Sep 7, 2020

SoftBank bets on tech stock options; share price falls

Vision Fund
stock market
William Smith
2 min
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has been putting billions into shares and equity derivatives tied to technology firms in a bet on their continued success
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has been putting billions into shares and equity derivatives tied to technology firms in a bet on their continued success...

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has been putting billions into shares and equity derivatives tied to technology firms in a bet on their continued success.

According to the Financial Times, SoftBank made $4bn in trading gains from $4bn of options.

With an exposure of $50bn generated from the options, Reuters reported that SoftBank shares closed down 7% as investors worried about the decline in the US stock market. Previous to that, SoftBank shares had gone up by 33% this year.

A selloff in US stocks has seen the S&P 500 fall by 4.3% over the last two sessions, reversing a trend of huge growth that has seen Apple become the first $2trn US company, and companies such as Tesla continue to defy expectations.

SoftBank is perhaps best known for its Vision Fund, an investment vehicle that saw it take stakes in then emerging technology companies such as ByteDance (owner of video-sharing app TikTok) and Uber. SoftBank is the largest technology investor in Japan and also arguably the world, with its more recent Vision Fund 2 said to have a specific focus on companies advancing the cause of artificial intelligence.

The Japanese group has experienced difficulty in recent times, as some of its investments have turned sour. Most prominent among these was WeWork’s failed IPO, which saw CEO Adam Neumann ousted, a mass devaluation of the company, and SoftBank acquiring an 80% stake in the company. CEO Masoyashi Son referred to the investment as “foolish”, and has since mandated a new approach for the company in the future.

Elsewhere, SoftBank is participating in the rescue deal of satellite operator OneWeb, taking an $87mn stake in the company alongside a consortium of the UK government and India’s Bharti Global. SoftBank was the company’s largest shareholder before it allowed it to file for bankruptcy in March. 

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May 14, 2021

Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF

U.S Air Force
Dark Wolf Solutions
2 min
Dark Wolf Solutions is small and agile, its partnership with the US Air Force is helping to deliver critical security faster and better than ever before

As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.

The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”

It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.

“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”

The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”

Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.

“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”

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