#Asia SoftBank had a busy 2015. Here’s a look at its global startup investments this year


softbank japan

A SoftBank retail location in Japan. Image credit: House of Japan.

Japanese telco SoftBank is one of the biggest investors both from Asia and in Asia these days. Founder and CEO Masayoshi Son largely handed the reins over to his India-born successor Nikesh Arora, who was named president back in May. Arora even put US$482 million of his own savings back into the SoftBank pot last summer.

SoftBank’s 2015 portfolio includes a variety of verticals spanning fintech, medtech, adtech, and more – but nascent ecommerce platforms featured prominently. With one of two billion-dollar investments going to South Korea’s Coupang, SoftBank is clearly hoping that lightning will strike twice after Son’s US$50 million bet on a young Alibaba became worth more than US$90 billion post-IPO.

Here are all of SoftBank’s disclosed investments from 2015, in reverse chronological order. This list excludes those made from collaborative investment funds like SB ISAT. Note that the figures below are the total investment amounts – not necessarily SoftBank’s individual contribution.

Grofers (India), November

Need fresh veggies from the local supermarket or a new SD card for your digital camera? If you don’t feel like leaving the house, Grofers has you covered. The Indian logistics startup partners with local merchants to deliver goods to your doorstep within 90 minutes from placing on order. It raised three funding rounds in 2015, including a US$120 million series C led by SoftBank.

Ola (India), November

Uber’s hottest rival in India raised an impressive US$500 million series F round from a host of investors including Didi Kuaidi (another Uber rival from China) and, of course, SoftBank. Other Uber rivals in Asia have since joined forces to take on Kalanick’s Silicon Valley juggernaut, one of which you’ll encounter further down this list.

Cybereason (US), October

SoftBank’s most recent investment in the US was leading a US$59 million series C round for Cybereason, a startup that leverages artificial intelligence to provide cyber security. Though currently based in Massachusetts, Cybereason was founded by members of the Israeli military’s elite cyber security unit.

SoFi (US), October

Student loan refinancing is big business in the US, where earning a university diploma can cost more than a new car or your first-born child (or both). SoFi, a fintech startup from San Francisco that helps students wrangle their educational debt, attracted a whopping US$1 billion in series E funding led by SoftBank.

OYO Rooms (India), August

OYO Rooms, an ecommerce platform for booking budget hotels in India, raised US$100 million from SoftBank and others over the summer.

Snapdeal (India), August

Amazon and Flipkart rival Snapdeal secured half a billion from SoftBank, Alibaba, Foxconn, and a group of existing investors to remain competitive in India’s booming ecommerce landscape. It still trails the US$2 billion pumped into Amazon’s Indian arm by its parent company, and the US$1 billion raised by Flipkart – but Snapdeal has been on an acquisition spree to beef up its mobile-first approach.

grabtaxi raises $250 million

GrabTaxi (Singapore), August

Southeast Asia’s leading transportation app added US$350 million to its warchest in August, with China Investment Corp leading. Though we didn’t mention it when we covered the announcement, SoftBank has since confirmed to Tech in Asia that it followed on for the round. Again, GrabTaxi is one of the startups that’s joined forces with several of its regional rivals to challenge Uber.

Cinarra Systems (US), July

California-based Cinarra Systems operates a targeted advertising platform for mobile devices. It landed a US$20 million series B round led by SoftBank.

Coupang (South Korea), June

This was a big one. SoftBank’s only investment in Korea was for the country’s largest and fastest-growing ecommerce portal (sound familiar?), Coupang – to the tune of US$1 billion. The startup was founded as a Groupon competitor, but is now more akin to Amazon. Its CEO likes basketball and, apparently, skipping court dates.

Fetch Robotics (US), June

American industrial robotics startup Fetch Robotics raised US$20 million in series A funding, which SoftBank took the lead on. Fetch’s current robotic fleet can recharge autonomously and work independently alongside humans in a warehouse setting.

Beabloo (Spain), May

SoftBank led a EUR 10 million (US$10.8 million) round for Spanish digital marketing and retail analytics startup Beabloo, the only investment in a European venture on this list.

Banjo (US), May

Banjo is a search and discovery startup that uses social and location data to ensure users don’t miss connections or opportunities nearby. SoftBank led its US$100 million series C round.

Origami (Japan), April

Boutique online-to-offline shopping app Origami raised US$13.3 million in series B financing from SoftBank last spring, making it one of Japan’s most-funded startups. Since then, Origami has also entered Japan’s crowded offline payments space.

Quixey (US), March

Alibaba led Quixey’s US$60 million series C round in March, with SoftBank joining in on the fun. The startup provides a search engine for apps.

Kuaidi Dache (China), January

Way back at the beginning of 2015, SoftBank contributed toward Kuaidi Dache’s US$600 million series D round. Just one month later, Kuaidi Dache and Didi Dache would merge to form Didi Kuaidi in a bid to keep Uber at bay.

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