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SoftBank Has a New Fund That's Investing in AI-Focused Startups

By NexChange
AI, Blockchain, Financial Services

Having already poured a windfall of cash into tech companies via its $100-billion Vision Fund, SoftBank has now opened the coffers on a new AI-focused fund and made its first investment in a startup outside of Japan, as Business Insider reports.

SoftBank’s $52-million Deepcore Fund contributed to a $29.5 million fundraising round for the San Francisco-based startup Engineer.ai, which allows people to create their own custom software. Along with SoftBank, the fundraising round for Engineer.ai was led by Lakestar Ventures and Jungle Ventures, according to Business Insider.

Sachin Dev Duggal,co-founder of Engineer.ai, tells Business Insider this is the first investment the Deepcore Fund has made in a startup that isn’t based in Japan. The Deepcore Fund made its first investment in April, funding a Tokyo-based startup called VAAK, “which utilizes security camera analysis AI for shoplifting prevention.”

Here is more about the focus of the Deepcore Fund – which is separate from the Vision Fund – via it’s launch announcement:

Through this business, DEEPCORE will develop young and talented entrepreneurs in the AI field, especially in the Deep Learning arena, and support startups. DEEPCORE aims to accelerate the adoption of Deep Learning in society and foster entrepreneurs by creating a new ecosystem that promotes collaborative projects and develops startups, in cooperation with various educational research institutions and companies. As a first step, DEEPCORE entered a joint research agreement with Matsuo Lab of The University of Tokyo, a leader in Deep Learning research in Japan, to promote joint projects with companies and develop entrepreneurs. DEEPCORE will collaborate with other educational research institutions and organizations in the future.

SoftBank’s aggressive investments in the global tech market has led some to wonder whether this could actually hurt the IPO market. Jason Calacanis, a technology investor who was an early backer of Uber, told CNBC last year that people in Silicon Valley are wondering why a company would file for an IPO when it could just stay private and take money from SoftBank.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund made a significant investment in Uber last year.

Photo: Getty iStock

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