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SoftBank is back with another set of Microsoft Paint-level graphics

May 18, 2020, 1:58 PM UTC

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Even if SoftBank disappoints its investors with its earnings, it has consistently done entertainingly well on one thing: earnings presentations with early-2000s formatting and Microsoft Paint-level Photoshopping, featuring graphs ending up and to the right.

The company lately decided to explain its projections around startups with more of its (in)famous charts during its earnings report Monday. Portfolio companies including ride-hailing company Uber and space-sharing company WeWork have struggled amid the coronavirus.

Here are a few startups galloping up a hill, fine as can be:

A close up of a logo

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But suddenly, they come across a coronavirus trough:

One of the three survives, not as a unicorn, but as a flying pegasus—with no details on how exactly it plans to achieve that.

A picture containing food

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The idea isn’t completely out of wack, even if the graphics are atypical of a multibillion corporation. Venture capital investors expect most startups to fail as long as one gold star rises to exceed losses. It’s just that few have gone as far as SoftBank, plowing nearly $100 billion into the space through such a short period of time—nor is it common for a single fund to take a near ETF-like approach to investing in competing companies, such as three competing Latin American food delivery companies

From inception to March 31, 2020, SoftBank’s losses are exceeding its gains. SoftBank’s Vision Fund portfolio has roughly 88 companies—and made money on 26 investments and marked down 47, according to the company, posting an unrealised loss of nearly $18 billion in the year to March.

The wider SoftBank Group meanwhile is shoring up cash: The telecom giant plans to sell billions of shares in Alibaba and is now reportedly in talks to sell part of its T-Mobile stake to controlling shareholder Deutsche Telekom. Under pressure from Elliot Management, SoftBank has said it plans to sell as much as $41 billion in assets.

The new world order: The annual Fortune 500 list published today, and leading the FAANGs is Amazon. The e-commerce and cloud titan leapt past Apple and Exxon Mobil in the rankings to reach No.2 on the list—its highest ranking ever after revenues grew by some $48 billion during the year while Apple struggled with profits in China. 

But overtaking the leader on the list, Walmart, could take a few years yet if Amazon continues to grow at its pace. Walmart earned $524 billion in 2019 compared to Amazon’s $264.9 billion.

Uber meanwhile joined the list for the first time after debuting in public markets last year, ranking at No. 228.

People are lonely: And new social media players see an in. Gamer-centric chat startup Discord is reportedly seeking a fresh round of funding amid soaring demand that would value the company at above $3 billion, according to Bloomberg. Another red-hot though less-proven company, Clubhouse, is raising $10 million in Series A funding from Andreessen Horowitz, per Forbes. Both connect communities through spontaneous voice chat—and both are likely seeking to break out of their molds in order to grow in the mainstream. Discord, known for its gamer-centric base, is increasingly being used for dance classes or study groups. And while Clubhouse attracted the tech community early on, it is now apparently seeking celebrities to join.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


- Monzo, the U.K.-based fintech, plans to raise funding at a valuation of £1.25 billion ($1.5 billion), compared with the more than £2 billion ($2.5 billion) valuation it last achieved, per the Financial Times citing sources. Accel, Y Combinator Continuity and Goodwater Capital back the firm. Read more.

- Sensetime, a Hong Kong-based facial-recognition company, is weighing a $1 billion funding round, per the Wall Street Journal citing sources. Read more.

- Wolt, a Finnish food delivery startup, raised €100 million ($108.2 million) in funding. Existing investors ICONIQ Capital, Highland Europe, 83North and EQT Ventures invested, as did new investor: Goldman Sachs’ Growth Equity unit.

- SQZ Biotech, a Watertown, Mass.-based developer of cell-based therapies, raised $65 million in Series D funding. Temasek led the round, and was joined by investors including GV, Illumina Ventures, Invus, JDRF T1D Fund, NanoDimension, and Polaris Partners.

- Fly Now Pay Later, a U.K.-based travel fintech, raised £35 million (42.5 million) in Series A equity and debt funding. Revenio Capital led the round,and was joined by investors including Shawbrook Bank and BCI Finance.

