Softbank, Giving Out Money Like Candy, Is the Biggest E-Commerce Investor Worldwide


Softbank is a company everyone in e-commerce should keep an eye on.

CNBC on the most recent Softbank news:

Online sports merchandise retailer Fanatics is the latest company to get a cash infusion from SoftBank, a source close to the matter told CNBC.

SoftBank and Fanatics are close to sealing a $1 billion deal, raising Fanatics’ valuation to $4.5 billion. The Wall Street Journal previously reported the news.

The NFL also invested about $95 million and Major League Baseball added $50 million earlier this year, according to the Journal.


The deal, which will come out of SoftBank’s $100 billion tech-focused Vision Fund, is expected to value Fanatics at around $4.5 billion, and increase the company’s total funding to around $1.8 billion. […]
Fanatics has built a business that it expects will generate $2.2 billion in revenue this year on the back of licensing deals with major American sports leagues and big collegiate programs that give it the right to sell — and in some cases manufacture — team jerseys and other apparel through its own sites and via the online shops of teams and leagues.

Fanatics is a fascinating case for how an online retailer can entrench itself into the industry it is working in.

But Softbank is the bigger story here: The Japanese company is shaping up to become not just a major investor in e-commerce companies, but by far the largest one worldwide regarding capital given out. (One can also easily argue they already are a major investor, see below.) The $100 billion tech fund Softbank leads provides the Japanese giant with a lot of cash for investing. Contrary to most other investors in a similar league, Softbank already has quite the experience in investing in online retail.

Softbank is the biggest stakeholder in India’s Snapdeal. Softbank also was the major force in, unsuccessfully, pushing Snapdeal to sell to Flipkart. Now that the merger between the two Indian online retailers is off the table for the time being, Softbank is mulling an investment in Flipkart as well:

SoftBank Vision Fund, the technology investor founded by Masayoshi Son, is in talks to invest directly in India’s Flipkart Online Services Pvt, according to people familiar with the matter, after talks to fold SoftBank-backed Snapdeal into Flipkart fell apart.

The fund is looking at putting between $1.5 billion and $2 billion into the largest Indian e-commerce operator within the next two months, said one of the people, asking to not be identified as the discussions are private. 

Even more, in May of this year, Softbank invested $1.4 billion in India’s Paytm, which is Alibaba’s Indian darling.

Softbank already has a strong e-commerce investment history. Bloomberg:

SoftBank has been an enthusiastic supporter of e-commerce in developing markets. The company’s investment in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. started with $20 million in 2000. Its stake in the Chinese company is now worth more than $100 billion.

In 2015, Softbank invested $1 billion in South-Korea’s Coupang. Softbank is also already an investor in Gilt Groupe and other online retailers.

Last year, Softbank bought ARM, the chip design company on whose designs (almost) all mobile CPUs are based on.

Other recent big investments by Softbank include Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing, Slack, Roomba-maker iRobot and ridesharing service Grab. Softbank has also bought robotics company Boston Dynamics from Alphabet and bought this year a $4 billion stake in GPU-maker Nvidia.

Here is Softbank’s investor relations site.

More on this topic:


  1. […] talked yesterday about Softbank emerging as the biggest e-commerce investor worldwide. SoftBank and its equity fund for tech investments, Vision Fund, have just now invested $2.5 […]


  2. […] recently talked about this deal when it was […]


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