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.
What is Softbank?
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.