- The SB Opportunity Fund will become an evergreen fund to allow for continued investment in U.S. Black, Latinx and Native American founders
- Investment Committee adds Catherine Lenson and Brett Rochkind of SoftBank Investment Advisers
- SoftBank Vision Fund’s Emerge program to extend 2022 cohort beyond Europe
MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–SoftBank Group Corp. (“SoftBank Group”) today announced that the $100 million SB Opportunity Fund has been deployed in more than 70 companies founded by Black and Latinx founders in the U.S. – and will continue as an uncapped, evergreen fund as part of SoftBank Group’s ongoing commitment to invest in underrepresented founders.
Launched with $100 million in June 2020, the Fund is investing in and building a community of technology companies founded by Black, Latinx and Native American entrepreneurs in the U.S. The initial $100 million was invested in a diverse array of technology companies that are expanding access to financial services, improving global hiring and payments, offering more inclusive health care, building blockchain infrastructure, and more.
Approximately 55% of the initial portfolio companies are Black-founded, 40% Latinx-founded and 5% Black/Latinx-founded, including 13% founded by women of color. The Fund includes four unicorn companies with a reported valuation of over $1 billion and has had two exits to date. Approximately 50% of the portfolio either raised, or is currently raising, another round of funding after the Fund’s initial investment, with many at multiplied valuations.
The SB Opportunity Fund launched in 24 hours as SoftBank Group made a commitment to invest in underrepresented founders in the wake of increased racial injustice. “Now SoftBank is doubling down by turning the initial investment into a lasting commitment,” said Shu Nyatta, Managing Partner at SoftBank Group International and leader of the Fund. “We are in this for the long haul.”
To support the Fund’s continued growth, SoftBank Investment Advisers (“SBIA”) Managing Partners Catherine Lenson and Brett Rochkind will join Investment Committee members Stacy Brown-Philpot (former TaskRabbit CEO) and entrepreneur and investor Paul Judge under Nyatta’s leadership.
In addition to her new role with the SB Opportunity Fund, Lenson is the executive sponsor of the SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge program. Established in 2019, and working in parallel with the SB Opportunity Fund, Emerge aims to advance diversity in technology and entrepreneurship by providing founders across a spectrum of underrepresented backgrounds with the capital, tools, and network they need to scale their business. In addition to supporting European founders, the 2022 edition of Emerge will extend to applicants from underrepresented communities in a wider range of geographies, taking the program to new jurisdictions for the first time.
“The SB Opportunity Fund and Emerge are two core pillars of SoftBank Group’s ongoing effort to support a more equitable ecosystem within venture capital and technology, that should reflect the world in which we live,” Lenson said. “Through the Opportunity Fund and Emerge, SoftBank has invested in an incredible pool of companies and will continue to identify new ones, while focusing on creating value for the portfolio by leveraging the vast resources that SoftBank’s network has to offer.”
Applications for the 2022 Emerge program will formally open later in the year. Founders can pre-register their interest at www.emergeaccelerator.com.
For SB Opportunity Fund investment and partnership inquiries, visit theopportunityfund.com/introduce-yourself.
About SoftBank Group
The SoftBank Group invests in breakthrough technology to improve the quality of life for people around the world. The SoftBank Group is comprised of SoftBank Group Corp. (TOKYO: 9984), an investment holding company that includes stakes in telecommunications, internet services, AI, smart robotics, IoT and clean energy technology providers; the SoftBank Vision Funds, which are investing more than US$140 billion to help extraordinary entrepreneurs transform industries and shape new ones; the US$5 billion SoftBank Latin America Fund, the largest venture fund in that region; the US$3 billion SoftBank Latin America Fund II; and the SB Opportunity Fund, a US$100 million fund investing in Black, Latinx and Native American founders in the U.S. To learn more, please visit https://group.softbank/en.
The SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge accelerator seeks to promote diversity in tech by connecting underrepresented founders with the capital, tools and network needed to help scale their businesses. Established in 2019 by SoftBank Investment Advisers, Emerge combines a customized eight-week mentoring program with capital investment to support future growth. Participant founders gain unique access to SoftBank professionals, portfolio companies, industry experts, and Europe’s wider VC support networks. www.emergeaccelerator.com