Given the sharp upwards price moves in stocks we’ve seen this year in companies that struggle to make profits, it is perhaps of little surprise that SoftBank’s gigantic $105bn Vision Fund portfolio has done rather well in the past quarter.
From the FT’s Kana Inagaki:
SoftBank’s Vision Fund has notched its best performance since its launch in 2017 even as the group’s new trading arm racked up losses of $2.7bn from its “Nasdaq whale” trades in the final quarter of 2020.
The Japanese tech conglomerate’s two Vision Funds reported a $13bn rise in the valuation of their investment holdings during the three months to December, boosted primarily by the rise in holdings of ride-hailing group Uber and DoorDash, the recently listed food delivery group.
And that news meant, of course, that we were treated to yet another round of SoftBank slides, featuring their usual mix of aggressive symbolism and faint grey legalese in size 6 font.
The metaphor this time? A goose laying golden eggs. The goose being big bird Masayoshi Son’s tech conglomerate, and the eggs being their investments.
It wasn’t just one slide in the 144-page deck either, but more than dozen, including a 13-slide run between pages 109 and 122. Here are a few gems from that sequence which, when viewed in quick succession, become rather hypnotic. Like one of those flip-book comics, but for tortured financial metaphors.
Of course, the biology here is a little weird. Are the eggs already golden when they’re laid? Or is the SoftBank goose an intermediary animal that swallows another bird’s eggs and, thanks to some unseen alchemy, gives them more value when they emerge out the other side of the beast? We don’t really want know to be honest. (Also, where’s the WeWork egg?)
Jokes aside, the fact the Vision Fund portfolio is finally performing after a tumultuous three years does show that SoftBank’s aggressive approach to late-stage private investing has something to it. Though given what else has been going on in global markets, whether that’s down to luck or skill is much harder to parse.