SoftBank leads US$502m in­vest­ment in UK startup

New Straits Times - - Business / World -

LON­DON: SoftBank Group Corp is lead­ing a US$502 mil­lion (RM2.18 bil­lion) in­vest­ment in Im­prob­a­ble Worlds Ltd, a vir­tual re­al­ity (VR) startup, in one of the United King­dom’s largest ven­ture cap­i­tal deals.

The val­u­a­tion wasn’t dis­closed. But SoftBank is buy­ing a non-con­trol­ling stake, which would mean Im­prob­a­ble is worth at least US$1.04 bil­lion. The deal would rank as the fifth-largest UK ven­ture in­vest­ment in the past decade, said Bloomberg data.

Sil­i­con Val­ley ven­ture cap­i­tal firm An­dreessen Horowitz, Hong Kong-based ven­ture firm Hori­zon Ven­tures and Sin­ga­pore’s Te­masek Hold­ings, which par­tic­i­pated in a US$22 mil­lion in­vest­ment round in Im­prob­a­ble in March 2015, are also com­mit­ting new funds. The startup cre­ates vir­tual worlds for gam­ing and mas­sive-scale sim­u­la­tions of the real world.

“Im­prob­a­ble is build­ing break­through tech­nolo­gies that are be­com­ing vi­tal and valu­able plat­forms for the global gam­ing in­dus­try,” said SoftBank man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of in­vest­ments Deep Nishar.

Be­yond gam­ing, Nishar said SoftBank be­lieved Im­prob­a­ble’s sim­u­la­tion tech­nol­ogy could be used to help ex­plore dis­eases, im­prove cities, un­der­stand economies and solve other com­plex prob­lems.

The in­vest­ment comes as the Ja­panese multi­na­tional is fi­nal­is­ing its US$100 bil­lion Vi­sion Fund, with back­ers in­clud­ing Ap­ple Inc and Saudi Ara­bia. Bloomberg

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