Softbank sells Open Opportunity Fund to Marcelo Claure, Paul Judge

Softbank Group is selling its Open Opportunity Fund to Paul Judge, the fund’s chairman and managing partner, and Marcelo Claure,  who will be the fund’s vice chairman and general partner. The Open Opportunity Fund is dedicated to funding Black- and Latino-founded technology companies overlooked by most venture funds.

Claure joins Judge in the agreement to acquire an ownership stake in the $100 million Opportunity Fund 1 portfolio from SoftBank, as well as Fund 2 that launched earlier this year. SoftBank will continue as an LP in Fund 2, which is also raising its target from $150 million to $200 million.

Fund 2 will invest in 50 pre-seed- to growth-stage companies in fintech, health tech, edtech, sales and marketing, and enterprise IT. Fund 1 companies may also receive funding from Fund 2 on a case-by-case basis, Judge told TechCrunch.

 “We believe the Black and Latino founder market is an untapped source of outsized returns and this focus allows us to find alpha that other VCs have overlooked,” Judge told TechCrunch. “The strong performance of Fund I proves that thesis works.”

SoftBank launched what was then called the SB Opportunity Fund in June of 2020 to invest in underrepresented founders. Under Claure, who was also CEO of SoftBank Group International then, SoftBank successfully incubated the Opportunity Fund and deployed the initial $100 million into 75 Black- and Latino-led companies over the next three years. SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2 and the Latin America Fund separately invested nearly $600 million in Opportunity Fund portfolio companies, for a total of nearly $700 million invested across SoftBank’s funds.

Fund 1 portfolio companies include Miami-based startups QuickNode, Lumu, AllHere, Eight Sleep and Lula as well as Atomic, Career Karma, Brex, Cityblock Health, Praxis Labs and others.

Claure, now the founder & CEO of global investment firm Claure Group and chairman and managing partner at growth equity firm Bicycle Capital, said  returning to the Open Opportunity Fund is part of a personal mission to provide equal opportunity for Black and Latino entrepreneurs struggling to get access to capital to grow their businesses.

The struggle is real. In 2022, Black and Latino founders received less than 3% of venture capital funding. That’s despite research showing that diverse companies yield greater business results.

“As a Latino and Hispanic entrepreneur who was successful in growing businesses, I still had to fight harder to get funding. Paul fought those same battles as a Black entrepreneur. Together through the Open Opportunity Fund, we are investing back into our communities, ensuring that Black and Latino innovators have the capital they need to grow profitable businesses,” said Claure in a statement. “We are grateful to SoftBank for investing in Black- and Latino-led companies through the initial fund, and we appreciate their commitment to Fund 2 as we build on that legacy.”

Judge called it a full circle moment working alongside Claure again. “Beyond our work as investors and advisors, I believe our position as an independently-owned fund led by a Black American and a Bolivian immigrant is a powerful statement that I hope will inspire future leaders,” said Judge.


Nancy Dahlberg