The Nikkei Asian Review writes that Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp last Friday (26 July) agreed to raise upwards of USD108 billion to establish a new investment vehicle akin to its successful Vision Fund – which was established with USD100 billion and whose portfolio includes US ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies and office sharing company WeWork, among others. In an interview with Nikkei at SoftBank’s Tokyo headquarters, Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s founder and CEO, outlined what he sees as the sometimes misunderstood potential of artificial intelligence (AI), explaining: ‘AI is already past the stage of academic research and is at the stage of real-world adoption,’ adding: ‘It will be used extensively. If I were to name three areas that will be most drastically transformed by AI in ten years, they are corporate business models, health care and transportation.’ Further, Son said that his aim to transform SoftBank Group Corp into an investment company ‘will be key to ensuring its survival for 300 years’ – reportedly a long-time goal of the entrepreneur.
Separately, Son told reporters his company was investing USD2 billion in Asian ride-hailing firm Grab, although a SoftBank spokeswoman later clarified that Son was referring to capital already invested in Grab, and that the CEO has expressed his willingness to invest further funds in the ride-hailing firm. Grab is looking to invest heavily in Indonesia over a five-year period, using the capital it has received from SoftBank Group Corp which wants to increase its exposure to the region’s most populous market. The investment will go toward creating a next-generation transportation network and transforming how critical services, like healthcare, are delivered, Grab confirmed via a statement. ‘SoftBank will invest the USD2 billion into the country through Grab, to drive the digitisation of crucial services and infrastructure,’ Singapore-headquartered Grab noted.