Microsoft and Apple have reached a memorandum of understanding with SoftBank over its $108 billion Vision Fund 2. Once more, the investment will focus on propelling leading, growing companies who are using AI.
Of the $108 billion, $38 billion is coming from SoftBank itself, while the rest will come from the capital contributions of participating companies. As well as Microsoft and Apple, there's Foxconn, Mizuho Bank, MUFG Bank, Daiwa, the National Bank of Kazakhstan, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, and more.
However, perhaps more notable is who isn't present in the list. SoftBank's previous Vision Fund caused some concern due to its investment from key figures in the Saudi Arabian government. One of those is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who many will know from his alleged role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
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The $108 billion metric is expected to increase when SoftBank finalizes talks with other participants, which it did not list.
“The objective of the Fund is to facilitate the continued acceleration of the AI revolution through investment in market-leading, tech-enabled growth companies,” said SoftBank.
The move from Microsoft comes shortly after it announced a $1 billion investment in Open AI, an AI research organization founded in part by Elon Musk. The company is continuing to make big commitments to AI in the pursuit of the holy ‘Artificial General Intelligence' and widespread transformation. These are likely to pay off for Azure cloud platform, which is well-positioned to provide services to transforming companies.
SoftBank did not detail Microsoft's contribution to the fund, and whether it would come in Azure credits, technical support, or cash. However, earlier reports from the Financial Times indicated that if the tech giant did invest monetarily, it would be under the condition that SoftBank promoted Azure, rather than AWS, to its portfolio of companies.
In 2018, SoftBank reported that it made ¥297 billion Yen from selling Vision Fund investments, which included Walmart, and Nvidia. Its realized a gain from investment valuations reached ¥1 trillion Yen due to growth in Uber, Guardant Health, and Oyo.
Essentially, there are significant financial benefits for being part of the fund, while the adoption of AI is generally good for the market and Azure.