Vision Fund woes paint a bleak picture for tech bankers
Yet another multi-billion-dollar loss on investments in SoftBank’s Vision Funds speaks to a malaise that is hurting the tech teams of investment banks in Asia.
There is a chart in SoftBank’s latest earnings presentation that, in its sharp rise and lurching fall, brings to mind the straight flanks of Mount Fuji, only considerably steeper. One finds this massif in a chart called ‘Gain/loss on investments (cumulative), Vision Funds’.
This week [results were published February 7] showed a $5.2 billion loss on investments for the Vision Funds for the quarter, the misery of which is only alleviated by the fact that it is not as bad as any of the previous three. Here are the Vision Fund’s last six quarterly figures starting from Q2 2021: $10.5 billion loss; $941 million gain; $25.6 billion loss; $22.7 billion loss; $9.9 billion loss; and now $5.2 billion loss.
A sense is growing in the investment community that Masayoshi Son has achieved something truly remarkable here, a sort of anti-Midas touch: everything he goes near turns to, if you’ll excuse the profanity, a hissing stream of WeWorks.
Is this fair? The Vision Fund venture capital unit has stakes in 472 companies, and they haven’t all turned to ordure; plus, it’s important to recall that the gruesome decline in large part reverses previous gains rather than being a destruction of the value that existed when the fund set up.