SoftBank’s makeover, in the following the resignation of chief operating officer Marcelo Claure over a dispute over compensation, is hard to miss. Last month, the company changed the direction and structure of one of Claure’s most notable contributions — a $100 million growth fund for founders of color — into an evergreen investment vehicle with a new direction. Today, it is a gesture that Claure himself would have advocated when he was still in the cabinet; but originally clashed with leadership.
The company today announced that it is transforming its Latin America investment arm into a new standalone entity, dubbed Upload Ventures, which will support start-ups in the region at a rate of approximately $100 million per year. .
As mentioned, the move comes about six months after Claure reportedly pushed for the Latin American arm to be spun off and clashed with SoftBank executives. At the time, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son told Bloomberg that there was “no discussion about the creation of SoftBank’s Latin American Fund.”
SoftBank says managing partners Rodrigo Baer, Marco Camhaji and Norberto Giangrande created Upload Ventures. Last September, TechCrunch reported exclusively on the hiring of Baer and Camhaji as part of the fund’s strategy to focus more on seed investments in the region. At that time, SoftBank said the pair would report to Claure, who pointed out that at the time of writing, the company’s LatAm fund had invested in more than two-thirds of the nearly two dozen unicorns. currently operating in the region.
The move was significant as the hires represented an extension of SoftBank LatAm Fund’s mandate and meant the company was now supporting businesses at all stages in the region.
Startups that SoftBank Latin America Fund has invested in so far will migrate to Upload Ventures. These startups include Abstra, Arch, Birdie, BotCity, Digibee, D-Uma, Indaband, Medway, Neivor, Nilo, Salu, and Worc, among others. SoftBank Latin America Fund’s 12-person team is also migrating. Giangrande, an angel investor who has backed Nubank and others, joins Upload as a new venture capital partner.
Paulo Passoni and Shu Nyatta, managing partners of the SoftBank Latin America Fund, said the move was inspired by the “enormous success” of the original fund.
“In just over six months of operation, we received over 1,100 pitches and announced investments in twelve high-growth potential companies,” the duo said in a statement.
Since 2019, the Japanese conglomerate has invested billions of dollars in the region. Claure previously told TechCrunch that by 2023, SoftBank would invest nearly $30 billion in the region per year.
We don’t often see a dedicated fund morph into a stand-alone, separate venture capital firm; although we have examples with GV-spin out Plexo Capital and NEA-spin out NewView Capital. It makes sense for ambitious investors to incubate funds with an institutional partner for a few years while the company gets a good look at new deals. A win-win.
Now, as a spin-out, Upload Ventures can add money from new investors to its investment track record and perhaps create a distinct brand from the sometimes-controversial conglomerate. Since SoftBank is still Upload’s largest limited partner, it can keep tabs on LatAm markets, even from a different angle.
TechCrunch has reached out to SoftBank and Claure for comment and will update the article accordingly.