As its fundraising lags, SoftBank’s second Vision Fund could be near-sighted
SoftBank, the technology conglomerate that transformed the venture capital industry and made waves in the technology world with its $100 billion Vision Fund, may not be able to repeat the performance or sustain its revolutionary approach to tech investing, The Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal, SoftBank may only be able to raise half of the $108 billion target it had set for its sequel to the Vision Fund — with most of that money coming from the Japanese company itself.
Big backers like the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund (which helps support the financial stability of a regime responsible for assassinating journalists), and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co. both balked at SoftBank’s attempts to set up Vision Fund II, telling SoftBank that it would have to use capital from the profits made off of previous investments to finance the second firm.
Those profits reportedly amount to roughly $10 billion.
While the Vision Fund launched with much fanfare and no small amount of jealous grumbling from investors, analysts and media amazed at the size of capital SoftBank’s founder and enigmatic chief executive Masayoshi Son was able to raise, the results have not managed to keep pace with the hype.
Part of the problem has been the disastrous investment SoftBank made in the co-working company WeWork. SoftBank wrote down its $4.4 billion investment in the company by roughly $3.5 billion.
WeWork’s woes may just be the tip of the iceberg for SoftBank, which has significantly curtailed its capital commitments to other portfolio companies. Those companies have recently slashed staff to reduce spending sending ripples through the broader tech industry and hinting at a potentially broader slowdown.
The Japanese conglomerate’s investment arm is also shedding staff. Earlier this week, the company lost one of its top managers, Michael Ronen, who previously worked at Goldman Sachs and was instrumental in SoftBank’s investments in companies like ParkJockey, Nuro and GM Cruise.
Ronen isn’t the only big departure. The company’s chief people officer, Michelle Horn and another U.S.-based managing director, David Thevenon, have also left the company in the past five months.