SoftBank May Tighten the Reins on Start-Up Founders


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After the near-collapse of the office space company WeWork that it’s heavily invested in, SoftBank may be set to clamp down on the freedom afforded to the founders of companies it backs through its Vision Fund.

It’s not just WeWork causing headaches. Other investments made by SoftBank’s nearly $100 billion Vision Fund are also causing problems. “After a sizable bet on online car-lessor Fair, that company is struggling to stay afloat,” the WSJ reports. And the dog-walking app Wag “is for sale, people with knowledge of the companies say.”

Masayoshi Son, the SoftBank C.E.O., defended the Vision Fund’s approach at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month, the FT reports. He said it would continue offering capital to start-ups so they could “grow much bigger and quicker.” He added: “We identify the entrepreneurs who have the greatest vision to solve the unsolvable.”

It starts a yearlong countdown to America’s exit, which would officially pull the U.S. out a day after the 2020 presidential election. (It would make the U.S. the only nation on the planet outside of the agreement.) American participation would ultimately be determined by the outcome of the 2020 election, but re-entry wouldn’t necessarily be straightforward.

The administration cited “unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses and taxpayers” as the reason for the withdrawal. And it argued that the U.S. had “reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy.”

But the economic argument may be short-termist. “Economic damages of unchecked climate change will be astronomical,” MIT Technology Review notes. “In the U.S. alone, climate change could add up to at least hundreds of billions of dollars per year in lost labor productivity, declining crop yields, early deaths, property damage, water shortages, air pollution, flooding, fires and more.”

Other nations are braced for the exit, as the global economic shifts required to overcome climate change will be difficult without the world’s largest superpower on board. And some diplomats fear that Mr. Trump “will begin actively working against global efforts to move away from planet-warming fossil fuels,” Ms. Friedman notes.

More: Over 1,100 Google employees signed a letter demanding that the company commit to eliminating its carbon footprint by 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s giant state-owned oil producer announced plans on Sunday to go public in what could be the largest initial stock offering ever. But questions have risen about the company’s value, writes the NYT’s Stanley Reed.

What we know:

• Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s main policymaker, set a $2 trillion goal for the company’s valuation more than three years ago.



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