How SoftBank’s $100B fund is in a league all its own

For the average American, the name “SoftBank” doesn’t mean much.

It’s neither soft nor, technically, a bank. It’s a sprawling Japanese mobile carrier, internet service provider and holding company for other businesses ranging from cloud services and self-driving cars to energy trading. And its investment arm has bankrolled some of the world’s largest and most successful upstart technology companies, including many with serious name recognition here in the U.S.

Like many large corporations, SoftBank invests its cash across a broad portfolio of asset classes. It also invests some of its substantial capital reserves in earlier-stage…

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