Nov 9, 2020

Startup investor SoftBank posts mixed Q2 financial results

SoftBank
Startups
William Smith
2 min
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has released financial results for the second quarter of the 2020 financial year
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has released financial results for the second quarter of the 2020 financial year...

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has released financial results for the second quarter of the 2020 financial year.

Despite its many interests, SoftBank is likely best known for its Vision Fund investment vehicles, which have seen it invest early in emerging technology companies that have gone on to huge success. Examples include Chinese firm ByteDance, owner of the video-sharing app TikTok, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba and ride-hailing firm Uber.

Highlights of the results included a $13.5bn net gain on SoftBank’s investments in its two vision funds, with the first fund now being worth $76.4bn. The second, purportedly AI-focused firm is now worth $7.6bn, up from the $2.6bn spent on its investments.

Also revealed was the outcome of SoftBank’s bets on technology stock options. Back in September, the company attracted controversy by putting billions of dollars into shares and equity derivatives tied to technology firms’ continued success. That was doubtless inspired by the untethering of the US stock market from the economic reality on the COVID-19-hit ground, with tech giant Apple becoming the first $2trn US company and others such as Tesla continuing to defy expectations.

SoftBank’s shares closed down 7% on the day the activities were revealed, with investor jitters born out by the fact that the company has now sustained a $1.3bn loss from those bets.

The results nevertheless represent something of a return to form for the company, which has experienced difficulty in recent times after a number of its investments turned sour. The most prominent example of this was WeWork’s failed IPO, the results of which were the ousting of CEO Adam Neumann, a mass devaluation, and SoftBank acquiring an 80% stake in the organisation. That led to CEO Masoyashi Son referring to the investment as “foolish”, and setting out a new path for the company to follow. 

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Jun 18, 2021

Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR

Microsoft
NASCAR
3 min
Racing fans can expect the ultimate virtual experience as a result of the partnership with Microsoft and NASCAR

Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).

These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack. 

“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”

“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”

“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR

  • Empower employees productivity and collaboration
  • Improve fan engagement and experience
  • Improve environment security and IT productivity
  • Improve racing operations

 

Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.

“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”

“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives. 

“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.

Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”

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