The PrinceVille Growth Fund from SoftBank Capital, which is the venture arm of the Japanese giant SoftBank Corp, announced a new $250 million fund in 2013 to help companies looking to expand into the Asian marketplace.
The fund will supply 12 to 15 companies with between $10 million and $20 million each for the purpose of driving this Asian expansion, with a core focus on those companies serving the key digital trends being seen in Asia such as human-machine interaction and mobile payments. These trends are not yet as mainstream in Europe, and the result of this is that many technology companies now focus on Asia as their primary target market for expansion before Europe. SoftBank claims that because of the extensive network of SoftBank Corp throughout Asia, SoftBank Capital is ideally placed to help drive expansion into Asia for a variety of companies.
SoftBank PrinceVille Investments
As a board member of SoftBank PrinceVille Investments, Mukesh Valabhji is excited by the focus of the new fund, which it is hoped will identify some of the companies best placed to focus on new digital trends and build them up before there is too much local competition. Working with SoftBank, Valabhji has been inspired to invest further in new technology start-ups. Valabhji has an extensive portfolio of investments, including media and communications network Intelvision and a number of commercial and resort properties across the world. The Mukesh Valabhji blog – coming soon – will have further details of many exciting investment opportunities.
The PrinceVille Fund will not stray too far from typical SoftBank investments, focusing on technology companies specialising in social media, ecommerce, gaming, cloud computing, online advertising and mobile apps. Three new executives have been brought in to manage the PrinceVille Fund. One of these executives, Matt Krna, explained that the fund was designed to work with the growing number of companies looking at international expansion at a much earlier stage than ever before, and focusing primarily on the Asian markets before Europe.
SoftBank Capital is the venture capital arm of SoftBank Corp, a Japanese wireless carrier with huge global reach. Among other notable achievements, SoftBank Corp was responsible for initially introducing the iPhone to the Japanese market. To date SoftBank has focused primarily on funding seed-stage companies and is now altering that focus with the new fund, which will concentrate on more mature or established companies looking to expand into Asia and in particular into Japan, Korea and China. Due to the already extended reach of SoftBank throughout these markets, the company claims to be the very best venture capital provider to work with for those seeking to break into them.
SoftBank Capital invests across all stages of company lifecycle, from start-up to growth and maturity, with a preference for businesses with (or looking to establish) a strong presence in the Asian and US markets. Assets include Yahoo! Japan, SoftBank Mobile, Sprint, GungHo Online Entertainment, Brightstar and Alibaba Group. As a worldwide ecommerce retailer, Alibaba Group will be providing local experience within Asian markets as well as additional strategic value.
The global telecommunications, internet and media conglomerate SoftBank Group has headquarters in Tokyo. SoftBank Capital assists SoftBank Group in identifying key strategic investments. Recent successful exits by SoftBank Capital include Huffington Post, Buddy Media, Pivot, ZipList, Hyperpublic and OMGPOP. SoftBank offers entrepreneurs a committed investment partner with a solid track record and strong network of industry connections, as well as a deep level of local knowledge within the Chinese, Japanese and Korean markets.
Asian Mobile and Technology Market
The Asian technology market currently offers myriad opportunities for companies seeking expansion, with strong demand creating growth. The mobile market in particular is highly mature and represents a huge opportunity for monetisation as rising incomes see consumers willing to spend more money on new technologies. Consumer spending on mobile and other technologies is rising at a far faster rate in Asia than in other markets, creating attractive opportunities for new and established companies in the field. The PrinceVille Fund offers exciting opportunities for those companies to gain a toehold in the Asian markets, with not only the requisite financial backing but also the support of a group of related companies such as Alibaba Group and Yahoo! Japan. This additional strategic support has the potential to accelerate the expansion of market presence for the companies benefiting from the fund.