In the wake of Uber’s stumbling public value and WeWork’s failed IPO, Masayoshi Son, the CEO and chairman of SoftBank Corp., said the results of his tech investing have made him both “embarrassed and impatient.”
“The results still have a long way to go and that makes me embarrassed and impatient,” Son said in an interview with Nikkei Business, which was first reported in the U.S. by the likes of Bloomberg and Fortune.
“I used to envy the scale of the markets in the U.S. and China, but now you see red-hot growth companies coming out of small markets like in Southeast Asia,” Son added. “There is just no excuse for entrepreneurs in Japan, myself included.”
SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund has bet big on companies like Uber, WeWork, Slack and real estate companies like Opendoor and Compass. Uber’s stock, since going public, has dropped from $45 per share to below $30 per share. Slack, opened at $26 per share, surged to nearly $40 per share on its first day of direct trading, but has since fallen back down to below $25 per share.
WeWork has had its public struggles, canceling a planned IPO after the company’s big losses were revealed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Ultimately, the company’s founder and CEO Adam Neuman stepped out of the chief executive role last month.
In the wake of the WeWork news, SoftBank is reportedly failing to attract investors to its second Vision Fund, according to a report from Reuters.
Son also preached investor patience on companies like Slack and Uber, which have failed to post profits. Compass, according to a SoftBank source, does have a path to profitability and discussions on becoming profitable are taking place at a high level, according to the source.
“Companies like WeWork and Uber are criticized for being in the red, but in 10 years they’ll be making substantial profits,” Son told Nikkei Business.
Viewed by many analysts as free-spending, as evidenced by the rapid growth of companies like Compass, which has expanded into more than a dozen new markets since receiving its first funding round from Softbank in 2017, Son has more recently signaled increased caution.
“Recently, I’ve been telling founders to ‘know your limit,’” Son told Nikkei Business. “Knowing your limitations will help unleash limitless possibilities.”