Too much money leads to blurry Vision (Funds)

A number of companies infused with cash from SoftBank’s Vision Fund have struggled to spend it productively, raising questions about the value of mega-investments.


November 6, 2019

Many Vision Fund-financed startups are failing, leading analysts to question SoftBank’s investment strategy of dumping money into companies banking on growth vs. profitability.

A who’s who of bunk

SoftBank is on the hook for a $9.5B bailout to protect its $9B WeWork investment. This isn’t the only time SoftBank’s Vision Fund has come up shortsighted. Roll call!

  • Wag, the dog-walking app, wanted only $75m in funds, but in January 2018 Vision Fund persuaded it to take $300m. Meanwhile, rival Rover refused to roll over — raising $100m to lift a leg on fundraising — and now Wag is looking for a buyer.
  • DoorDash has struggled since SoftBank was a lead investor in its $535m Series D funding round. Since then, the restaurant delivery service has come under fire for keeping its employees classified as contractors and stealing their tips.
  • Oyo, India’s No. 1 hotel chain, is sitting pretty after Vision Fund gave the company’s founder money to buy back shares from early investors… and inflate its valuation. 

SoftBank releases its earnings today

Analysts anticipate it will take billions in losses as it marks down the values of its big-name investments. SoftBank Chair Masayoshi Son himself has seen his wealth drop from $20B to $13.8B. 

But don’t count him out. Son has seen big payoffs in the past, including his early investment in the Chinese e-commerce goliath Alibaba — now worth more than $100B. SoftBank is expected to go forward with a fundraising effort for its second Vision Fund.

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