Report: SoftBank to invest $10-20 Mn in Perplexity AI at $3 Bn valuation

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, where innovation is the lifeblood of progress, SoftBank has emerged as a trailblazer, consistently seeking out the next big thing. This time, the Japanese conglomerate has set its sights on a promising artificial intelligence (AI) startup, Perplexity AI, with plans to invest a staggering $10 million to $20 million at a valuation of $3 billion.

Perplexity AI, an AI search engine startup founded by an IIT Madras graduate Aravind Srinivas, has positioned itself as a formidable challenger to the search engine giant, Google. Leveraging the power of AI, Perplexity aims to provide users with a more intuitive and real-time information experience, departing from the traditional link-based search results. By offering a text-based “answer engine,” Perplexity is poised to disrupt the status quo and redefine the way we access and consume information.

At the helm of this investment is SoftBank’s charismatic founder, Masayoshi Son, who has long been captivated by the transformative potential of AI. Son’s unwavering belief in the future of artificial super-intelligence has driven SoftBank’s aggressive pursuit of AI-centric investments, making this latest move a natural extension of his ambitious vision.

Perplexity’s appeal lies in its cutting-edge technology, which has already set it apart from traditional chatbots and AI assistants. By providing more real-time information and a unique “answer engine” approach, the startup has garnered significant attention, both positive and negative. The controversy surrounding Perplexity’s news summarization product has only served to heighten the intrigue surrounding the company, further piquing SoftBank’s interest.

The $250 million funding round that Perplexity AI is currently undertaking is a significant milestone for the startup. With SoftBank’s investment expected to account for a significant portion of this round, the company’s valuation is poised to triple, positioning it as one of the most highly valued AI companies in the industry.

SoftBank’s investment in Perplexity AI is part of a broader strategy to diversify its AI portfolio. The conglomerate has already made significant strides in this direction, with direct investments in startups like Tempus AI, which analyzes medical data, and the establishment of a joint venture in Japan. This multifaceted approach to AI investment underscores SoftBank’s determination to be at the forefront of the technological revolution.

SoftBank’s decision to sell its stake in Nvidia in 2019 has been a source of regret for the company, as the shares would now be worth over $150 billion. This missed opportunity serves as a stark reminder of the importance of strategic foresight and the need to maintain a keen eye on emerging trends in the tech industry.

SoftBank’s past investments, both successful and unsuccessful, have provided valuable lessons that the company is now applying to its AI strategy. The setbacks faced with investments in companies like Alibaba and WeWork have instilled a sense of caution, driving SoftBank to approach its AI ventures with a more measured and strategic approach.

SoftBank’s investment in Perplexity AI is not just about securing a piece of the AI pie; it is a bold statement about the company’s ambitions for the future of artificial intelligence. From Masayoshi Son’s vision of “artificial super-intelligence” to the conglomerate’s commitment to accelerating its AI investments, it is evident that SoftBank is positioning itself as a driving force in the AI revolution.