Apple to invest $1bn in SoftBank’s tech fund

Apple is the latest backer to join the SoftBank Vision Fund, which plans to invest $100bn in tech companies worldwide

  • By Emily Cashen | Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Artificial intelligence is one of the key investment areas for the SoftBank Vision Fund

Technology giant Apple has confirmed that it will be investing $1bn into SoftBank’s international technology fund. The SoftBank Vision Fund, launched in October 2016, plans to make significant investments in technology start-ups around the world.

“We believe their new fund will speed the development of technologies which may be strategically important to Apple”, company spokesman Josh Rosenstock told Reuters.

Set to become one of the world’s biggest private equity funds, the SoftBank Vision Fund has attracted a growing list of high-profile investors. The Saudi Arabian Government has pledged to invest $45bn in the fund over the course of five years, while chipmaker Qualcomm, Foxxconn Technology Group and Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison also intend to contribute. An initial close to this first round of fundraising is scheduled for the end of January 2017, with a final close expected by mid-2017.

Apple’s contribution to SoftBank’s Vision Fund marks a change in the company’s investment strategy

The $100bn tech fund, which will be based in London, looks to invest in emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. Such research areas may be of particular interest to Apple, as it increasingly looks to diversify its technologies. In December, the company published its first artificial intelligence research paper, detailing its progress in developing AI software.

Apple’s contribution to SoftBank’s Vision Fund marks a change in the company’s investment strategy. Historically, Apple has shown little interest in investing in venture-capital funds. However, this stance appears to have changed over the past year, most significantly with a $1bn investment in Chinese ride-share company Didi Chuxing. While Apple may have previously focused on acquiring fledging start-ups valued at under $1bn, the company’s recent string of billion-dollar investments could mark something of a shift in its vision for the future.