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Marcelo Claure Joins Paul Judge In An Agreement To Acquire Stake In The $100M Opportunity Fund 1 From SoftBank Group

Understanding the resilience required to raise capital can create a high level of empathy for upcoming founders. Before becoming chairman of SoftBank’s Open Opportunity Fund, a fund for Black- and Latino-founded tech companies, there was a time when Dr. Paul Judge faced countless rejections while looking to raise money for his cybersecurity company, Pindrop Security.

Dec 19, 2023

SoftBank-Founded Opportunity Fund Appoints Dr. Paul Judge As Chairman, Launches Fund 2

There is an endless pool of diverse talent seeking opportunities to thrive, which means SoftBank Group (SoftBank) is taking no breaks in its commitment to provide access to Black- and Latinx-led startups.

May 18, 2023

SoftBank Leads $400M Funding Round For Nigerian Fintech Startup Opay Bringing Its Value to $2B

Softbank is betting big on Africa for the first time ever with a hefty investment in Nigerian fintech startup Opay. Bloomberg reports that the financial giant’s SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led a $400 million funding round for the fintech company, now bringing its value to $2 billion. Others that participated in the round include Sequoia Capital China, Redpoint China, Source Code Capital, Softbank Ventures Asia, DragonBall Capital and 3W Capital. Opay — a one-stop payment platform for consumers’ everyday needs founded in 2018 — previously raised two funding rounds back in 2019 with a $50 million Series A and $120 million Series B, TechCrunch shares. According to an emailed statement from OPay Chief Executive Officer Yahui Zhou, the hope is that the new funding will help the company “be the power that helps emerging markets reach a faster economic development.” “We believe our investment will help the company extend its offering to adjacent markets,” said Kentaro Matsui — a SoftBank Group...

Aug 23, 2021

SoftBank Backs Ambitious Effort to Upskill 10K Underserved Job-Seekers For Data Science Careers

Major corporations are beginning to launch more initiatives geared toward upskilling underserved and overlooked workers in America. The latest to join the movement is SoftBank Group International, who’s backing data science market leader Correlation One’s newest initiative. Today Correlation One announced that SoftBank is supporting their company’s Data Science for All / Empowerment (DS4A / Empowerment) program, a new ambitious effort designed to help prepare job-seekers from underserved communities to pursue data science careers. The program was designed to directly address the talent and equity gaps that exist in STEM fields, which have been historically closed off for many minority groups. This snowball gatekeeping-effect has lead to significant underrepresentation of women and non-white individuals in science, but Correlation One is now looking to reverse that. DS4A / Empowerment’s goal is to train at least 10,000 people from these underrepresented communities, prioritizing...

Feb 25, 2021

Softbank Creates $100M Fund for Businesses Led By POC

Black-owned and minority-owned businesses are finally getting the funding they need. This past Wednesday, Softbank announced that it is launching a $100 million investment fund solely for entrepreneurs of color and startups led by minorities, Forbes reports . According to reports from CNBC , Softbank created this fund — in under 24 hours — as a response to widespread protests across the country sparked by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others. CNBC also reported this is one of the largest funds created in light of the recent social unrest. This initiative is also motivated by the minority-owned businesses that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. “The Opportunity Growth Fund will be the biggest fund providing capital to black Americans and people of color,” said COO Marcelo Claure in a written letter to employees. “We have to put money behind it, set plans, and hold ourselves accountable.” Funding for minority-owned businesses has...

Jun 5, 2020

SoftBank Emerge and WeWork Labs Launch Diverse Founders Incubator Program

SoftBank Investment Advisers and WeWork Labs have announced their Emerge Program for diverse entrepreneurs. The program is open to tech startups with at least one founder who is Black, Latinx, Native American, female/non-binary, a veteran, refugee, and/or LGBTQ+. The program aims to enhance the innovation of tech by incorporating founders from all backgrounds thus supporting companies that represent an inclusive world. The customized eight-week program will provide startups with educational sessions, access to SoftBank’s portfolio companies and professionals as well as WeWork’s global labs. Startup participation is equity-free and will also provide dedicated desk space and a WeWork Labs manager for the duration of the program. The program will allow founders to showcase their business to key investors and SoftBank Advisors at a showcase event on June 18. Other requirements for eligible participants include having a working product at Seed or Series A stage, at least one founder who...

Mar 26, 2020

Zume Pizza Forced to Layoff Hundreds in Wake of Failed Fundraising Round

Zume Pizza — the billion-dollar robotic pizza company founded in 2015 by Julia Collins and Alex Garden — has reportedly shut down its robotic pizza-making operations and laid off 360 employees , which amounts to over 50 percent of its workforce, according to CNBC. As reported by TechCrunch, this is just the latest in a string of layoffs that have occurred across SoftBank’s portfolio of companies over the past few months. In 2018, SoftBank — investor in the embattled WeWork and Uber — funded Zume to the tune of $375 million. In November 2019, it was announced that Zume would be entering another fundraising round at a $4 billion valuation, according to Vox. However, it appears that the latest round of fundraising didn’t go as planned. On Jan. 6, Reuters reported a source close to Zume indicated that the company planned to layoff 80 percent of its staff. While best-known for its delivery pizza service which featured pies made by robots, not humans, Zume has actually diversified its...

Jan 15, 2020