Canada’s tech scene needs to start incorporating business plans if they want to be global competitors: SoftBank Exec
SoftBank’s Yoshiaki Tanaka says that Canada’s tech sector will have its work cut out for it if companies don’t start building clear business roadmaps.
“What is the business model? They have no answer,” Yoshiaki Tanaka, senior director of business development at SoftBank Telecom America Corp. said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman in Toronto.
“There are a lot of AI companies here, Toronto and Montreal, Edmonton. But there’s still an AI-tech dream.”
SoftBank Group Corp. is a Japanese conglomerate that invests in companies specializing in telecommunications, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) through its various subsidiaries.
Based in Tokyo, SoftBank’s U.S.$100 billion Vision Fund is the biggest venture capital fund in the world, and has made well-known investments in companies such as Alibaba Group, but more recently made headlines over its disappointing bets on Uber Technologies Inc., Slack Technologies and WeWork.
SoftBank is the largest investor in WeWork, having invested around U.S.$11 billion into the office-space rental company. WeWork recently scrapped its plans to go public and saw its controversial CEO depart the company, adding another disappointing blow to SoftBank’s sinking reputation of tech bets.
Still, the company is continuing its search for unicorns (privately-held startups valued at $1 billion or more) to build-up its investment portfolio, visiting tech hubs such as Canada to look for opportunities. Tanaka says while Toronto is considered a leader in artificial intelligence, Canadian AI companies need better business plans in order to be compelling investment opportunities.
While Tanaka gives kudos to Toronto-based e-commerce company Shopify, he says Canada’s tech companies need to start focusing on stronger business roadmaps if they want to become competitors in the global arena.
“This is entire business side investment, two-ways going well, this is [the] ideal scenario.”