SoftBank renames early-stage investment arm, to focus on AI startups
Photo Credit: Reuters

Japanese internet conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp's early-stage investment vehicle, SoftBank Ventures Korea, has been renamed as SoftBank Ventures Asia.

Seoul-based SoftBank Ventures Asia said in a statement that it will expand teams globally with an emphasis on Asia. Currently, it has teams in Seoul, Beijing, San Francisco and Tel Aviv.

SoftBank Ventures Asia is planning to expand its presence by opening offices and hiring investment professionals in Singapore and Shanghai.

"SoftBank Ventures Asia invests to accelerate the information revolution and is increasingly interested in the application of artificial intelligence across different industries," said JP Lee, chief executive and managing partner of SoftBank Ventures Asia.

SoftBank Ventures Asia is a wholly owned subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp and was established as SoftBank Ventures Korea in 2000. It initially focused on the Korean market.

Since 2011, it has expanded to make investments in startups globally.

It has invested in over 250 companies across 10 countries with a focus on artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and robotics. It has $1.1 billion in funds under management.

SoftBank Ventures Asia said it is actively investing in the United States, China, European Union, Israel, Southeast Asia, and Korea.

SoftBank Ventures Asia’s notable investments include Indonesia-based e-commerce firm Tokopedia, US-based artificial intelligence chip company Mythic, augmented reality camera app Snow China and South Korea’s Hyperconnect, operator of video communication service Azar.

In India, it invested in Gurugram-based startup True Balance, operated by Balancehero India Pvt. Ltd.

Seoul-based Balancehero Co. Ltd Korea is the parent of Balancehero India. In April 2018, Balancehero India had raised $23 million (Rs 150 crore) in a funding round.

True Balance is a mobile app that lets its users check their mobile calls and data balances.

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