The change of image of SoftBank, in the Following the resignation of COO Marcelo Claure over a compensation dispute, it’s hard to miss. Last month, the firm changed the leadership and structure of one of Claure’s most notable contributions, a $100 million growth fund for founders of color, to a perennial investment vehicle under new leadership. Today, he’s making a move that Claure himself reportedly advocated for when he was still with the company; but he originally clashed with the leadership.
The firm announced today that it is transforming its Latin American investment arm into a new autonomous entity, called Upload Ventures, which will support early-stage companies in the region at a rate of around $100 million per year.
As mentioned, the move comes about six months after Claure reportedly pushed for the Latin American arm to be spun off and clashed with SoftBank executives. At the time, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son told Bloomberg that “there was no discussion about creating the SoftBank Latin American Fund.”
SoftBank says managing partners Rodrigo Baer, Marco Camhaji and Norberto Giangrande created Upload Ventures. Last September, TechCrunch exclusively reported on the hiring of Baer and Camhaji as part of the fund’s strategy to focus more on early stage investments in the region. At the time, SoftBank said the pair would be reporting to Claure, who noted that, at the time of this writing, the firm’s Latin American fund had invested in more than two-thirds of the nearly two dozen unicorns currently operating in the company. region.
The move was significant because the hires represented an expansion of SoftBank LatAm Fund’s mandate and meant the firm now supported companies at all stages of the region.
Early-stage companies that SoftBank Latin America Fund has invested in so far will migrate to Upload Ventures. Those startups include Abstra, Arch, Birdie, BotCity, Digibee, D-Uma, Indaband, Medway, Neivor, Nilo, Salu, and Worc, among others. The 12-person SoftBank Latin America Fund team is also migrating. Giangrande, an angel investor who has backed Nubank and others, joins Upload as a new venture partner.
Paulo Passoni and Shu Nyatta, managing partners of the SoftBank Latin America Fund, said the move was inspired by the “great success” of the original fund.
“In just over six months of operation, we received more than 1,100 proposals and announced investments in twelve companies with high growth potential,” the couple said in a statement.
Since 2019, the Japanese conglomerate has invested billions of dollars in the region. Claure previously told TechCrunch that, by 2023, SoftBank would invest close to $30 billion in the region per year.
It’s not often we see a dedicated fund become a stand-alone, independent venture company; although we do have examples with GV-spin-out Plexo Capital and NEA-spin-out NewView Capital. It makes sense for ambitious investors to incubate funds within an institutional partner for a few years while the company gets a good look at new business. A win win.
Now, as a spin-out, Upload Ventures can add money from new investors to its investment balance sheet and perhaps build a brand separate from the sometimes controversial conglomerate. Since SoftBank remains Upload’s largest limited partner, it can keep an eye on the Latin American markets, even from a different angle.
TechCrunch has reached out to SoftBank and Claure for comment, and will update the piece accordingly.