SoftBank has been in talks to invest as much as $300 million in the dog-walking app Wag, according to people familiar with the conversations.
It's a concrete example of how SoftBank is transforming financing in tech.
Wag was originally looking to raise $100 million in this latest round, the sources tell Recode, but it ballooned to the $300 million neighborhood when SoftBank expressed interest. One person said Wag had already received an investment offer from a top venture capital firm on the $100 million round before SoftBank came in.
The startup had already raised $40 million just eight months ago — an investment the company said would allow it to expand into new cities. It's unclear why the company would need to raise so much more money less than a year after a previous fundraising round.
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The SoftBank deal has not yet closed, and so the total investment size from SoftBank's Vision Fund could change. The valuations could not be learned. And the talks could, as always, fall apart.
But investors across Silicon Valley have been humming about the round for weeks since it shows the power of SoftBank, led by CEO Masayoshi Son, to reshape the funding landscape and amounts in Silicon Valley. SoftBank has been behind almost all of the biggest financings in Silicon Valley, from Uber to WeWork to DoorDash just last month.
SoftBank and Wag both declined to comment. Axios reported on the SoftBank talks.
The dog-walking company, in a fierce competition with the similar service Rover, just last April raised around $40 million in a deal that, including the cash, valued it at around $200 million, according to PitchBook. Previous investors include General Catalyst and Sherpa Capital.
Wag functions as a marketplace that pairs dog owners with available walkers in their neighborhood. The Los Angeles-based company, run by Josh Viner, was founded in 2014. The company has also been mired in a drama involving a missing dog, sparking concerns over the service's safety.
—By Theodore Schleifer, Recode.net.
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