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SoftBank makes rare early bet on startup by ex-Infosys CEO

US AI company Vianai Systems to launch products as early as this year

SoftBank's Vision Fund 2 joined a $140 million funding round by Vianai Systems, an Indian artificial intelligence software startup by Vishal Sikka, former CEO of Indian IT services giant Infosys. (Source photos by Ken Kobayashi, Reuters, and AP)

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group has made a rare early investment in a startup launched by Vishal Sikka, former CEO of Indian IT services giant Infosys, in a sign that the Japanese technology group is willing to back companies that are far away from an IPO.

SoftBank's Vision Fund 2, which is entirely funded by SoftBank, recently joined a $140 million funding round by Vianai Systems, a Silicon Valley-based artificial intelligence software company founded by Sikka in 2019. It was the startup's second funding round, marking a departure from the Vision Fund's conventional strategy of investing in late-stage companies that are nearly ready to go public.

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