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The Softbank Vision Fund visualized: the investors, their investments, their co-investments, and how they're connected

2 weeks ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in IPO, Startups

SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son's Vision Fund ($SOFTBANK-VISION-FUND) is, by most measures, the most exciting tech-focused fund in the world. The $100 billion fund was, not too long ago, heralded as a genius vision of the future with large investments in some the fastest-growing startups like Uber, Slack, and OYO. Even a year ago those investments would be considered solid, even prophetic.

But this week, direct-to-consumer company Brandless ($BRANDLESS) cut 90% of its staff and ceased operations despite a $240 million Vision Fund-led round from 2018. And before that, when WeWork went under analysts' microscopes before a planned IPO, investors cooled off. Last month, OYO, which was once the fastest-growing hotel brand in the world and has $600 million in investments from The Vision Fund, announced it would cut jobs.

And now, analysts are worried that SoftBank can't makeup ground it lost in 2019. Even more so, some are worried that The Vision Fund's investments aren't as sound as they once thought they were. The fund's $10 billion bailout of WeWork sent some curious signals to that end.

So one has to wonder: What other companies — and investors — are potentially implicated in The Vision Fund's house of cards? After all, if Vision Fund companies continue to stumble and even fail, the one-time blessing of Son may become a curse.

We took a look at The Vision Fund's investments along with who led the investments. We also looked at other companies — and parties — that may soon find The Vision Fund's gaffs too close for comfort. We then visualized it all using our new knowledge-graph tool KGBase. What we found blew our minds, so we wanted to share it with you. Here's what we're seeing.

70 Nodes of Vision, 592 investments

We visualized hundreds of companies, investors, and investment rounds to gain a visual understanding of the vast network that is the Softbank Vision Fund. As you can see above, it touches many people and companies at various levels: who is SoftBank invested in, what kind of funding has been closed, and, as we'll see below, who is implicated in the success — or failure — of both the companies and their investors.

344 co-investors and their investments

On a simple, flat level, this visualization shows 704 of the relationships in which SoftBank has played a financial hand. Focusing in on OYO, for instance, shows that while Softbank has played a major role in funding the recently distressed hotel chain, several other funds and investors are also tied to the company. In other wods, if Softbank's interest in OYO wanes, Greenoaks Capital, which played a hand in a Series E round, may also look for an early exit.

The co-investor house of cards

It stands to reason that if a heavily leveraged co-investor in a company that has benefitted from the VIsion Fund looks for an out — either by choice or necessity — in a Vision Fund company, that co-investors other investments may be at risk of reconsideration. This facet of this knowledge graph, then, shows which co-investors may be at risk along with the companies in which they are also invested.

While we didn't assess the risk of those relationships, nor do we rate the size or nature of those relationships beyond what is publicly available, this visualization is a fascinating look at how hundreds of companies, their investors, their co-investors, and those co-investors' investment interests are precariously tied together.

Have a look around, and let us know if we've missed anything at KGbase.

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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