SoftBank’s $100b Vision Fund to shed 15% of staff

The Vision Fund's $100 million backing for Biofourmis, a U.S. startup that tracks health data using wearable devices, highlights its new focus on early-stage investments. (Photo courtesy of Biofourmis)

SoftBank Group’s $100 billion Vision Fund is shedding 15% of its staff following the investment vehicle’s aggressive bets on startups that wiped $16.7 billion off its value, Nikkei has learned.

Management arm SoftBank Investment Advisers will see reductions to its 500 or so employees. This marks the first cut in the fund’s payroll, which had been expanding since 2016. The company declined to comment.

The fund’s activities go beyond pure investment, it also actively works with the 88 companies it has stakes in. It established an operating group in 2019 to improve their finances and corporate governance and an initial public offering group to support their listings. These units attracted talent from a wide array of fields.

The fund launched in 2017 as the brainchild of SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son. It invested in a succession of growth companies around the world, including ride-hailing pioneer Uber Technologies and shared-workspace provider WeWork.

But WeWork was a major investment, and significant corporate governance and profitability problems last year lowered its notional value. The coronavirus pandemic has only added to the fund’s valuation woes.

This article was first published on Nikkei Asian Review

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.