Mapbox closes $164M financing

Masayoshi Son’s Grand Plan for SoftBank’s $100 Billion Vision Fund

New York Times
By Katie Benner
October 12, 2017

11SOFTBANK-1-superJumboEric Gun­der­sen, chief exec­u­tive of Map­box, met in July with Masayoshi Son, who led a $164 mil­lion invest­ment in Map­box that was announced on Tues­day.
Jason Henry for The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — When Eric Gun­der­sen, the chief exec­u­tive of a map­ping start-​​up called Map­box, met Masayoshi Son, the head of the Japan­ese con­glom­er­ate Soft­Bank, in late July, he expected to have to sell Mr. Son on what made Map­box important.

But Mr. Son, 60, did not need to be con­vinced that Mapbox’s tech­nol­ogy — which pow­ers Lyft dri­vers and com­pa­nies like Snap and Mas­ter­card — had value. After a whirl­wind courtship, Mr. Son’s nearly $100 bil­lion Vision Fund, which Soft­Bank unveiled last Octo­ber with money from Saudi Ara­bia and oth­ers, led a $164 mil­lion invest­ment in Map­box that was announced on Tuesday.

In the process, Mr. Son also explained his grand plan for deploy­ing the Vision Fund to Mr. Gun­der­sen. The Japan­ese bil­lion­aire said he believed robots would inex­orably change the work force and machines would become more intel­li­gent than peo­ple, an event referred to as the “Sin­gu­lar­ity.” As a result, Mr. Son told Mr. Gun­der­sen, he is on a mis­sion to own pieces of all the com­pa­nies that may under­pin the global shifts brought on by arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence to trans­porta­tion, food, work, med­i­cine and finance.

For Masa, his vision is not just about pre­dic­tions like the Sin­gu­lar­ity, which has got­ten a lot of hype,” Mr. Gun­der­sen said. “He under­stands that we’ll need a mas­sive amount of data to get us to a future that’s more depen­dent on machines and robotics.”

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