Softbank will invest $100 million to make Miami a new tech hub

By Fatma Khaled

Softbank Capital, the Japanese multinational conglomerate, wants Miami to become a bigger player in the tech ecosystem and it's putting $100 million into the effort.

On Thursday, Softbank Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced a $100 million venture capital initiative to support Miami-based businesses and tech startups that are relocating to the city.

"All of us today have learned how to work remotely, I think new habits have been developed during this pandemic, and I think that puts Miami in a really good place," Claure said during a session at Bloomberg's The Year Ahead.

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The $100 million investment could increase over time, with financing coming from Softbank's  Vision Fund, Latin America Fund, and the Opportunity Fund, among other sources, Claure said.

Tech's migration to Miami started prior to the coronavirus pandemic, with Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian making the move to South Florida a few years ago. However, it's picked up steam as more people work from home, particularly during the pandemic.

Talent and capital are essential components to propel a tech hub in Miami, according to Claure. He added that Miami has the potential to become a tech city due to quality of life and lower taxes in Florida compared to states like New York and California.  

"We can choose where we want to live, you have capital, you have the brains of Silicon Valley and New York moving to Miami, the magic starts cooking, and you see everybody putting up ideas, and I think we're into something special," he said.

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Even though Miami attracted less than 1% of all venture capital invested in the US last year, according to Bloomberg, Claure said that he met with many venture capitalists and private equity investors who are now ready to put capital in Miami. 

Softbank will continue to invest in tech companies that utilize data and artificial intelligence to "disrupt traditional business models." 

"We've invested in companies that are technology-driven, FinTech is changing the way we move our money, fitness is being done differently, and we're in the midst of an ed-tech revolution," he said.

In 2019, Softbank invested $3 million in Meditation.live, a health and wellness company based in Miami. In 2017, Sports e-commerce firm Fanatics received $1 billion in funding led by SoftBank Group's Vision Fund.

Softbank invested in 11 US startups since it launched its first Vision Fund in 2017, favoring biotechnology startups and genomics companies that require large sums of capital to make it through regulatory and approvals processes. 

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