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Tech Startups Accepting Funds From Saudi

Despite the controversy and concern shown by political and industrial leaders in the western hemisphere about murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey at Saudi consulate by suspected Saudi officials, it appears that not everyone is concerned about the issue. It has emerged that Softbank is going ahead with investments declared by its Vision Fund in Silicon Valley startups View and Zuma. Vision Fund is backed by $ 45 Billion of Saudi government money. While View which manufactures smart energy-saving windows received $1.1 Billion, Zuma received $375 Million in October for fine-tuning its technology that uses robots to make pizzas. While Zuma did not respond to queries about source of the investment Wall Street Journal reported that most of the money has come from $93 Billion Vision Fund.

Questions are being raised in financial circles about SoftBank’s relationship with Saudi government as its Vision Fund has increased cash infusions after the issue of Khashoggi’s murder. Though Saudi government at first denied knowledge about the murder at its Istanbul consulate it later accepted that some rogue agents that had no connection with government were responsible and suspended a couple of officials. But mounting pressure by international agencies and presentation of evidence by Turkish media forced Saudi’s attorney general to accept that Khashoggi’s death was a premeditated murder.

While Softbank’s founder Masayoshi Son did not attend the Saudi Arabia Investment Summit like other industry heads to show their solidarity his company is a key player in several projects of Saudi Arabian government that is on an investment spree to improve its economy. Some tech firms like Tesla have publicly distanced themselves from Saudi Arabia after the murder and its found Elon Musk declared that his firm would not accept any funds from Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund. Dealogic data shows that Vision Fund has infused billions into promising tech startups like WeWork, DoorDash, Improbable Worlds and Slack along with the most recent Zume and View.