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Sony’s new VC to roll the dice on Indian startups

Tokyo-based Sony Corp. is creating an India-focused venture capital arm that will act as a co-investor in startups alongside celebrities such as movie stars and sports personalities and seek to participate in the funding boom it has provided. place several unicorns. For the past 12 months, people familiar with the development told ET.

 

Sony’s Innovation

The $ 81 billion global media conglomerate, with businesses as diverse as games, film and music production, and electronics manufacturing, will put $ 200 million into the venture capital arm to start, the sources said.

He has hired former Fox Star Studios CEO Vijay Singh to lead the new venture. In his previous assignment, Singh spent 13 years with Fox Star and helped build the film studio in the country.

In 2016, Sony started an innovation fund with a global focus. However, the new venture capital arm is the first initiative of its kind within the conglomerate that will aim to leverage Sony’s celebrity networks in India to create an investment pool specific to India that could have ‘strategic value’ long-term for the group. sources said.

An inquiry mailed to Sony Corp. went unanswered. Separately, Singh did not respond to ET’s calls or email inquiries.

The successful investments of cricketer Virat Kohli and movie star Deepika Padukone would serve as a model for Sony’s upcoming VC bets, the sources said.

Digital Sony

Kolhi has generated multiple returns on his investment in online general insurance startup Digit Insurance, which was this year’s first unicorn and has received two rounds of funding since January with a valuation of $ 3.5 billion after the investor of venture capital Sequoia Capital to invest in its latest round in July. Kohli and his wife, Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma, had invested 5 million rupees in the company in February 2020.

Padukone has invested in Drums Food, FMCG startup, owner of the Epigamia brand of healthy food products. French dairy giant Danone is also an investor in the company.

This is not the first time Singh has worked at Sony. In the past (1996-2002), he was associated with Sony Music in India as Managing Director, where he helped establish the firm’s music label business in the country.

He left Fox Star Studios in April of last year, after Disney completed the acquisition of Star India.

Global media technology

Back then, there was talk in the marketplace that Singh would team up with a global media technology company to spearhead its launch in India.

Under Singh’s leadership, Star India entered Bollywood with the distribution of ‘Kismat Konnection’ and ‘Jannat’ in 2008. Over the years, the studio has had a history of mixed performances.

Singh has strong ties to Karan Johar’s Dharma Production, with which the company co-produced and distributed several films, including ‘Kalank’, ‘Student of The Year 2’ and the upcoming ‘Brahmastra’.

The company also distributed films by Sajid Nadiadwala, Vishesh Films, and Ajay Devgn FFilms.

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