面对软银巨额投资,有些Fintech创企似乎并不买账 - 互联网金融门户 未央网

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面对软银巨额投资,有些Fintech创企似乎并不买账

国际资讯投融资

面对软银巨额投资,有些Fintech创企似乎并不买账

软银巨额投资基金愿景基金(Vision Found)2017年曾表示,其最小投资额为1亿美元。而在金融科技领域,其投资规模似乎翻了一番。

近日,有六家金融科技企业管理人员表示,愿景基金称该基金正在寻找可在一轮或多轮投资中注资2亿美金的项目。

知情人士向CNBC透露,愿景基金近期打算对房屋在线交易平台Opendoor投资约2亿美元,但双方尚未达成协议。《华尔街日报》上月报道显示,房屋在线交易平台Opendoor正以20亿美元的估值寻求投资。

Opendoor发言人拒绝置评。

而软银发言人在邮件声明也表示其投资策略不会因此发生改变。该声明中写道:"软银希望募资至少至少1亿美元、处于快速发展期的企业合作,助其实现宏伟目标,我们不会针对不同金融科技企业设置不同的资金门槛。”

2016年末,软银CEO孙正义宣布成立愿景基金会,该基金资金量高达1000亿美元,因此不得不为投资额设限。

此前,愿景基金曾先后对优步、滴滴出行等全球叫车企业投资达数十亿美元,同时对其他领域创企投资额也达到亿级别,如遛狗软件Wag(投资3亿美元)、外卖软件DoorDash(领投其5.35亿投资轮)及虚拟现实设备生产商Improbable(领投5.02亿美元投资轮)。

愿景基金CEO拉吉夫·米斯拉(Rajeev Misra)二月曾对CNBC表示该基金已投资30家企业,未来将拓展至70到100家。

金融科技对愿景基金来说是项良机。因为资金对进行借贷与保险业务来说至关重要,且新兴企业在诸多领域均可与发展缓慢的大型银行一较高下。愿景基金还与消费者及商业借贷机构进行了洽谈。

软银已押注金融科技市场。2017年12月,愿景基金对房地产技术企业Compass投资4.5亿美元。2018年初,该基金对面向小企业信贷服务公司Kabbage投资2.5亿美元。2015年软银领投了校园贷企业SoFi的10亿美元的投资轮。SoFi相关交易完成于愿景基金成立前,而针对Kabbage的投资则是由软银集团独立完成的。

着眼大局

愿景基金在推动企业家拓展视野方面的成绩已经广为人知,比如开拓新市场、迅速招募人才以击败竞争对手等。CNBC采访过的每一位高管均表示,该基金的策略之一便是询问企业家们:"如果你有2亿美元,你会做什么?"有时其假设金额可能更大。

虽然许多创企欢迎资本流入,然而许多传统风险投资者及有限合伙人却仍对愿景基金有所忧虑。

首先,企业会选择从软银集团融资,而非上市或将公司出售给规模更大的竞争对手。这将拖长早期投资者及员工变现时间。比如软银集团通过从Uber和WeWork投资者手中购买股份而放宽了资本限制,而未来这个策略可能会变得更为常见。

其次,风险投资者还担心软银集团在某些交易中使用债务并附带条款,若获资企业增长速度放缓就可能陷入困境。

金融服务企业给出了拒绝软银集团投资的理由。有些企业表示其更倾向于近期上市;一些企业希望从其他投资者处获得更优越的条件;另一些企业则只是因为不知如何利用此巨额投资。

软银集团并不是首个在硅谷引起轰动的巨型投资者。过去十年,Tiger Global等投资企业、普信集团与贝莱德集团等互惠基金、以及DST Global等海外企业均大举押注金融科技。高盛与摩根士丹利等金融巨头自然也不例外。

然而沙特阿拉伯主权财富基金大举注资,但资金额达1000亿美元的愿景基金却与上述投资不同。美国全国风险投资协会(National Venture Capital Association)数据显示,去年整个美国的风投行业共投资840亿美元,同比增长了22%,为本世纪初互联网泡沫破裂以来投资额之最。

SoftBank's massive Vision Fund said in 2017 that its minimum check size is $100 million. But in the financial-technology market, the number appears to be twice as big.

