As a part of its artificial intelligence (AI) investment drive, the Japanese investment firm SoftBank is leading a $280 million investment round for US-based location mapping company Mapbox. Social media giants like Facebook and Snapchat have used the company’s cloud-based location data.
According to the Financial Times, SoftBank continues its aggressive AI investment by leading Mapbox’s $280 million investment round.
Mapbox Wants to Use SoftBank Investment to Enhance AI Software
Mapbox, a company inaugurated in 2011, has already raised over $360 million through multiple investment rounds. SoftBank previously funded Mapbox through its $100 billion Vision Fund in 2017. The company achieved a $1.2 billion valuation in April 2020.
Regarding the latest investment round, SoftBank CEO Peter Sirota wants to utilize the funds to enhance AI software’s interaction with cameras and other vehicle sensors. According to Sirota, the data from the advanced AI software can help make split-second decisions.
FT explained Mapbox’s AI software:
“Mapbox software sits behind the in-car navigation systems of Toyota, BMW, General Motors and others — systems that are increasingly adaptive to changing conditions and whose ability to process new information will be critical as vehicles become more autonomous.”
Artificial Intelligence Sparks Investment Race
While AI companies focus on making the best possible products to gain an edge over competitors, institutional investors are concentrating on picking up the best AI investment for fear of missing out.
In the second half of 2023, SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son has aggressively approached the firm’s AI investment. As reported by BeInCrypto in July 2023, SoftBank allocated $100 million to establish a joint venture with the robotic warehouse company Symbotic.
Son claims to be a heavy user of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and has been in regular contact with the OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Reportedly, SoftBank has been exploring a partnership with OpenAI.
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Many other institutions have also shown rising interest in the AI ecosystem lately. BeInCrypto reported that Australia’s largest pension fund, AustralianSuper, invested $1.6 billion into Vantage Data Centers, which supports the AI infrastructure.
The development comes due to various positive forecasts on the future of AI. According to Statista, the global AI market is expected to achieve a nearly $2 trillion valuation by 2030.
Click here to learn more about the best artificial intelligence (AI) companies for 2023
Is AI Another Dot Com Bubble?
When the broader market is greedy and overly bullish about a particular sector, some are exercising caution.
A number of renowned investors, including the SkyBridge Capital Founder Anthony Scaramucci, have expressed skepticism regarding the current AI valuations, calling it a bubble. Along with Scaramucci, Bill Smead, the founder and CEO of Smead Capital Management, compared AI stock valuations to the dot com bubble.
In contrast, Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Oppenheimer defended the current valuation as he believes that the companies have “unusually strong balance sheets and returns on investment.”