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SoftBank Earmarks $100 Million For Miami Tech Startups

SoftBank is planning to invest $100 million in Miami area startups, launching an initiative that will assist local tech companies and those looking to launch in the area, Bloomberg reported on Thursday (Jan. 28).

Known as the Magic City, the beach-side metropolis has been looking to attract technology firms. Softbank’s investment is intended to help Miami solidify its position as a top tech firm destination. The South Florida ecosystem in greater Miami attracted venture capital investments totaling $1.06 billion in 2020, according to research firm PitchBook, per Bloomberg.

Marcelo Claure, chief operations officer and executive vice president at SoftBank Group, said the company has selected its first startups, which include the cybersecurity firm Lumu Technologies.

Claure introduced the company’s commitment in an online video with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has worked to boost the appeal of Miami and South Florida as a tech company locale, using social media to propel the city into the national spotlight. “People want to move here because they have the choice, and the next thing they need is capital,” Claure said.

The investments will come from existing SoftBank funds, which include a $5 billion Latin American vehicle, a source told Bloomberg. 

A native of Bolivia who graduated from Bentley University in Massachusetts, Claure is no stranger to technology or Miami, where he calls home. He launched the wireless distribution company Brightstar in 1997, and after expanding into Latin America, he sold a majority stake to the SoftBank Group in 2013 for $1.26 billion. Claure also co-owns the city’s Major League Soccer franchise, Inter Miami.

Some $156 billion was invested in U.S. startups last year, with over one-third going to Silicon Valley companies. But the coronavirus has caused individuals and companies to think differently about their post-pandemic workplace and to look beyond New York City and San Francisco.

SoftBank’s $5 billion Latin American fund was launched in March 2019, with a mission of extending about $1 billion annually from its hub in Miami. It has invested in companies such as Colombia’s Rappi food delivery service and Brazil-born Gympass, a fitness company.

San Francisco has especially suffered from restrictions related to the pandemic. With many people working remotely, some have relocated to more affordable areas. The ability of remote work has caused a mass exodus from the Silicon Valley area. 

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