The Saudi Arabian government is ready to commit another $45 billion to SoftBank's Vision Fund
Doubts have swirled in the world of high finance over the last few months about the ambitions of one of the biggest big-money players in Silicon Valley: The Saudi Arabian government.
Those should quiet down a little bit after today.
The man behind the Saudi governmentâs tech ambitions, Mohammed bin Salman, disclosed in an interview Friday that his country was prepared to invest another $45 billion into the next SoftBank Vision Fund, which has served as the Saudisâ primary tech investment vehicle.
SoftBank, the Japanese telecom giant that has upended the Silicon Valley money world over the last 18 months, has said that it will soon raise another fund that would equip it with more ammunition. The Saudi Public Investment Fund is the Vision Fundâs largest outside backer, and so the tenuous political situation in the country â" along with the delays in what would be the worldâs largest ever IPO, of the Saudiâs state-run oil company â" were being watched closely in Silicon Valley as tealeaves for whether the barrage of money might abate.
âWithout the PIF, there will be no SoftBank Vision Fund,â bin Salman told Bloomberg. âWe would not put, as PIF, another $45 billion if we didnât see huge income in the first year with the first $45 billion.â
Bin Salman said heâs âof courseâ happy with the performance of the fund, which despite being highly controversial in tech quarters is beginning to see some success, such as the IPO this week of Guardant Health.
The Saudis and SoftBank have formed a tight bond that is rooted in each of their financial needs: The Saudi government has embarked on an ambitious attempt to diversify their economy away from oil â" leading them into sectors like U.S. tech. And SoftBankâs leader Masayoshi Son is seeking massive stockpiles of readily available cash that can finance startups for hundreds of millions of dollars.
So while itâs not an obvious marriage, it has worked.
Still, look for SoftBank to try and build a broader base of backers in any future Vision Fund â" which would help insulate the investor against upheavel in any one part of the world. SoftBank, which is transitioning from a telecom company into an investment company, could also play a bigger role in the Vision Fu nd that it has organized.recode_divider
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