Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group will sell its early-stage venture capital arm SoftBank Ventures Asia to The Edgeof, a newly formed investment firm helmed by Son’s youngest brother, Taizo Son, as the tech conglomerate grapples with steep losses.
The deal, for an undisclosed sum, is slated to be completed later this year, pending regulatory approval, SoftBank Group and The Edgeof announced Wednesday. The Singapore-based firm was cofounded in March by Taizo Son, founder of Japanese venture capital firm Mistletoe, and chairman Atsushi Taira, a former SoftBank executive and managing director at Mistletoe.
“We are excited to commence this new journey with The Edgeof,” said Joonpyo Lee, CEO of SoftBank Ventures Asia, in a statement. “By joining forces, SBVA will be able to leverage its expertise, insights, and network to support visionary entrepreneurs in their endeavors and enable them to make a lasting global impact that transcends Asia.”
Based in Seoul, SoftBank Ventures Asia oversees approximately $2 billion in assets under management, targeting tech fields such as AI and smart robotics. Its investments include Singaporean automobile marketplace Carro, Indonesian online marketplace Tokopedia (now part of GoTo) and Korean resale platform Danggeun Market. Five of its portfolio companies made last year’s Forbes Asia 100 to Watch: Apartmentary, Doctornow, Endowus, Payhere and Toss Lab.
The divestment follows SoftBank’s reported net loss of $5.9 billion and a 90% decrease in startup investments in the quarter ending last December, after its flagship SoftBank Vision Fund struggled amid plummeting returns from its startups. After writing down its $100 million stake in the now-defunct cryptocurrency platform FTX to zero, SoftBank has almost entirely backeddown on its aggressive blockchain investments, sources familiar with the matter told Forbes in February.
Last August, Taizo Son planned to buy SoftBank Ventures Asia for $150 million, South Korean local media reported, citing people familiar with the matter. At the time, the ailing venture capital arm’s negotiations with other prospective buyers had fallen through, including talks with retail conglomerate Shinsegae Group.
Taizo, who is 15 years Masayoshi’s junior, launched GungHo Online Entertainment in 1998 – best known for Puzzle & Dragons, once the world’s bestselling mobile application. His firm Mistletoe claims its investments include drone delivery provider Zipline and PC gaming unicorn Playco.