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SoftBank's Strategic Move: Open Opportunity Fund Finds New Ownership

Judge and Claure steering the $100 million Open Opportunity Fund 1, the $150 million Fund 2, towards new horizons
By Josefina Dipaolo
December 21, 2023

In a strategic shift, SoftBank is passing the baton of its Open Opportunity Fund into the capable hands of its chairman and managing partner, Paul Judge, along with the appointment of Marcelo Claure as the fund's vice chairman and general partner. This dynamic duo is set to take full ownership of the $100 million Open Opportunity Fund 1 and the $150 million Fund 2, marking a significant chapter in SoftBank's venture capital journey.

The acquisition, deemed a "significant milestone" by Claure, reflects a decisive move toward fostering diverse representation within the venture capital ecosystem. SoftBank's rebranding of its Opportunity Growth Fund to Open Opportunity Fund earlier this year laid the groundwork for this transition, with Judge at the helm as chairman and co-owner of the Fund.

Fund 2, launched earlier this year, is not just changing hands; it's scaling up. The fund's target is set to increase to an impressive $200 million, a testament to the confidence and vision that Judge and Claure bring to the table. Claure, who previously served as SoftBank's COO until 2022, is making a return to the fold about a year after stepping away, adding another layer of experience and insight to the venture capital mix.

Judge emphasizes Claure's continued activity in the venture ecosystem, underscoring his ongoing role on the fund's investment committee. Claure's extensive network and expertise, particularly within the Latino entrepreneurial community, are poised to be valuable assets in enriching the deal flow for portfolio companies.

Fund 1, under Judge and Claure's leadership, deployed $100 million across 75 Black and Latino companies, resulting in seven exits and 46 follow-on rounds. As SoftBank remains a limited partner (LP) in Fund 2, Claure highlights the fund's dedication to attracting investors who are passionate about driving diversity in the tech ecosystem and supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Fund 2 has ambitious plans, aiming to invest in 50 pre-seed to growth-stage companies across fintech, health tech, edtech, sales and marketing, and enterprise IT. Additionally, Fund 1 companies may receive funding from Fund 2 on a "case-by-case basis," showcasing the interconnected and supportive nature of SoftBank's venture initiatives.

Judge articulates a compelling vision for the venture market, asserting that the Black and Latino founder market is an "untapped source of outsized returns." This focus on underrepresented entrepreneurs, as demonstrated by Fund I's strong performance, aligns with SoftBank's commitment to uncovering alpha that other venture capitalists might overlook.

SoftBank's strategic move not only signifies a change in ownership but also a commitment to amplifying diversity, fostering innovation, and tapping into the vast potential of underrepresented founders. As the Open Opportunity Fund charts its course under the stewardship of Judge and Claure, it paves the way for a new era in venture capital, where inclusivity and untapped markets take center stage.

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