SoftBank Invests in US Office Space-Sharing WeWork

American office space-sharing company WeWork has obtained $3 billion (roughly Rs. 21,600 crores) in funding from Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank Group.

The new funding comes in addition to the $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,200 crores) raised from SoftBank last quarter, WeWork spokesperson Kumiko Hidaka said Thursday.

WeWork, which targets startups, is operating not only in the US but also India, China, Peru, Israel and other nations, as well as Japan, where real estate is relatively expensive, allowing WeWork an opportunity to grow.

SoftBank confirmed the investment but referred queries to WeWork.

SoftBank has been scrutinised for the funding it has received from Saudi Arabia. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey last month.

SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son, has been partnering with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and about half of his $100 billion (roughly Rs. 7.2 lakh crores) Vision Fund, established in 2016, comes from the kingdom. The fund has been investing in various companies, solar projects and artificial intelligence.

In a sign the company has other sources of funding, SoftBank is carrying out an initial public offering of its Japanese mobile subsidiary, set for Dec. 19. It’s likely to be one of the world’s biggest IPOs. The Tokyo Stock Exchange approved the listing of 1.6 billion shares this week at JPY 1,500 ($13 or roughly Rs. 954) a share, which would potentially raise more than JPY 2 trillion ($20 billion or roughly Rs. 14.43 lakh crores).

In addition to WeWork, SoftBank has been investing globally, including in US wireless company Sprint, British IoT company ARM, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and US ride-sharing service Uber.

WeWork has opened 11 locations in Tokyo, and has a few more in other cities in Japan. The buildings are spacious, although they are broken into smaller cubicles for lesser paying clients, and have nice interiors.

The spaces come with wireless and other office services, and have communal areas for networking and meetings, designed to make renting attractive to ventures.

It might be cold, inhospitable and all but invisible but the new planet has one thing going for it: it’s really close.

The only known exoplanet closer to Earth was discovered in 2016 orbiting one of a cluster of stars in the Alpha Centauri system, just over four light years away.

“There’s not so many stars in our immediate neighbourhood. The investment to find them is expensive,” said Ribas.

“It’s really near and therefore if you have the hope — like I do — of eventually seeing these planets to study them in detail we have to start with the immediate ones. It could lead potentially to other discoveries.”

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