Softbank, one of the largest investment management conglomerates in the world, is reportedly eyeing several investments in the artificial intelligence (AI) field after having paused its crypto investments. According to the Financial Times, Softbank founder and chief executive officer Masayoshi Son is prepared to put tens of billions of dollars into AI, with Microsoft-backed Openai being one of these potential opportunities.
Softbank Reportedly Prepared to Invest Billions in AI Initiatives
Softbank, the Japanese investment management conglomerate, is considering entering the field of artificial intelligence (AI) investments, according to reports from the Financial Times. According to two people familiar with the matter, Softbank’s founder and chief executive officer Masayoshi Son is considering putting “tens of billions of dollars” into AI-related investments, with a partnership with Microsoft-backed Openai also in the company’s sights.
The company posted a net loss of $3.3 billion for Q2 2023 but booked an investment gain of $1.1 billion in its Softbank Vision Fund, considered an index for the tech sector’s health in investment circles. This and the initial public offering (IPO) of Arm, the mobile chip powerhouse company owned in part by Softbank, have led the company to switch to a more active investment strategy after almost pausing its entire activity in Q1.
At that time, Softbank’s CFO Yoshimitsu Goto stated the conglomerate was “carefully and slowly emerging back to investment activity,” focused on the AI trend, having invested only in selectively considered opportunities at that point.
Pivoting From Crypto to AI
While the company has made public its interest in AI opportunities, it has put investments in cryptocurrency startups on ice since last year, when sources told Forbes Softbank would likely remain on the sidelines for the last two quarters of 2022.
The company has not invested in any cryptocurrency project since June 2022, when its Vision Fund 2 co-led a $66 million funding round for Infstones, a Web3 infrastructure provider. The company had to write down its $100 million investment in FTX last year. This year, Softbank only informed of a partnership with game-focused blockchain project Oasys, reporting it would serve as a validator of the Web3 project in February.
Comparatively, according to reports, Softbank could be eyeing a purchase of Graphcore, a U.K.-based chipmaker that develops Intelligence Processing Units (IPUs) specifically designed for AI computing. However, Graphcore denied having received any purchase offer from the fund.
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