SoftBank Puts its Focus on Southeast Asia and China With its First SEA Office

The firm rebrands its early-stage investment vehicle Softbank Korea Ventures to Softbank Ventures Asia

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The Japanese investment giant SoftBank is aiming to increase its investments in the Asia Pacific region by rebranding its early-stage investment vehicle Korea Ventures to Southeast Asia Ventures. Considering the pool of opportunities and the growth of startups in the region, Softbank Group is diversifying its focus on countries like Korea, Israel, China and Southeast Asian countries.

With its first office in the Southeast region, the firm is now trying to tap the potential in the Asian investment landscape by hiring professionals from Singapore and Shanghai.

"I am excited by the opportunity to enhance our presence in the early stage and look forward to backing passionate entrepreneurs with the boldest, most life-changing ideas. Our vision is to support promising young entrepreneurs by offering unparalleled access to SoftBank's community, resources, and network," says JP Lee, CEO and Managing Partner of SoftBank Ventures Asia. 

"SoftBank Ventures Asia invests to accelerate the Information Revolution and is increasingly interested in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) across different industries," adds Lee.

The Japanese Group launched the Korea Ventures in 2000 to focus on regions like Tel Aviv, Seoul and Beijing. From this year onward, the firm will focus on the US, Asia, Israel, and the EU. The global early stage funds focuses on startups based on information and communications technology.

AI Startups – Major Focus in APAC

According to the press release by the firm, SoftBank Ventures Asia will focus on finding AI-related startups in Asia. With over 1.1b funds under management, the firm had invested in 250 companies in the span of 18 years.

Some of the key investments of Softbank Ventures Asia include Tokopedia, a leading e-commerce firm based in Indonesia; Moka, an Indonesian fintech startup; Mythic, one of the fastest growing AI chip companies based in Silicon Valley; Hyperconnect, an operator of video communication service “Azar” and SNOW China, Asia’s biggest augmented reality-based camera app.

In Singapore and Vietnam, the firm has invested $26.7m in Singapore-based Redmart and Vietnamese startup in its venture capital round in 2018.

The Seoul-based SoftBank Ventures Asia’s primary investment candidates are early to growth-stage startups in the ICT industry, including AI, IoT, and smart robotics. Currently, the firm has a portfolio of startups in internet and mobile services, e-commerce, software, hardware, and advertising & media.