportunity Fund to invest only in companies led by people of color
The recent killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police, has sparked outrage across cities in the United States and countries around the world. The death of George Floyd is also attracting the attention of tech executives and venture capitalists around the world with many of them planning to invest and provide funding to minority-owned businesses.
On Wednesday, Japanese giant SoftBank announced a $100 million Opportunity Fund that will invest only in companies led by people of color. The new fund is one of the first large funds created in response to nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd. In an interview with CNBC, SoftBank Group International CEO Marcelo Claure said the company put the new fund together in just 24 hours after speaking to SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son.
“We spoke to Masa Son about the privilege that we see at SoftBank, being one of the largest tech investors in the world, and we needed to do something big about it,” Claure said. “The whole thing is to do something about it. I see a lot of people have good intentions, but I think each one of us needs to contribute to make change in America,” he added.
The fund will start with $100 million of its own capital and could grow that with more investments. Still, the fund pales in comparison to SoftBank’s Vision Fund of $100 billion, which is designed to invest heavily in high-growth start-ups. ($100 million was the minimum amount SoftBank would invest in Vision Fund companies.)
Unlike other funds, SoftBank said it will not take a traditional management fee and half of its gains will be reinvested into subsequent Growth Opportunity Fund. In addition to the new $100 million Opportunity Fund, SoftBank also said that it will match all personal donations, up to $1,000, to support nonprofit organizations that fight racism and discrimination.
Founded in 1981 by Masayoshi Son in September 1981, the Tokyo, Japan-based SoftBank is a multinational telecommunications and internet corporation focused on broadband, fixed-line telecommunications, e-commerce, internet, technology services, finance, media and marketing, and other businesses. Softbank is the sixth-largest telephone operating company by total revenue $74.7 billion. The company has invested in a lot of startups including Uber.
SoftBank also generates and sells electricity from renewable energy sources; provides payment processing, invoice collections, and computation services for businesses; distributes video, voice, and data content via media; operates IT information site ITmedia; provides solutions and services for online businesses; and operates online games and software downloads. Additionally, it is involved in the ownership of professional baseball team; operation of baseball games; management and maintenance of baseball stadium and other sports facilities; and procurement of funds by issuing preferred securities.