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Angel Investor (Individual)

Investments

5

Portfolio Exits

1

About Taizo Son

Taizo Son (孫泰蔵) is an angel investor.

Headquarters Location

Japan

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Latest Taizo Son News

Mistletoe grows up; new αFund seeks to raise up $300m-$400m for positive impact investments

Jan 31, 2024

Mistletoe grows up; new αFund seeks to raise up $300m-$400m for positive impact investments 31/01/2024 by Yeoh Siew Hoon Fund started by Taizo Son and Atsushi Tarai buys SoftBank Ventures, aims to build ecosystem of  “like-minded investors and founders” After eight years of running the global seed stage innovation driven impact vehicle, Mistletoe, as a family fund, co-founders Atsushi Taira and Taizo Son are ready to take it to the next level – they are looking to raise between $300m and $400m from private markets for the first round of their new, renamed fund to continue its mission of positive impact investments. To prepare for this next move, the duo acquired SoftBank Ventures Asia last year and will rename it SBVA corp from February 1. With the acquisition, it will form “The Edgeof”, a Singapore-based holding entity with multiple funds – αFund, which will inherit Mistletoe’s 170 startups in which it’s invested roughly $400m, and SBVA, which will continue its existing investments. JP Lee, CEO of SBVA, will join Atsushi, who will be chairman of the new entity, and Taizo in heading TheEdgeOf. Atsushi Tarai: “We want to bring global startups to make the leapfrog effect in Asian countries. Emerging markets are the best place to deploy new tech and we want to facilitate the exchange of innovation between developed and emerging markets.” Speaking to WiT in Singapore, Atsushi said αFund had already secured $100m in prospective funds. “We are targeting strategic investors, who are always looking for next generation innovations and revenues.” Atsushi, who’s spent his entire career in tech investments and was SVP of Softbank Group for over 12 years, before he became involved in Mistletoe with Taizo Son (Masa Son’s brother), believes the time is right for Mistletoe to finally take flight, plus “a recession is always a good time to be bold”. “We have proven positive impact and positive returns are not contradictory” He said that when Mistletoe started with its mission of investing in positive impact businesses eight years ago, “nobody cared about sustainability and positive impact.” This was why Mistletoe went for a family office structure. “To make radical investments, it was hard to get private funds and we didn’t want to use other people’s money. “Now it’s common sense. Covid was a big trigger. After the pandemic, people think more about the future than just making money. We see more funds being allocated to positive impact investments now. What was niche before is now mainstream.” He added that after eight years, Mistletoe has shown it is possible to show positive impact and huge ROI. “A lot of the 170 startups we invested in were experimental, unique, high risk and some were too early. But more than 50 are growing and our failure ratio is less than 20%. And we have between five and 10 unicorns and candidates. “Investors are now convinced that positive impact and positive returns are not contradictory.” The 170 startups in its portfolio are more agenda-driven than geo-driven and most are deep tech. The biggest success story is Zipline, a fully autonomous drone delivery startup. Said Atsushi, “It’s an interesting story. They started in Silicon Valley in 2014 but found their first market in Rwanda in 2016 when they found their niche in delivering blood packs and vaccines to remote areas. Before, it would take four hours to bring one backpack of vaccines to a remote hospital but with drones, it took 15 minutes. They’ve saved more than 500,000 people with their delivery. “They nearly faced bankruptcy in the US but after the use case in Rwanda, they are now back operating in the US and have a partnership with Walmart. Eighty percent of Walmart products can fit into their drones. “We’re excited by this real case of a super innovation developed in a developed market, which was deployed in a developing market, and is now returning to the US.” Atsushi recalled that when they first saw Zipline’s pitch deck, “we saw it as more than a toy. There was a one-pager that convinced us – that they wanted to save people. And we knew the founder (Keller Rinaudo Cliffton) from before.” Mistletoe invested about $500,000 in an angel round and since then, has invested more than $10m in Zipline. “We want to bring global startups to make the leapfrog effect in Asian countries” αFund’s criteria for investments include cross-border expansion, breaking the tradeoffs by AI/deeptech, leap-frogging changes for various industry sectors and positive impacts and excellent ROIs. Atsushi said it would be more focused on the mid to late stage. “We want to bring global startups to make the leapfrog effect in Asian countries. Emerging markets are the best place to deploy new tech and we want to facilitate the exchange of innovation between developed and emerging markets.” Its acquisition of SBVA, which recently raised a new $150m round, will enable it to scale with a full team of 50. From its Singapore headquarters, it aims to build a pan-Asian community of like-minded investors and founders to create a positive impact ecosystem. “We want to build an AI-driven platform to connect people who are interested in pan-Asian expansion.” “AI will be the ticket to play” Atsushi himself made a personal decision to do something more meaningful with his time around 2015. He had met Taizo Son a few years earlier and the two had become good friends. “When I decided to change my job in 2015, I was ready to do something different. I was tired of handling big corporate stuff, gaming, ecommerce; tired of the usual Internet stuff and he and I agreed we should do something totally different, that would be meaningful for the next generation and be good for the future, driven by innovation and new, deep tech. “Those were the three boxes we wanted to tick. We were pleasantly surprised to find a lot of deep tech, social impact, innovation out there.” And now with Generative AI sweeping the world, Atsushi believes this is another tech innovation that will enable Mistletoe’s original mission to truly take flight. “I saw the first impact of the Internet. When it emerged, people were so sceptical. They said, it was rubbish, inaccurate information and not for business. Now we understand, without Internet, there is no business, no startup. The same is true of AI. We will all use it by default, whatever industry we are in, and AI will be the ticket to play.” Said Atsushi, who was involved in the first wave of AI 30 years ago, when he wrote his master’s thesis on AI applied to industrial robotic design, “I am so excited by what’s happening. What’s been discussed has been realised. What’s new now is the scale, the data gathering.” He expects financial services to be the first leapfrog industry, followed by deep tech in materials discovery. And travel will not be far behind. “Travel was the first to adopt Internet innovation, e-commerce’s starting point was travel. Travel will need to utilise more AI to help travellers when they go to unknown places. For example, I would like to have a travel agent always in my pocket to support me in unknown places.” You might like

Taizo Son Investments

5 Investments

Taizo Son has made 5 investments. Their latest investment was in AnotherBall as part of their Angel on May 16, 2023.

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Taizo Son Investments Activity

investments chart

Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

5/16/2023

Angel

AnotherBall

$2.2M

Yes

3

6/6/2022

Angel

Subscribe to see more

$99M

Subscribe to see more

10

3/6/2019

Angel

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10

5/25/2018

Seed VC

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$99M

Subscribe to see more

10

3/29/2017

Seed VC - III

Subscribe to see more

$99M

Subscribe to see more

10

Date

5/16/2023

6/6/2022

3/6/2019

5/25/2018

3/29/2017

Round

Angel

Angel

Angel

Seed VC

Seed VC - III

Company

AnotherBall

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Amount

$2.2M

$99M

$99M

$99M

New?

Yes

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Co-Investors

Sources

3

10

10

10

10

Taizo Son Portfolio Exits

1 Portfolio Exit

Taizo Son has 1 portfolio exit. Their latest portfolio exit was Funderbeam on May 04, 2023.

Date

Exit

Companies

Valuation
Valuations are submitted by companies, mined from state filings or news, provided by VentureSource, or based on a comparables valuation model.

Acquirer

Sources

5/4/2023

Acq - Fin

$99M

6

Date

5/4/2023

Exit

Acq - Fin

Companies

Valuation

$99M

Acquirer

Sources

6

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