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Softbank is reshaping tech in a massive way. Here's how it became so big

Key Points
  • SoftBank is reshaping Silicon Valley and the entire tech industry.
  • The Japanese company is investing billions of dollars in tech companies.
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What is Softbank?

One of the biggest power players in Silicon Valley is based about 5,000 miles away from California.

Softbank, the massive Japanese conglomerate, started as a software distributor in the 1980s, grew into a telecom giant and now spans telecommunications, e-commerce, finance, technology services, semiconductor design, media and marketing, robotics and even baseball.

Last year, Softbank invested in more than half of the top 10 biggest investments in VC-backed start-ups, including WeWork, Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart, and ride-hailing giants Didi Chuxing, Grab and Ola.

SoftBank's Vision Fund is the biggest technology investment fund in history. While the $100 billion fund is primarily backed by Softbank, it also includes massive investments from Apple, Qualcomm, Sharp and the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.