SoftBank will cash out on billions of dollars following the first divestment of its technology-oriented Vision Fund, with the company being among Flipkart investors who agreed to sell their stakes in the Indian e-commerce platform to Walmart earlier this month. The Japanese tech giant traditionally holds on to its investments for much longer but has now decided to cash out less than a year following its decision to back Flipkart with $2.5 billion. SoftBank's stake is now believed to be worth some $4 billion, its Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son said earlier this month. The exact terms of the sale weren't disclosed and aren't expected to be publicized in the future but even the most conservative predictions claim SoftBank made over $1 billion on Flipkart since August of 2017.
The company's move is still deemed surprising by many analysts given how its average investment runs for 13.5 years, whereas the Flipkart exit was agreed after less than nine months. Walmart is paying $16 billion for roughly 77-percent of Flipkart in total, with eBay also being among the parties who are cashing out on the deal. Amazon is understood to have launched a bid for the Indian online retailer earlier this spring as well, though most likely with the sole purpose of driving up the purchase price for Walmart, one of its largest U.S. rivals.
Following its official launch in early 2017, the Vision Fund already pumped some $30 billion into a wide variety of technology startups all over the world, having primarily focused on unicorns, i.e. private companies with valuations starting at $1 billion. Mr. Son recently signaled he's planning to kickstart a new, even larger fund that's meant to continue fueling innovation in a broad range of technology segments. Outside of such initiatives, SoftBank Group itself continues to invest in companies on its own, with its last such move being a $9.3 billion purchase of Uber stock that provided it with roughly 20-percent of the ride-hailing startup late last year.