SoftBank seeks control of cash-burning startup WeWork: Report

By MarketsFOXBusiness

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Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank is considering upping its stake in shared workspace provider WeWork, according to multiple media reports.

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SoftBank is in talks to invest as much as $20 billion in the 8-year old New York-based startup, according to a Wall Street Journal report. SoftBank invested more than $4 billion in WeWork last year, which would give it a controlling stake in the business.

SoftBank generally takes minority stakes in late-stage startups, as noted by Reuters. For example, the firm purchased a large number of shares in ride-sharing service Uber late last year for a minority share.

However, the investment is likely to come from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, which has nearly $100 billion at its disposal. The fund focuses on putting cash into “businesses and foundational platforms that SoftBank believes will enable the next age of innovation and make tomorrow's world possible.”

WeWork declined to comment on the report. A spokesperson for SoftBank did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment.

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While WeWork has attempted to position itself as a tech company, critics say it’s more akin to a real estate business, potentially vulnerable to volatile movements in that market. While the company said revenue in the first half of 2018 more than doubled to about $764 million, losses accelerated even faster, clocking in at $723 million. In 2017, the company said its net losses amounted to more than $930 million.

But that hasn’t stopped other investors from betting on the company as it uses acquired funds to lease new properties for clients. Other backers include JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and T. Rowe Price Associates, while enterprise customers include Microsoft, Facebook, General Motors and Starbucks.