The $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund has captured a lot of attention for its high-profile investments in the likes of workplace messaging app Slack and co-working space start-up WeWork.
But the Japanese conglomerate has another unit under its wings that is on the lookout for promising early-stage companies to nurture: SoftBank Ventures Korea.
Despite its name, the venture capital firm considers and invests in start-ups across the world. It has invested in nearly 200 start-ups since its inception in 2000. Its portfolio has included Singaporean online food store RedMart and Indonesia’s online marketplace Tokopedia.
“We used to cover only Korea, but now we look at every early-stage company all across the world. We have investment portfolio companies in Southeast Asia, we have dozens of them in Singapore, Indonesia, we have investments in the U.S. and also we cover Israel,” JP Lee, partner and managing director of SoftBank Ventures Korea, told CNBC.
Lee added that the venture capital unit is looking for start-ups that use technology, such as artificial intelligence, to provide a service.
“What we’re looking at is more of an application. AI can enable many different things and we’re specifically looking for services platforms that could accelerate the growth of the markets,” he said. “So we’re looking for entrepreneurs who can come up with these ideas to leverage the technology, not necessarily the technology itself.”