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This is how the fund behind WeWork, Uber, and Wag lost $16.5 billion in a year

SoftBank Group started the week announcing an astounding one-year loss of $16.5 billion. The coronavirus pandemic didn’t help, but it’s not the whole story.

This is how the fund behind WeWork, Uber, and Wag lost $16.5 billion in a year
[Photo: NeONBRAND/Unsplash]

SoftBank Group started the week announcing an astounding one-year loss of $16.5 billion.

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There were signs this was coming. SoftBank backed a variety of recent money-losing tech deals: the fiasco of WeWork’s abandoned IPO, which ultimately led to SoftBank losses of $4.6 billion; Uber’s underperforming IPO; the sale of SoftBank’s 50% stake in dog-walking company Wag for a significant loss. Meanwhile, SoftBank’s lesser-known companies remained less known, such as Brandless, the cruelty-free beauty and household products company, which closed earlier this year.

SoftBank’s share price free-fell through February and March, ultimately shedding half the company’s value (it has since partially rebounded), in response to the reality that SoftBank is heavily invested in travel and transport companies that are heavily hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

This has all netted out to an astounding $16.5 billion loss, and included the first operating loss in 15 years.

Last year SoftBank announced plans for a second Vision Fund. They have been rolled back, with funding falling far short. “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,” said SoftBank’s founder, Masayoshi Son.

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