Some of the most valuable tech companies in the world right now might be a lot less valuable if it wasn't for a single investor — SoftBank's Vision Fund.
The $100 billion Vision Fund has poured money into TikTok parent ByteDance, ride-hailing firm Uber, and office-sharing firm WeWork. ByteDance is now the most valuable private tech startup in the world, a title also once held by Uber before it floated.
SoftBank's critics question how sustainable it is to flood fast-growing companies with hundreds of millions of dollars. That criticism looks pertinent as its portfolio firm WeWork lurches towards an IPO with a lower-than-expected valuation and as SoftBank's Uber stake goes underwater. There are additional questions about SoftBank's major backer, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, after the appalling murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Even so, there appear to be few startups bold enough to turn down SoftBank's cash. As Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi put it last year, per a report from Vox: "Rather than having their capital cannon facing me, I'd rather have their capital cannon behind me, all right?"
Yet how startups pitch SoftBank's investors and partners in London, Asia, and the US is a bit of a mystery. Here's everything we've gleaned on what it takes to raise those millions.