Will Smith, Japanese Soccer Star to Launch $100M Startup Fund
The unlikely duo of Smith and Keisuke Honda plan to raise money from Japanese institutions and individuals to invest in U.S. ventures.
Will Smith is teaming up with Japan's World Cup soccer star Keisuke Honda to launch an investment fund this month, with the aim of raising $100 million of Japanese money and investing in U.S. startups.
The Hollywood actor, who performed the FIFA World Cup song "Live It Up" at the final of the tournament in Moscow on July 15, also sang Honda's praises at a pre-match press conference.
"You know who else I like? Keisuke Honda. We have a little bit of a relationship. Keisuke is the truth. I like his heart. He is a really authentic, good dude," said Smith in response to a question about his favorite players.
The two reportedly got to know each other through the Japanese player's management company Honda Estilo, which lists both Smith and his son Jaden as talent on its website.
Honda and Smith are to use their personal connections to look for unicorns (unlisted companies worth $1 billion or more) to invest in, while Japanese financial giant Nomura will help with raising funds.
Investments will not be restricted to the sports and entertainment sectors, with Honda and Smith expected to personally interview some potential investees, according to the Nikkei Japanese business daily.
Honda aims to "build bridges between Japanese investors and overseas businesses," wrote the Nikkei.
Smith has made multiple investments, including through his Overbrook Entertainment production company, while Honda has been an angel investor in various ventures.
Honda, 32, retired from international football after the World Cup, after coming off the bench to score Japan's equalizer against Senegal, helping the Samurai Blue qualify for the knockout stages. As well as scoring 37 goals for Japan, his club career took him to AC Milan and CSKA Moscow. He's played for Mexico's FC Pachuca since last year.