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Masayoshi Son's first Vision Fund had earth-shaking effects. But with massive scale comes close scrutiny -- and its even bigger sequel must convince investors that the vision can be profitable. (Photo by Yuki Kohara)
The Big Story

SoftBank's Vision Fund 2: more firepower, bigger questions

Masayoshi Son faces a relentless pace of exits and IPOs to achieve his 300-year vision

WATARU SUZUKI, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- Bill Huang likes to think in hundred-year cycles. A former telecoms engineer, Huang founded CloudMinds in 2015, driven by the belief that the unstoppable rise of artificial intelligence and the widespread adoption of robotics will outpace the capabilities of computer chips. His solution: to build a "cloud brain" that connects millions of robots in homes, offices and factories with the vast computing power of remote servers.

CloudMinds' pitch, with its huge ideas, long-term vision and its worldview centered on the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence, was almost guaranteed to appeal to Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of SoftBank Group. Overseer of the Vision Fund, the world's largest technology investment fund, Son has famously talked about his desire to invest based on a 300-year business plan, and of his belief in the imminence of "the Singularity": the point at which artificial intelligence outstrips human intelligence.

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