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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

SoftBank Vision Fund posted a nearly $18 billion operating loss for the fiscal year ended in March, and wrote down about 75% of its WeWork investment — but who cares if it managed overall gains of $9.6 billion, right? At least, that's the message SoftBank execs are expected to deliver to investors later today in a briefing focused on the two Vision Funds, according to a source familiar with the fund.

Why it matters: SoftBank famously raised about $100 billion in 2017 to back big tech unicorns, but disappointing bets like WeWork and Brandless raised questions about Vision Fund's, well, vision.

What they're saying: Since telling investors in May that it expects about 15 of its portfolio companies to go bankrupt, SoftBank now points out that some have raised new funding, all with lead investors not named SoftBank.

  • Some had up rounds, like Fanatics, goPuff, and Rappi.
  • Yes, but: Getaround, the peer-to-peer car rental company, saw its valuation drop to $700 million in its latest financing from $1.4 billion in the prior round. To be fair, the company was struggling even before the pandemic, yet managed to find its footing in the recent months.
  • Tokopedia had a pretty flat round, while Zymergen had a modest bump in valuation.

Meanwhile, SoftBank's second Vision fund is much smaller — $10 billion at the moment — and entirely financed by its parent company.

  • During Monday's earnings presentation, chairman Masayoshi Son told journalists SoftBank is "open always to third-party investors but at the moment we are not that popular yet."
  • The source familiar with the Vision Fund's operations tells Axios that the challenge is finding good deals, not capital. Once it exhausts the initial $10 billion, Vision Fund 2 may turn to outside investors.

What's next: Hopefully it'll be filing for its SPAC soon...

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

NBA signals further interest in private equity funding

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The National Basketball Association is opening the door a little wider for private equity funds, which to date have been largely excluded from investing in its franchises.

Driving the news: The league's board of governors has approved a framework whereby a PE fund could own up to 20% in a single franchise, and stakes in up to five franchises, as first reported by Sportico and confirmed by Axios.

Updated 11 mins ago - Sports

MLB enters first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is in a management lockout — the first work stoppage since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.