Apple has confirmed plans to invest in SoftBank’s massive $100 billion Vision Fund, joining a host of tech giants including Foxconn Technology Group Ltd. and the family office of Oracle Corp who are also interested in the fund.
The fund, a joint effort between SoftBank and the government of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), reportedly seeks to invest in emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. In December, Apple published a paper detailing its AI research, and its interest in IoT through HomeKit is ongoing. Beyond’s Apple’s $1 billion investment, SoftBank is investing roughly $25 billion in the Vision Fund, with another $45 billion to come from Saudi Arabia.
The SoftBank Vision Fund plans to hold an initial close to its fundraising by the end of the month, with a final close expected in mid-2017, according to people familiar with the matter.
“We’ve worked closely with SoftBank for many years and we believe their new fund will speed the development of technologies which may be strategically important to Apple,” said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the investment.
The deal follows Apple’s $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, announced in May. The investments mark a shift for Apple, which has focused on acquiring startups valued at less than $1 billion.
SoftBank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son told President-elect Donald Trump in December that about half, or $50 billion, of the fund would be invested in the U.S., pledging to create 50,000 new jobs in the country. It counts Jonathan Bullock, chief operations officer of SoftBank International, and Alok Sama, SoftBank’s chief financial officer, as senior advisers.
The fund brings together many competitors with overlapping business interests that stretch back years. In 2008, SoftBank struck a deal with Apple to become the exclusive iPhone seller in Japan. Those phones are mostly made by Foxconn and many include microchip technology that Qualcomm licenses from SoftBank-controlled ARM Holdings.