Things that were so far being speculated and only talked about in media, are now out bare in the open. Japanese tech behemoth Softbank, reported its earnings for the December-19 ending quarter and the numbers are just plain and simple bad.
Vision Fund, the $100 billion investment vehicle that had great personal attention from Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, kind of helped the company report a 99% plunge in profits, compared with the same period last year. The Japanese tech conglomerate on Wednesday reported operating income of 2.59 billion yen ($23.6 million) for the three months ended in December, a 99% fall compared to the same period a year earlier. The big culprit — Vision Fund bets.
The Vision Fund and another related fund reported combined operating losses of a staggering 225 billion yen ($2 billion) for the quarter, blaming unrealized losses in WeWork and Uber (UBER) for the hit. WeWork’s failed IPO bid, cases of internal corruption involving founder CEO Adam Neuman and Softbank’s further $8 billion commitment to save the company are well known. Add to that Uber’s below part IPO and that makes it enough to drag down financials of a company, even of Sofbank’s size and scale.
And amid all of this, Son himself confirmed on Wednesday that current investors within the Vision Fund are clearly dissatisfied with the fund’s poor performance. This further fuels reports that suggest that the 2nd iteration of this fund, called the Vision Fund 2, will not even score half of its $108 billion target, with most coming in from Softbank itself. Just last year, SoftBank announced it had signed memorandums of understanding with more than a dozen companies to form Vision Fund 2.
However, those deals may not materialise after all. In the Wednesday earnings call, Son said that a failed WeWork IPO and the never-ending decline in Uber’s share price “have caused concern amongst potential investors in SoftBank Vision Fund 2”. Notably, he is expecting Vision Fund 2 to be a “little bit smaller”.
“At the moment, I think that our next fund size should be a little bit smaller, because we have caused concerns and anxiety to a lot of people”, he added. On being asked about other investors in Vision Fund 2, he said, “We can make investment by ourselves. But we have partners who want to work with us, so we’d like to be flexible.”