In the biggest deal involving a UK tech firm since CTrip acquired Skyscanner for $1.7BN in November last year, SoftBank (the Japanese telecoms and technology giant that acquired ARM Holdings) has invested $500M in Improbable: a five-year-old virtual reality (VR) company founded by two Cambridge University graduates.
Whilst this is similar in size to the Deepmind acqusition by Google in 2014, the big difference is that Google bought that business outright whereas SoftBank does not even have a controlling stake.
It's simple math, but if SoftBank paid $502M for 43% of Improbable then we have a new tech unicorn in London. These are exciting and relatively unchartered waters for a UK start-up: the founders have half-a-billion in cash, remain independant and hence are in control of their own destiny.
I wonder if there was a fleeting envious glance from Deepmind, once the darling of the UK AI space, at the new - and autonomous - darling of the UK VR sector?...
One company that won't be envious is the Silicon Valley VC, Andreessen Horowitz. They invested $20M two years ago at a $100M valuation... nice.
UK virtual reality firm Improbable raises $500m A London-based virtual reality firm has raised $500m (£388m) in one of the biggest investments in an early stage European technology business.