SOFTBANK WON’T POUR $100M INTO IPHONE RI­VAL

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS -

SoftBank Group Corp. scrapped a planned $100 mil­lion in­vest­ment in a smart­phone startup founded by the cre­ator of Google’s An­droid soft­ware, partly be­cause of the Ja­panese in­vestor’s in­creas­ingly close re­la­tion­ship with Ap­ple Inc., ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

The planned in­vest­ment would have val­ued the startup, Es­sen­tial Prod­ucts Inc., at $1 bil­lion, th­ese peo­ple say, a lofty amount for a com­pany that has yet to sell a prod­uct in one of tech­nol­ogy’s most cut­throat in­dus­tries.

The episode is a win­dow into the un­pre­dictable in­vest­ing style of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, who is set to en­hance his po­si­tion as one of the tech in­dus­try’s most pow­er­ful in­vestors with his $100 bil­lion tech­fo­cused Vi­sion Fund. That mam­moth fund is ex­pected to launch as early as this month.

In Jan­uary, Ap­ple agreed to com­mit $1 bil­lion to the Vi­sion Fund. Though Ap­ple didn’t block the Es­sen­tial deal, ac­cord­ing to the peo­ple, its in­vest­ment com­pli­cated SoftBank’s in­ter­est in a com­pet­ing smart­phone com­pany.

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