What SoftBank’s Vision Fund results tell us about troubled startup sectors

A famous investor published notes today concerning its startup investments, detailing where they excelled and where they struggled. To understand why we care about this particular investor’s results, a little context helps.

The investor in question is Japanese telecom giant and startup benefactor SoftBank, which reported its fiscal year’s results this morning. SoftBank’s investments are famous because of its $100 billion Vision Fund effort, which saw it put capital to work in a host of private companies around the world in an aggressive manner.

The information it shared this morning included a slide deck detailing the conglomerate’s view of the future of unicorn health, and notes on the conclusion of the SoftBank Vision Fund’s investment into net-new companies.

SoftBank’s earnings have made headlines around the financial and technology press, especially regarding the performance its investments into Uber, an American ride-hailing company, and WeWork, an American coworking startup. The former’s post-IPO performance has led to a lackluster outcome for SoftBank, while the implosion of WeWork after its failed IPO has continued; SoftBank’s reporting noted a new, lower value for WeWork.

The rest of the information painted a picture of mixed outcomes, with SoftBank recording wins in enterprise-focused deals and “Health Tech” investments. Other invested sectors saw less salubrious results, including the three we’ll focus on today: consumer-focused deals, transit-related investments and real estate-related outlays.

Let’s explore what SoftBank had to say about each. Then we’ll see what we can infer about the broader startup market itself.

Results

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