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SoftBank Capital announces new $250M fund

PrinceVille Fund will help western companies compete in Asian markets

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
February 7, 2013 | Comments
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(Updated to reflect comment from SoftBank)

SoftBank Capital, the venture group affiliated with Japan’s Softbank Corp., has closed a new $250 million fund, it was announced Thursday.

Called SoftBank PrinceVille Investments, L.P. or “PrinceVille Fund," it will focus on helping growth-stage companies break into global markets, specifically those in Asia. The PrinceVille Fund’s investment focus will continue the themes of previous Softbank Capital investments  in social media, mobile applications, ecommerce, online advertising, gaming and cloud computing.

The Fund expects to generally invest $10-20 million in each 12 to 15 investments from this fund, Steve Murray, partner at SoftBank Capital, told VatorNews.

Softbank Capital has another fund, called Softbank Capital Technology Fund ’10, which invests in early stage opportunities.  The Princeville Fund is a complementary fund to the Softbank Capital Technology ’10 Fund.

Due to SoftBank's presence in Japan, China and other countries in Asia, Softbank says that it is "uniquely positioned to help growth stage technology companies achieve success in their international expansion plans."

Asian markets are attractive to western companies, SoftBank says, but they are challenging and it can be difficult for foreign companies, with no experience in the region, to compete. There are massive opportunies in Asia, where customers are seeing rising incomes and where spending is growing quickly.

Chinse e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and MediaTek, a Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company , will act as limited partners and members of the Advisory Committee of the PrinceVille Fund. They will provide additional strategic value and local experience in Asia.

"Alibaba will be a valuable source of deal flow and market intelligence in China for the fund.  Alibaba also may be a co-investor in one or more of the Fund’s deals but Alibaba will not be involved in any investment decision process," Murrary said.

In addition to the funding news, SoftBank also announced that three new executives have joined the investment team:

Kabir Misra, managing partner at SoftBank Capital and President/CEO of SB China and India Holdings, Scarlett O’Sullivan, lead for U.S. investments for Bodhi Investments, and Matt Krna, who joined Softbank Capital from Investor Growth Capital where he led several of the firm’s successful growth stage investments.

"Kabir, Scarlett and Matt  bring additional growth stage investment experience to the team as well as on the ground experience in Asia.  All three have investment banking backgrounds earlier in their careers.  More recently, Matt has been actively investing in growth stage companies in the Fund’s target sectors.  Kabir and Scarlett most recently were managing a Softbank Corp affiliated fund that was located in Asia," said Murray

Founded in 1995, some of the SoftBank Capital's recent exits include Buddy Media, which was acquired by Salesforce for $689 million in June; Hyperpublic, which was acquired by Groupon in February 2012; Huffington Post, which was acquired by AOL in February 2011 for $315 million; and OMGPOP, which was acquired by Zynga for $200 million in March.

Some of SoftBank's other investments include pariticpation in a $30 million investment in Cheezburger, a $200 million cash infusion for InMobi; a $147 million investment in Zynga; participation in a $19.3 million Series D round for Buzzfeed; and particpation in a $3 million in Series A funding round for BestVendor.

Softbank Capital maintains active offices in New York City, outside of Boston and Northern California.

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