Kereitsu of modern times, Softbank has pioneered with its Vision Fund an Innovation at scale strategy powered by an agressive venture investments. It has thus opened an alternative way to GAFAM’s model that relied primarily on an organic technology model amplified by some bolt-on M&A.
SoftBank’s transformation case is in our view particularly interesting at a time when the European startups and innovation ecosystems need to catch-up with their American and Asian and many Corporates are entering in « coopetition » with Investment funds, launching or reinventing their ventures set-up in order to address their innovation at scale challenge.
For sure, like all disruptors Softbank has been somewhat extreme in its approach (especially in terms of risk aversion, fundraising, inflationary valuation) and not always exemplary in its practices (CSR, governance, financial disclosure...). Nevertheless we are witnessing some interesting read-across for European players, especially as vision, risk taking and entrepreneurial approaches are in our view critical success factors in the new economy.
Thus one of our wishes for 2020 is that some European Softbank may emerge and create a new way for innovation at scale.