SoftBank Group Corp. continus its investments in the technology sector. The company is leading a $502 million investment in Improbable Worlds Ltd., a London-based virtual reality startup, and it has seperately agreed to invest $5 billion in China's Didi Chuxings.
British technology start-up Improbable Worlds Ltd. specializes in virtual simulation. The company said it has raised $502 million (57 billion yen) from SoftBank Group Corp., which gives the Japanese company a non-controlling stake in Improbable.
Last July, Softbank also purchased chip designer Arm Holdings for 24.3 billion pounds, just weeks after the UK voted to leave the European Union.
Improbable uses cloud-based distributed computing to enable the creation of virtual worlds for use in games and massive-scale simulations of the real world.
"Improbable is building breakthrough technologies that are becoming vital and valuable platforms for the global gaming industry," Deep Nishar, managing director of investments at SoftBank, said in a statement. Beyond gaming, Nishar said, SoftBank believed Improbable's simulation technology could be used to help explore disease, improve cities, understand economies and solve other complex problems. Nishar is joining Improbable's board.
Improbable said the SoftBank funds will be used to develop the technology and will enable the company to accelerate recruitment in its London and San Francisco offices.
Seperately, SoftBank confirmed it has agreed to invest $5 billion in China's Didi Chuxing ride-hailing firm.
SoftBank has a history investing in telecommunications and game companies and is now trying to be at the forefront of a host of emerging technologies. The company's leadership has been staking SoftBank's future on the growth of machine learning, where software is able to learn from data and experience, and the Internet of Things.
The Japanese company will soon launch a $100 billion technology fund as telecoms services markets mature. It has already announced plans to invest at least $25 billion over the next five years in the fund, which would be one of the world's largest private equity investors.