Venture

$100B Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? $115B.

Morning Markets: The Vision Fund wants to get even Vision Fundier. 

The Vision Fund is 70 percent of the way through $100 billion, and it will need more capital to keep investing at its current pace.

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There are a few ways that the investment vehicle can get that money. The first method that we heard about concerned the Vision Fund raising another fund. Call it the Vision Fund II. It was also supposed to be $100 billion. And at that time, there was even talk about more than two Vision Funds!

Such Vision. Very Fund.

Anyway, it’s not clear that there’s another $100 billion waiting on the shelf that isn’t a Saudi-export, which means that the Vision Fund I, Masayoshi Son’s current weapon in the Capital Wars, might be the Vision Fund Only. Except that according to Bloomberg, there’s another way to get more money to fund Son’s vision:

The Japanese conglomerate […] is in talks with investors to add as much as $15 billion more to its already-massive fund, said people familiar with the discussions.

This is great news for the tech ecosystem, which has benefited from the Vision Fund’s beneficence to date.

If that doesn’t make sense, let me help. The Vision Fund has shown up around the world with big checks and even bigger ideas. This has led to enormous sums being put to work by companies who found themselves at once stacked with cash, and stuck growing into a new valuation that might have gone up by billions of dollars in a single go.

For founders, this has proven to be a mostly positive setup. Big checks for companies willing to accept them provide rare chances at hyper-growth and potentially market-dominating financial positions. At the same time, other firms have stepped up their late-stage deal-making (data here) and big checks are piling up (more here). So the Vision Fund effect has been to accelerate the late-stage trend we’ve seen for some time in venture, even as some unicorns finally head toward public offerings.

Considering the potential for another $15 billion, it’s not clear how far the cash will go. That’s just a few checks for the Vision Fund.

Even getting that $15 billion could be tricky. Bloomberg notes that things from “bank loans” to “persuading state-backed investors in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi to waive their rights to debt repayments” are in the cards. The Vision Fund is already exotic and complicated; the new capital, if raised, could make it even more so.

I can’t tell if the Vision Fund is the future, or more a symptom or cause of today’s tech sector. But what’s obvious is that the Fund, its backers, and its leaders are optimists, certain that tech’s innovative pace will continue to lucrative result in the short- and medium-terms. We’ll see.

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