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Billionaire Jack Ma quits SoftBank’s board as its Vision Fund posts a record $18 billion loss

Report by Sam Shead

Key Points:

  • Alibaba’s Jack Ma, China’s richest man, is stepping down from the board of SoftBank on June 25.
  • SoftBank’s Vision Fund reported losses of $18 billion on Monday, while the SoftBank Group as a whole had losses of $13 billion.
  • Big bets on companies like Uber, WeWork and Oyo have not paid off for the SoftBank Vision Fund.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma is stepping down from the board of SoftBank after the company’s Vision Fund posted record-breaking losses of $18 billion.

Ma, whose $41.8 billion net worth makes him China’s richest man, is the latest high-profile figure to exit SoftBank Group, which on Monday posted total annual losses of $13 billion for the year ending March 31. Uniqlo founder Tadashi Yanai stepped down from SoftBank’s board in December, while Nidec founder Shigenobu Nagamori stepped down in 2017.

Son said that Ma decided to leave SoftBank’s board “on his own”. He added: “That’s sad, but we still keep in contact directly and right before the Covid-19, we met face-to-face every month to have dinner, to talk about businesses, to talk about lives. And we will remain friends for the rest of our life, I believe.”

Ma has become increasingly focused on education philanthropy over the last year. He stepped down as Alibaba’s chairman last September and there’s speculation that he’ll quit Alibaba’s board later this year.

Ma’s departure (effective June 25) comes after SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son pivoted away from telecoms to backing new companies through the colossal $100 billion Vision Fund, which was launched in 2017.

In total, the Vision Fund has backed 88 start-ups with a total of $75 billion. The Vision Fund, which counts Apple and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund among its contributors, is in poor health because a number of its biggest bets have turned out to be disasters.

An enormous $9 billion bet on WeWork turned out to be a very bad move after the office space provider imploded, spectacularly, months before the coronavirus wreaked havoc with global economies. With dozens of multi-story offices empty around the world, WeWork’s situation is

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