For three years, the technology world has been riveted by the seemingly endless cash pouring out of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund into all manner of startups. The promise was to make a series of long-term bets on the potential of new services and technologies.
But lately it’s become clear that at least some of the Vision Fund’s big bets have turned sour. It has lost several billion dollars on WeWork, at least on paper, while its billion-dollar investments in Asian hotel booking chain Oyo, Indian payments firm Paytm and U.S. construction company Katerra look shaky. At least a dozen companies in its portfolio, including Getaround, Zume and Wag, have laid off staff amid mounting business troubles. Senior staff have begun to exit: earlier this week, U.S.-based managing partner Michael Ronen said he was leaving, following partners David Thevenon, Praveen Akkiraju and around 10 midlevel investing and operating staff who have left in recent months.