SoftBank Capital Raises $250M Fund to Help Startups Expand to Asia

SoftBank Capital, the venture firm that backed the Huffington Post, Buddy Media and OMGPOP, is raising a $250 million fund to help startups expand internationally.

And by “internationally,” they mostly mean Asia. SoftBank Capital is the venture arm of Softbank Corp., the Japanese company that agreed last year to buy  a controlling stake in Sprint Nextel Corp. The fund is also backed by Alibaba Group, the largest online business-to-business company in China, and Yahoo! Japan.

Often when U.S. startups go international for the first time, they expand somewhere in Europe because the culture and business practices most resemble those of the U.S., said Matt Krna, a principal at SoftBank Capital. But the European market has slowed down as U.S. startups face increasing competition from Asia.

“A lot more companies are looking to Asia first as their international expansion plan,” Krna said in an interview. “We have the connections to make that happen.”

Global expansion is becoming a bigger priority for startups, Krna said.

“Companies are looking at that a lot more early on in their maturation than they did 10 years ago,” he said.

SoftBank Capital’s new fund is its largest for growth-stage companies, Krna said. He expects the fund will end up supporting about 13 portfolio companies.

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