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SoftBank, disruptor or hothead?

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Kereitsu of modern times, Softbank has pioneered with its Vision Fund an Innovation at scale strategy powered by an aggressive venture investments. It has thus opened an alternative way to GAFAM’s model that relied primarily on an organic technology model amplified by some bolt-on M&A.

SoftBank’s transformation case is particularly interesting at a time when the European startups and innovation ecosystems need to catch-up with American and Asian palyers and many Corporates are entering in « coopetition » with Investment funds, launching or reinventing their ventures set-up in order to address their innovation at scale challenge.

For sure, like all disruptors Softbank has been somewhat extreme in its approach (especially in terms of risk aversion, fundraising, inflationary valuation) and not always exemplary in its practices (CSR, governance, financial disclosure...). Nevertheless we are witnessing some interesting read-across for European players, especially as vision, risk taking and entrepreneurial approaches are critical success factors in the new economy.

This study helps to put into perspective the SoftBank strategy which seems not to be working as expected, and to draw some lines of reflection. It helps to understand and appreciate better the limits between financial and operational valuation, and explains one of the dilemmas of innovation, between financing and turnover.

Study plan

  1. Introduction: who is who?
  2. A bold vision for the world : how SoftBank became the largest fund ever
  3. The SoftBank recipe: what is the SoftBank secret sauce(s)?
  4. SoftBank broke the VC playbook: its strengths happen to also be its achilles heel.
  5. The future of Vision Fund depends on the strength of the tech ecosystem.

Study excerpt