Softbank Capital Raises New Fund, Refines Focus

Softbank Capital has quietly raised $100 million for a new fund, which will focus on early-stage investments in the social computing space.

The entire capital commitment came from Tokyo-based namesake Softbank. This is different from Softbank Capital’s prior fund, a $230 million pool in which Softbank was joined by several other limited partners. That fund is now fully-committed, although there is still dry powder for follow-on investments.

I last reported on Softbank Capital in June 2009, when co-managing partner Eric Hippeau left to become CEO of portfolio company HuffingtonPost. At the time, remaining managing partner Ron Fisher said that the firm had commitments to a new fund in 2008, but that “it was better for us to focus on our 26 current portfolio companies.”

Fisher tells me today that the single LP structure will give his firm more flexibility, particularly as parent Softbank begins to do more direct investments on the later-stage side of the tech leger.

“This kind of helps us come a bit fuller circle, and we can show things to each other that don’t fit our strategies,” Fisher explains.

He adds that the refined investment focus on earlier-stage deals in the mobile computing space — particularly mobile social computing — also allow Softbank Capital to invest out of a smaller fund.

The new vehicle already has made two investments. The first was as part of a recent round for Betaworks, while the second is for a social gaming company that has not yet been announced.

There will be no changes to existing Softbank Capital personnel or office locations, except that it moved its New York office by a few blocks. Its other office will remain in Newton, Mass.