Following a quarterly blowout report, Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank, told CNBC that he expected more exits from companies in the Vision Fund’s portfolio.
“I want to create an ecosystem … in which multiple companies go public,” Son said in an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, co-host of Squawk Box, which was taped on Wednesday night. He said that 14 of SoftBank’s Vision Fund companies had an IPO or other exit in the past 12 months, up from eight exits the previous year.
SoftBank reported net earnings of $ 45.88 billion for the most recent quarter on Wednesday, largely thanks to the IPO of one of the crown jewels of its Vision Fund portfolio, South Korean e-commerce company Coupang.
SoftBank also benefited from the soaring share price of Uber, in which it had invested billions prior to the IPO of the hailstorm. DoorDash, another Vision Fund portfolio company, also had a successful IPO last year.
SoftBank’s Vision Fund, a $ 100 billion fund for big bets on tech startups, invests in companies like online grocer GoPuff, self-driving car company Aurora, and fitness tech company Whoop. SoftBank is invested in around 200 companies through its two Vision Funds.
The big quarter comes after a notable slump for companies that SoftBank has made big money on, particularly WeWork. WeWork botched its high profile IPO in 2019, grossing the busy startup billions in value and ultimately leading to the overthrow of its co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann.
Even so, Son was optimistic about WeWork when asked if he regretted his investments.
“WeWork is now turning around,” said Son, adding that he expects the company to be profitable “sometime in the next few quarters”.
But after the WeWork debacle, Son regrets the investments he’s passed on, like Airbnb and software company Snowflake, more. He said he didn’t invest in Airbnb because he thought it was too expensive at the time. Airbnb shares are down roughly 4% since the start of the year, but they still have a market cap of $ 85 billion.
“I’ve seen that they’re a pretty good company, great business model, great talent and so on,” Son said of Airbnb. “I found the price a little too expensive. We discussed an investment, but I wasn’t smart enough to accept the price they were a few years ago.”
Son said most of the investments he missed were made because of the price of an investment. He also said that while the Vision Fund tends to invest in high-growth, money-losing companies, it is looking for a positive long-term outcome.
“So you have to have a pretty long view … and you have to introduce yourself and so on,” said Son. “Sometimes you can imagine the result is a bad result, as we’ve learned, but sometimes you have to be brave be enough to imagine more on the positive side. “