Startup bloXroute gains new funding, the latest Web3 bet for SoftBank

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April 12 (Reuters) - U.S. startup bloXroute said on Tuesday it had raised $70 million in new funding led by SoftBank's (9984.T) Vision Fund 2, the latest investment in a decentralized blockchain technology company by the Japanese investment powerhouse.

The Series B fundraising values Chicago-based bloXroute at $410 million. Founded in 2017, it offers a fast-speed blockchain distribution network that powers decentralized finance (DeFi) traders.

The Vision 2 fund has now made 14 investments in so-called Web3 businesses since it began to fund companies in the sector last year. Of those six, including bloXroute, have been made this year.

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Its investments include crypto exchange FTX, gaming platform the Sandbox and fantasy soccer startup Sorare, where players trade cards in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Over half of the venture capital fundraising rounds in Web3 companies SoftBank has participated in are series B or earlier, giving it more exposure to young startups.

Munish Varma, a managing partner at SoftBank, told Reuters that for the volatile crypto market, the Japanese firm is adopting the pick-and-shovel approach - an strategy of investing in the tools or services an industry uses to produce a product.

"We're trying to play the infrastructure side of the grid," Varma said in an interview.

"If the company is building an infrastructure service, then as adoption of blockchain increases, the value of the service that the company provides goes up."

Although most of its investments in blockchain companies are in equity, Varma said the fund is open to investing in tokens issued by portfolio companies.

Vision Fund 2, launched in 2019, had a total commitment of $51 billion at the end of 2021 and was self-funded by SoftBank.

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Reporting by Krystal Hu in New York; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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