Executives at a half-dozen fintech companies said the Vision Fund has told them it's looking to do deals where it can put at least $200 million to work over one or multiple investment rounds. These people asked not to be named because their talks with SoftBank are confidential.

The Vision Fund recently attempted to invest about that much in online real estate company Opendoor, but the two parties didn't come to terms, sources familiar with the deal told CNBC. According to a report last month from the Wall Street Journal, Opendoor, which helps people buy and sell homes, is raising money at a $2 billion valuation.

An Opendoor spokesperson declined to comment. A spokesperson for SoftBank said in an emailed statement that there's been no change to the investment strategy.

"We partner with fast-growing companies that seek at least $100M to help achieve their ambitious goals," the statement said. "We don't have a different capital threshold for fintech companies."

The Vision Fund, which SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son announced in late 2016, has no choice but to write huge checks because it's operating out of a $100 billion pool of capital.

It's put billions of dollars to work in ride-hailing companies across the globe, including Uber and China's Didi Chuxing, and hundreds of millions into start-ups in many other categories, including dog-walking company Wag (it invested $300 million), food delivery provider DoorDash (it led a $535 million round), and virtual reality infrastructure provider Improbable (it led a $502 million round).

Rajeev Misra, CEO of the Vision Fund, told CNBC in February that the firm had invested in 30 companies and that it would eventually reach 70 to 100.

Fintech is a big opportunity for the Vision Fund, because cash is critical in building out lending and underwriting operations and there are plenty of areas where emerging companies can take on giant slow-moving banks. Consumer and business lenders are among the other types of companies that have held talks with the Vision Fund.

SoftBank has already placed some bets in the market. In December 2017, the Vision Fund invested $450 million in Compass, a real estate technology company. Earlier in the year, the fund put $250 million in Kabbage, which makes loans to small businesses. And in 2015, SoftBank led a $1 billion investment in SoFi, a provider of education and personal loans. The SoFi deal came before the formation of the Vision Fund, while the investment in Kabbage officially came from SoftBank Group.

Think bigger

"We invested in Kabbage because their unique automated lending platform leverages open data networks and best positions them to empower small businesses around the world," David Thevenon, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said at the time. Thevenon is part of the vision fund, and multiple fintech executives told CNBC that they've held discussions with him.

The Vision Fund is quickly becoming known for pushing entrepreneurs to think bigger, whether that means expanding into new markets or hiring rapidly to beat the competition. Every executive who spoke to CNBC for this story said one of the firm's tactics is to ask, "What would you do right now if you had $200 million?" In some cases, the number was even bigger.

While plenty of start-ups welcome the influx of capital, the Vision Fund has many traditional venture investors and their limited partners on edge.

One concern is that companies will choose to raise big rounds from SoftBank rather than going public or selling to a larger rival. That would extend the amount of time before earlier investors and employees can cash out. SoftBank has loosened some of the capital bottlenecks by buying shares from Uber and WeWork investors as part of those deals, a strategy that some investors predict will become more routine.

Venture capitalists also worry that SoftBank is using debt in some deals and coming in with terms that can end up leaving companies hamstrung if growth in their business slows.

Financial services companies that rejected SoftBank's money gave various reasons. Some said they'd prefer to go public in the near future. Others sought better terms from other investors, while some simply didn't know how they could put so much money to use.

SoftBank is not the first mega-investor to make a splash in Silicon Valley. Investment firms like Tiger Global, mutual fund companies such as T. Rowe Price and BlackRock and foreign firms like Russia's DST Global have made big tech bets over the past decade, as have financial conglomerates including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

But the $100 billion Vision Fund, which includes a hefty dose of cash from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, is a different beast. The entire U.S. venture industry invested $84 billion last year, a 22 percent increase from the prior year and the most for any year since the dot-com bubble of the early 2000s, according to the National Venture Capital Association.


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