- Quartz Systems, a San Francisco, Calif.-based construction tech company, raised $7.8 million in pre-seed and seed funding. Baseline Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Felicis Ventures, Lemnos, and Bloomberg Beta.

- Pennylane, a Paris-based fintech real-time management accounting fintech, raised €4 million ($4.3 million) in funding  from Global Founders Capital, Partech and Kima Ventures.

- Mindset Health, an Australia-based hynotherapy startup, raised $1.1 million in funding from investors including Fifty Years, YC, Gelt VC, and Giant Leap VC.


- ArchiMed acquired ActiGraph, a Pensacola, Fla.-based developer of wearable, remote monitoring for academic studies and drug trials. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Net Health, a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group, Level Equity, and Silversmith Capital Partners, acquired Tissue Analytics, a Kansas City, Mo.-based developer of automated mobile wound and skin imaging. Silversmith invested additional equity. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- CVC Capital Partners and Guodong Group are among those shortlisted in a deal for Irrawaddy Green Towers, Myanmar’s biggest telecommunications tower company. The could be worth as much as $800 million, per Reuters citing sources. Read more.

- Archibus + Serraview, a portfolio company of JMI Equity, acquired SpaceIO, a provider of workplace management and operations software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TA Associates invested in Honan Insurance Group, a commercial insurance broker in New Zealand and Australia. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is seeking a $10 billion loan by pledging some of its investment in SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund, Bloomberg reports citing sources. The wealth fund denied the reports. Read more.

- General Atlantic will invest $870 million in Jio Platforms, the Indian telecom giant backed by the likes of Facebook and Silver Lake, taking a 1.34% stake. The company is valued at $65 billion.

- Templafy agreed to acquire Denmark-based Napp, a Denmark-based B2B sales enablement platform. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Accenture (NYSE: ACN) acquired Byte Prophecy, an Indian automated insights and data analytics firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.



- Gavilan Resources, a Houston-based oil-and-gas company formed by Blackstone Group, filed for bankruptcy protection. Read  more.

- Total (EPA: FP) called off a plan to acquire Occidental Petroleum’s assets in Ghana. Read more.

- First Abu Dhabi Bank put on hold discussions to acquire the Egyptian assets of Lebanon’s Bank Audi, per Reuters citing sources. Read more. 


- Inari Medical, a Irvine, Calif.-based medical device company focused on venous diseases, plans to raise $110 million (18% insider bought) by offering 7.3 million shares priced between $14 to $16 apiece. It posted $51 million in revenue for the year ending December, and income of $801,000. USVP (20% pre-offering), Coöperatieve Gilde Healthcare (19.6%), and Versant Ventures (14.9%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “NARI.” Read more.

- Shift4 Payments, a Allentown payment processing company focused on the hospitality sector, filed to raise up to $100 million in an IPO. It posted revenues of $731.4 million in 2019 and losses of $58.1 million. Searchlight Capital Partners backs the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “FOUR.” Read more.

- SelectQuote, an Overland Park, Kan.-based which provides an online DTC insurance platform, plans to raise $450 million in an offering 25 million shares (28% insider sold) priced in the range of $17 to $19. It posted $337.5 million in revenue for the year ending June, and income of $72.3 million. Brookside Equity Partners backs the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as SLQT. Read more.

- Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is considering an IPO of Elm, its Riyadh-based information technology company, per Reuters citing sources. Read more.


- Facebook agreed to acquire Giphy, a New York-based platform for gifs, valuing the company at $400 million, per Axios citing sources. Firms including Betaworks, Lerer Hippeau, IVP, DFJ Growth, GGV Capital, and Lightspeed Venture Partners backed the firm. Read more.

- The Czech government could buy up to 100% of  Smartwings, the owner of Czech Airlines, or offer state-guaranteed loans. Read more.


- EIG Global Energy Partners closed Global Project Fund V with total commitments of $1.1 billion.

- Cohere Capital Partners closed its debut fund, Cohere Capital Fund I, with $200 million.

- Iron Pillar raised $45 million to top up its first fund.


- KKR has picked Gaurav Trehan, a partner from TPG, to head its private equity business in India, per Bloomberg citing sources. Read more.