Wag, the Dog-Walking Service, Lands $300 Million From SoftBank Vision Fund


Still, other investments by Mr. Son, the leader of the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, suggest that he is not likely investing in Wag solely to bet on the business of keeping Fluffy content.

A little over a year into its existence, the Vision Fund has come to focus on companies that can collect and harness vast oceans of data to transform industries as diverse as medicine, food and finance.

Apart from big names like Uber, it has invested in outfits like Compass, a New York-based platform for buying and selling property; Vir Biotechnology, which researches and develops treatments for infectious diseases; and Oyo, a hotel network in India.

Wag’s app keeps track of exactly where your pooch is being taken by its walker. That makes Wag a potentially useful fount of location data. (Although, to be clear, this location data is not about Wag’s users, but about its users’ dogs.)

When the Vision Fund invested in a mapping start-up called Mapbox last year, the fund’s Rajeev Misra said, in a statement, that Mapbox’s use of sensor data to generate live maps made it an investment in “the foundational infrastructure for the next stage of the information revolution.”

“Location data is central and mission critical to the development of the world’s most exciting technologies,” Mr. Misra said.

Data on the real-world comings and goings of internet users — and, evidently, their dogs — is a highly sought-after commodity among technology companies. It can attract furious controversy when it is mishandled, though. Security analysts criticized the fitness app Strava this week for inadvertently revealing the locations of military bases by publishing its users’ running routes.

And Wag itself does not have an unblemished record for safeguarding users’ information. The Wall Street Journal recently found unprotected pages on the company’s website that contained the personal data, including home addresses, of at least 100 customers.

The pages were later taken down. Wag said that the problem was the result of a software glitch, and that it had no indication that hackers or thieves had gained access to the customer data.

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