SOFTBANK WON’T POUR $100M INTO IPHONE RIVAL
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.