SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son gave a wildly optimistic presentation about making WeWork profitable

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son stands before an optimistic turnaround chart for WeWork.

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SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son stands before an optimistic turnaround chart for WeWork.
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KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images

  • SoftBank published its financials for the July to September quarter on Wednesday, posting a big loss thanks to the poor performance of its investments in WeWork and Uber.
  • CEO Masayoshi Son is known for giving idiosyncratic presentations filled with expressive images, wild graphs, and inspirational quotes.
  • He didn’t disappoint during his financial presentation on Wednesday.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, the man overseeing the $100 billion Vision Fund, has something of a reputation for wild pitch decks. In 2010, he famously laid out a 300-year vision over a set of slides full of inspirational quotes and whimsical musings on the nature of love.

The Japanese magnate and investor hasn’t disappointed with his latest set of slides.

In a financial presentation for SoftBank’s July-to-September quarter on Wednesday, Son directly acknowledged the financial damage wrought by his firm’s multi-billion dollar bet on office-sharing firm WeWork, describing it as the “WeWork problem.”

SoftBank’s financials indicated that its combined loss on the value of its WeWork shares came to $8.2 billion.

WeWork was headed to IPO and worth an estimated $47 billion, but experienced a disastrous few months after reporters scrutinized its governance, business model, and the behaviour of cofounder Adam Neumann. The firm cancelled its IPO, and Neumann stepped down as CEO. SoftBank took control of the firm in October in a $9.5 billion rescue package.

But Son, per his presentation, is optimistic SoftBank can turn the firm around.

Here are the key slides. You can see Son’s full presentation here.


Masayoshi Son opened his presentation by acknowledging the WeWork fiasco. “We are actually in a rough sea,” he said.

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SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.
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Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

He showed a picture of a rough sea to make his point.

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SoftBank

The rough sea is overlaid with headlines in Japanese about SoftBank and WeWork.

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Son said: “There [is a lot of] media coverage here and there, especially in the past two months. ‘SoftBank may go bankrupt. Vision Fund is a big negative. Uber is in terrible share price after the IPO. WeWork may go bankrupt. And SoftBank is actually putting further money into this company so that it can go bankrupt altogether so that all the aggressive investment activity has been failed.’ Such coverage… In a sense, it may be true.”


Son took on the elephant in the room — SoftBank’s bet on WeWork and how much it cost the company

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“My judgment in investment was not right in many ways, so I regret [that] in many ways,” he said.


He dug into how much SoftBank lost on WeWork

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Its combined loss on its WeWork shares was $8.2 billion across the Vision Fund and SoftBank Group.


After questions about how highly WeWork was valued, Son showed this slide explaining the Vision Fund’s valuation process

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SoftBank’s aggressive approach to valuations has raised eyebrows. WeWork, for example, was valued at $47 billion at its peak. And one of SoftBank’s executives once said the office-sharing firm could be worth $100 billion.

According to SoftBank’s financials, it’s actually now worth around $8 billion.


Son acknowledged that WeWork is a massively loss-making business, pointing to its low gross profits and high operating costs…

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…but he has a plan

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But check out the small print. It reads: “There can be no assurance that the strategy of SBG set forth herein will be successful.”

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But if it is successful, here’s how he thinks WeWork’s profits will look

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One Twitter user, described the slide thus: “Masa is a goddamn comic genius… this gold from from his latest deck.”


…again, it comes with small print

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It reads: “This hypothetical illustration is provided solely for illustrative purposes, reflects the current beliefs of SBG as of the date hereof, and is based on a variety of assumptions and estimates…

“Accordingly, actual results may differ materially from the hypothetical illustration presented herein. For the avoidance of doubt, this illustration does not reflect actual results or metrics from the company.”


Once gross profit and those massive operating expenses are sorted out, Son anticipates profitability

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Look at that hockey stick!

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And after this turnaround plan, it will be back to calm seas

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Son said: “We don’t see any rough sea. It’s just the gentle waves in the sea.”

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The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images