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For SoftBank's Son, vision turns into illusion

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:28s - Published
For SoftBank's Son, vision turns into illusion

For SoftBank's Son, vision turns into illusion

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son's dreams of a global tech empire are unraveling, as the ongoing global crisis compounds losses at his $100 billion Vision Fund and his big bets on startups are backfiring.

Gloria Tso reports.

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The dream of a worldwide tech empire under Japan's SoftBank is unravelling.

Founder Masayoshi Son built the company's $100 billion dollar Vision Fund over three years.

It became the world's biggest fund for technology.

It made bets on a spectrum of startups - from AI to ride-sharing apps.

Son staked his reputation on the Vision Fund.

Then came 2020.

More than half the fund's capital is in startups as big as Uber and Lyft, which are now struggling under the crisis.

And a Vision Fund partner speaking on the condition of anonymity says the economic hit has far exceeded what the fund expected early on.

Softbank itself has already flagged a $17 billion loss for the year.

Softbank-backed startups like DoorDash have pushed back plans to go public.

And recently - Son's quote "intuitive" bet on the office space startup WeWork spectacularly imploded.

With the Vision Fund's estimated losses analysts say its investments are now likely valued below cost.

And the troubles leave Son's onetime plans to raise a second mega-fund in shambles.

Many problems at portfolio firms like Softbank predate the crisis.

But the economic meltdown has exposed a blind spot in what critics have long called an extraordinarily risky strategy: throwing big sums into unproven businesses -- on the expectation that will help them dominate the markets.

SoftBank declined to comment.




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