The company wasn’t originally planning to raise money until SoftBank arrived.
SoftBank is unexpectedly pumping a massive amount of money into Katerra, a U.S. company trying to improve the speed and lower the cost of construction projects.
SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the $100 billion technology investing vehicle, said it was leading a $865 million round into the company, which is now valued at over $3 billion including the new cash. It is another example of SoftBank pumping a company with way more money than it recently raised; the company’s last major financing round was less than a year ago when it took in $160 million.
The company was not originally planning to raise money until approached by SoftBank, a person with knowledge of the deal said. While the company would have been okay with $400 million or $500 million in funding, SoftBank encouraged Katerra to prepare to grow globally more quickly and ambitiously. SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son met with Michael Marks, the company’s chairman, several times ahead of the deal, the person said.
The investment is a large round even for SoftBank, which closed its $9 billion Uber deal earlier this month. Not all the money, though, is headed to the company’s bank account, the person said: As is common in SoftBank deals, a small amount will be spent on buying the shares of existing Katerra investors in order to give them an immediate payday and allow the company to move more patiently toward an exit.
Katerra, founded in 2015, claims to have $1.3 billion in bookings for construction. Previous venture capital backers include DFJ and Khosla Ventures.
SoftBank’s pitch to companies like Katerra is that it can quickly invest hundreds of millions of dollars into capital-intensive businesses and partner with them for decades. It also has extensive relationships in Asia, where SoftBank is based, and with bankers who can offer cheap loans.
Marks is a well-known figure in private equity and was at one point the interim CEO of Tesla. One of his co-founders is Jim Davidson, one of the original founders at the tech-investing giant Silver Lake.
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