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Business

New venture fund seen linking Japan, Silicon Valley

SILICON VALLEY -- A $335 million venture capital firm whose founders include Mitsubishi Corp. and a former U.S. ambassador to Japan have begun making investments that the fund's Japanese backers hope will strengthen the pipeline between Japan and Silicon Valley.

Geodesic Capital partner John Roos led a law firm that represented startups before his appointment as ambassador, and he maintains a wide network in the industry. The fund's founders also include Ashvin Bachireddy, a former partner at major tech venture fund Andreessen Horowitz.

More than 10 Japanese corporations have backed Geodesic, including Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nikon. The fund will invest in startups looking to expand to Japan and other markets outside the U.S. as well as help Japanese companies network in Silicon Valley.

Financial institutions aim to develop services by working with financial technology startups. Manufacturers seek input from ventures to create new services and reform production processes. Geodesic will draw on Roos and Bachireddy's network to connect Japanese companies to the valley, not only financially but also in terms of talent and business opportunities.

The fund has invested in four U.S. firms including image-sharing app Snapchat and a security company. It plans to get involved with a wide range of services and software such as artificial intelligence and cloud infrastructure.

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