Today, Apple confirmed plans to invest in SoftBank’s massive $100 billion Vision Fund, the international tech fund that the telecom giant announced last October.
In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple verified its involvement in the fund, a rumor first reported by The Wall Street Journal in mid December:
“Apple is planning to invest $1 billion in SoftBank’s Vision Fund. 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.”
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.
Qualcomm and Oracle are also rumored to be interested. In statements to TechCrunch, both companies declined to comment on their potential interest in the fund.
The Vision Fund recently became entangled with President-elect Donald Trump, when he claimed credit for Vision Fund plans that pre-dated his election win. Trump appears to have coordinated with SoftBank CEO and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son, tweeting a misleading boast about his role in creating new jobs. Given SoftBank’s enduring desire to buy T-Mobile, Son’s interest in buttering up the deregulation-friendly incoming president is obvious.
With a whopping $100 billion to point toward hot developments in tech, it’s no surprise that a large chunk of the fund will be aimed at American tech companies. Now, through Apple, a sliver of the international fund will originate stateside as well.
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