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Tech brief: SoftBank Quietly Offloads Vision Fund Assets, Shifts Focus to AI, Semiconductors

+ 7 breaking tech news stories.

Tech brief

SoftBank's Vision Fund has been quietly diminishing its publicly-held investments, pointing to it shifting focus from venture capital to AI and semiconductor-based strategic investments. The fund trimmed its US-listed portfolio by about $29 billion since 2021, including stake sales in Coupang Inc., DoorDash Inc., and Grab Holdings Ltd. Much of Son's recent investments sidestep the Vision Fund and are executed via the holding company. The billionaire is also contemplating a $100 billion chip venture.

Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery are set to partner on a bundled streaming service combining Disney+, Hulu and Max, launching this summer. This marks the first cross-company collaboration for top-tier streaming services, aimed at enhancing cost-efficiency for programmers and consumers. Both ad-supported and ad-free versions are planned to combat churn rates and manage growing cord-cutting trends. The newly announced bundle will feature brands including ABC, CNN, DC, Discovery, Pixar, Warner Bros, and more.

Reddit has outlined its stringent data usage policies, including a ban on sending ads without user consent, as it aims to enhance revenues via licensing deals with AI developers. Adherence to users' privacy, it confirmed, is vital as it rolls out its licensing agreement worth $60 million with Google to better language models. Foreseeing increased revenue, Reddit projects returns of $60 million from licensing by year-end 2024.

Shopify shares dipped 19% on a warning of slower sales next quarter, breaking from the Q1 double-digit rise. The sale of its logistics business, Flexport, is expected to impact Q2 revenue, despite Shopify's Q1 revenue growth of 23%. The company reported a net income loss of $273m during Q1, contrasting a profit of $68m in the same period last year. However, it modestly surpassed Wall Street's expectations with a revenue of $1.86 billion, primarily driven by its merchant solutions unit.

OpenAI has unveiled “Model Spec,” a comprehensive framework meant to shape AI models' behavior within its programming API and ChatGPT. With an intent to ensure AI technologies operate in a beneficial and safe manner for all users, it encompasses objectives, rules, and default behaviors. OpenAI aims for continuous evolution and improvements to Model Spec through frequent feedback and updates based on extensive research and public consultations.

OpenAI is set to announce a new artificial intelligence-powered search product that will compete with Google, according to inside sources. Leveraging its flagship product ChatGPT, the AI search aims to pull direct information from the web and include citations. This move comes amid a competitive landscape including Alphabet's Google and AI search startup Perplexity.

TikTok is ramping up AI transparency efforts by automatically labeling AI-generated content using Content Credentials technology from the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity, co-founded by Microsoft and Adobe. Although not foolproof, Content Credentials are increasingly supported by big tech companies, including OpenAI, Meta, Google, and the C2PA co-founders themselves.

Airbnb's Q1 CY2024 results exceeded expectations with revenue growing by 17.8% YoY to hit $2.14 billion. Notably, its GAAP profit improved to $0.41 per share, and free cash flow surged to $1.9 billion. The platform, however, projected Q2 revenue guidance of $2.71 billion—about 1.1% below forecasts. Shares fell by 7.2% after the results announcement.

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