SoftBank Capital managing partner Ron Fisher recently said he’s open to deploying some of the $100 billion fund he helps manage in the Midwest, including Kansas City.
In an interview with VentureBeat, Fisher discussed Tokyo-based SoftBank’s bold plans to dish some $50 billion in venture capital to U.S. firms and thereby create 50,000 jobs. SoftBank is the parent company to Overland Park-based Sprint, one of the Kansas City area’s largest employers.
Fisher said during a live event that there are no geographical limitations on where the fund’s money can go.
“We don’t mind where the companies are,” Fisher said in the report. “So if we find a great AI company, for example, in Austin, we’ll put money behind that. Because we don’t have a natural bias to only investing in the Silicon Valley area, we’re looking along a global basis.”
Softbank and Saudi Arabia’s largest sovereign wealth fund made a big splash in May when its tech venture fund reached $100 billion. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son also pledged in December that about half of that fund would end up in the United States.
Fisher, who’s also the vice chairman of Sprint, was asked about the advantages of Sprint being located in the Kansas City area.
“I never visited Kansas City before we made the investment in Sprint,” he said. “But it’s turned out to be a very good place to do what we’re doing around building a mobile operator.”
Fisher said that Kansas City tends to be a community in which people want to stay. He also noted that the City of Fountains’ downtown has grown and that it’s helped Pinsight Media — a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sprint — to attract talent.
“People, once they move to Kansas City, don’t want to move out,” he said. “It’s a good schooling system, affordable housing, and now more of a technology ecosystem. The whole downtown area of Kansas City has been totally revitalized. A lot of small companies are moving in. Google Fiber is in Kansas City. It’s become a good ecosystem for Sprint, being able to attract talent. We have a marketing group based downtown (Pinsight Media+). That’s been very good for us.”
The $100 billion fund already has made a host of massive investments, including most recently London-based virtual reality firm Improbable Worlds.