The future of SoftBank
What SoftBank’s Masa does next
软银的 Masa 接下来会做什么
Can the coronavirus-induced digital revolution restore Son Masayoshi’s reputation for investing brilliance?
EARLIER THIS year the covid-19 pandemic brought SoftBank Group to its knees. As bondholders fled heavily indebted firms, the junk-rated Japanese tech conglomerate looked shaky. In March its flamboyant boss, Son Masayoshi, announced a $41bn sale of assets to return to stability.
Mr Son has since regained his footing—or at least his chutzpah—enumerating the upsides of coronavirus lockdowns for his firm. The “new normal”, in which meetings, food delivery, education, medical care, shopping and entertainment are mediated online, he said in September, is a boon to SoftBank. He has long invested around a grand vision of a digital transformation and ubiquitous artificial intelligence (AI). Covid-19 means it is coming to pass much more rapidly than expected. Having mostly dumped its telecoms activities outside Japan, SoftBank is wholly devoted to Mr Son’s technophilic passions.
此后，孙正义重新确立了自己的地位，列举了冠状病毒居家隔离对自己公司的好处。他在9月份表示，这种“新常态”使会议，食品配送，教育，医疗，购物和娱乐在网上得以实现，这对软银是一个福音。长期以来，他一直围绕数字化转型和人工智能 （AI） 的宏伟愿景进行投资。软银将剥离电信业务，全心致力于孙正义的技术热情。
The digital surge is helping the group’s underperforming Vision Fund, a $99bn tech-investing vehicle. The fund started deploying capital in 2017 in a cloud of hype and optimism but lost its way as a result of a few spectacular failures, most notably the implosion of WeWork, an office-subleasing firm masquerading as a tech platform.
数字浪潮正在帮助该集团的愿景基金（Vision Fund），愿景基金表现不佳，它是一家价值990亿美元的技术投资工具。2017年，该基金在一片炒作和乐观情绪的笼罩下开始配置资本，但由于一些惊人的失败而迷失了方向，尤其是伪装成科技平台的办公室租赁公司 WeWork 的爆雷。
Even though SoftBank contributed only $28bn of the Vision Fund’s capital (equal to around 12% of the Japanese firm’s assets at the time), the mishaps hurt its share price and Mr Son’s reputation as a brilliant investor. That reputation was acquired after his purchase, starting in 2000, of a 34% stake in a Chinese e-commerce startup called Alibaba, now China’s most valuable listed company. The pandemic has hurt valuations of some Vision Fund firms in industries such as hospitality and transport. Mr Son has struggled to raise outside money for a sequel, Vision Fund 2, which was aiming for $108bn in capital but now makes do with small sums from SoftBank. 尽管软银对愿景基金仅出资280亿美元（相当于当时日本公司资产的12％），当这场小灾难却损害了其股价和孙正义作为出色投资者的声誉。从2000年开始，他收购了一家名为阿里巴巴（Alibaba）的中国电子商务初创公司34%的股份，而阿里巴巴目前是中国最有价值的上市公司，由此孙正义在投资界声名鹊起。新冠病毒大流行损害了视觉基金公司在酒店和运输等行业的估值。孙正义一直在努力筹集外部资金，用于愿景基金2（Vision Fund 2），该基金的目标是1080亿美元的资金，但现在只能靠软银（SoftBank）的小额资金来维持。
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