Business

SoftBank Vision Fund weighs backing Vaak's crime-busting tech

by Takahiko Hyuga

Bloomberg

Vaak Inc., a Japanese start-up backed by SoftBank Group Corp., said that it is lining up a ¥2 billion ($18 million) cash injection in August and that the Vision Fund could provide further funding, as the company takes its violent crime prevention software global.

Tokyo-based Vaak, which is already using artificial intelligence to detect shoplifters before they commit theft, said it will sell shares to investors including SoftBank’s venture capital arms. Chief Executive Officer Ryo Tanaka also said the Vision Fund had expressed interest and that its investment could come “as early as next year.”

Vaak wants to install its murder and terrorism targeting software at airports and shopping malls around Japan, and is in talks with government bodies in the U.S., Singapore and the United Arab Emirates to introduce its service. It hopes its software can eventually become instrumental in fighting more serious crimes such as murder and terrorism.

Vaak plans an initial public offering on the Tokyo Stock Exchange as early as 2022, the CEO said. It is also considering additional listings in Hong Kong and New York.

The firm hired Hiromichi Maruono, a former investment banker at Citigroup Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., as chief financial officer in June. As of the end of May, Vaak had 53 employees. The company plans to establish subsidiaries in San Francisco and Singapore later this year.

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