SoftBank to invest US$1 billion in Latin America in 2020

Mar 18, 2020

SoftBank is one unpredictable venture capital (VC) firm. Less than a month ago, a rep on behalf of the Japanese conglomerate stated that it would be focused on loaning startups. A few weeks later and now it’s saying something rather different.

In a press meeting in Argentina, Andrés Freire, Managing Partner for SoftBank’s Southern Cone region stated that the VC is now looking for startups in e-commerce, healthcare, and it’s still interested in fintechs. But the executive didn’t specify whether these fintechs provide loaning services.

Moreover, Freire also said SoftBank wants startups that use artificial intelligence (AI) technology for food-related businesses.

Likewise, the VC has its eyes peeled for startups from Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina.

For the region of Latin America, the VC giant plans to invest US$1 billion this year. So don’t expect the SoftBank-craze at Contxto to stop anytime soon.

SoftBank’s ongoing plans

Freire dished out even more deets as to its current prospect investments. The executive stated that SoftBank is “paying special attention” to one in Chile, one in Peru, and two Brazilian startups.

I’m no mindreader. But given SoftBank’s interest in AI and foodtech, my guess is it’s in dealings with NotCo from Chile. Last time this startup raised equity was in March of last year for US$30 million. So perhaps it is time for a little more funding?

In Peru, I’m keeping an eye on fintech Culqi. The versatility of its payment solutions has a lot of potential.

As for the Brazilian candidates… I’d guess it’s looking to invest once again in fintech Creditas. It fits SoftBank’s prior interest in loaning startups and this fintech has been growing at a steady clip increasing its product offerings. 

A Brazilian foodtech experimenting with AI is iFoodSoftBank hasn’t invested in this startup before and it’s already reached unicorn status. So I’m not certain that’s where funding is headed. But it is on my list of startups to watch.

This is all just speculation on my part and (as usual) we’ll have to wait and see.

Related article: Creditas formalizes US$231 million from SoftBank

Learning a lesson?

Certainly, the WeWork debacle and the latest hiccups by some of its portfolio companies throughout the world have given the venture giant a lot to think about for its current search.

On the one hand, Freire said, “we’re looking for companies that can become unicorns to help them scale up.”

And on the other, the Managing Partner also declared, “we are focused on investing in companies that could achieve long-term profitability.”

Ultimately, the VC understands it’s all about balance.

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