How SoftBank’s Founder Became The Center Of Controversy
SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son is undoubtedly one of the most powerful investors in the world, inevitably causing the company’s $100 billion Vision Fund to be heavily scrutinized.
Over the past few years, Son has made daring bets and given companies huge valuations, but things have not always turned out as planned. One of the most headline-grabbing instances was its investments of over $10 billion into coworking firm WeWork since 2017, giving the company a $47 billion valuation at one point.
“We paid too much valuation for WeWork, and we did too much believe in the entrepreneur,” said Son. “But I think even with WeWork, we’re now confident that we put in new management, a new plan, and we’re going to turn it around and make a decent return.”
Despite Son’s indication that WeWork will be able to bounce back from its massive losses — its valuation sits somewhere around $2.9 billion today — the coworking company still has massive debt prices. With SoftBank’s stake in the firm dwindling down, and the Vision Fund’s investments into the sharing economy looking grim, the conglomerate could be facing dark times.
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If the Vision Fund did shut down, SoftBank’s stock could have had a spike. Son recently agreed to divest a portion of SoftBank’s assets as part of a $41 billion plan to buy back SoftBank stock.
“The market is afraid of WeWork and Uber being only the beginning of a more general issue,” said Pierre Ferragu, an analyst at New Street Research. “They’re worried SoftBank Group is run by a ‘lunatic,’ Masa, who is going to keep doing that until he doesn’t have a penny left.”
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