By JON MEDVED
Nearly 30 years ago I met the legendary Masayoshi Son, now the Chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., when I was a young entrepreneur at a trade show in Barcelona. I was demonstrating Accent, an early multilingual word processor. I recall his broad smile and his sheer delight in the wonders of technology.
Since then I have closely followed his career and become a huge fan of the unbelievable organization that he has built at SoftBank, which has changed the world for all of us in technology. So it is with a great sense of personal satisfaction that we were able to announce today the new partnership between OurCrowd and Son-San’s SoftBank Vision Fund 2. It is an important moment for OurCrowd and an honor for me personally.
This investment marks a coming of age for OurCrowd, signaling our growing role in the global venture capital arena. It is also the start of a strategic partnership between OurCrowd and Softbank Investment Advisers to explore mutual investment opportunities. As a strategic investor with a global reach and a network of market-leading technology companies, SoftBank will be a pivotal partner in helping OurCrowd realize our vision of democratizing access to venture capital.
OurCrowd and SoftBank will also work together to evaluate market trends in a broad variety of sectors and support geographic expansion across our respective ecosystems.
The role of partners in the growth of companies cannot be overstated. We seek out potential partners for every startup in the OurCrowd portfolio, leveraging our global network of investors, mentors, multinationals and co-investors to help our companies build their business and succeed. Our new partnership with SoftBank is the latest in our growing list of strategic tie-ups: with Orix in Japan, Stifel in the US, Monash Private Capital in Australia, UOB in Singapore, Bangkok Bank in Thailand and LIP Ventures Boutique in Mexico. Each of them have provided important capital and had a profound impact on OurCrowd in multiple ways.
The agreement with SoftBank opens another chapter in this series of partnerships. It will enable us to extend yet more capital, leverage connections and deploy business collateral to help our portfolio companies grow and prosper faster and bigger.
The SoftBank Vision Fund is the world’s largest and leading technology-focused fund. We will work together on mutual deal sourcing, and together address the issue of scale in venture capital. SoftBank has already achieved considerable success in this area, which OurCrowd approaches by continuing to expand our fast-growing global network of 140,000 accredited investors. OurCrowd and SoftBank also share a vision of democratizing access to venture capital, making investment in private companies globally available.
True partnerships are based not just on common business interests, but on shared values. SoftBank has a well-earned reputation for supporting its entrepreneurs and portfolio companies through thick and thin. SoftBank provides strong financial backing for its companies and is closely involved in their development. SoftBank is deeply committed to technology and technological excellence and is in the vanguard of artificial intelligence, robotics, deep tech and other new sectors.
By joining the SoftBank family, OurCrowd is now working with the biggest pool of high-tech venture capital in the world, alongside the most exciting collection of startups, backed by the smartest money in the world, which comes from some of the largest sovereign wealth funds. Today’s announcement is not just about a major strategic investment in OurCrowd, it is about the potential benefits such a partnership brings to our portfolio.
SoftBank’s network of companies is unrivalled. By bringing OurCrowd’s companies closer to them we hope to create the opportunity for new ventures and increased business across all of our sectors.
Partners are critical for success, not just because of the finance, geographical distribution or market expansion they provide. Partners bring additional chemistry to the secret sauce that produces success.
Since OurCrowd began, our Business Development team has worked with hundreds of major multinationals all over the world. We have co-invested with many of them, creating strategic partnerships for our portfolio companies that have introduced many of them to major customers, vital expertise and new markets.
Success in high tech often involves small startups working in partnership with larger entities, up to and including huge multinationals. Each brings something special to the table. Startups bring fresh approaches, out-of-the-box thinking, new technology and boundless ambition. Larger, more established partners bring management experience, strategic depth, capital, manufacturing capacity, distribution networks and marketing know-how. Each provides elements that the other needs. The asymmetrical combination of these resources, talents and knowledge is often much greater than the sum of their parts.
Good customer relationships are also a form of partnership. The best customer relations are achieved not when one side buys what it wants from the other, but when both sides feel they have got the best deal with someone they trust, when both sides feel they have got real value from the relationship and that it’s a win-win. Companies that succeed at partnerships – with investors, suppliers, customers and collaborators – are companies primed for general business success.
Venture capital requires more than just passive stock picking. A good venture capitalist must add value to the companies in their portfolio. Investors who create these deeper relationships are poised for greater success.
(Read the full press release HERE)