A senior SoftBank executive wants $ 2 billion in salary. Her boss doesn’t agree.
Impressed by Mr Claure’s ambition and restlessness, Mr Son hired him to lead Sprint, which was losing money, bleeding subscribers, and lagging behind its bigger rivals, AT&T and Verizon. Mr Claure took over as CEO of Sprint after regulators thwarted his plan to merge with T-Mobile. He stabilized the company and ultimately resurrected a deal with T-Mobile in 2018. SoftBank said it has already made more than $ 12 billion on its investment. SoftBank’s investment in Brightstar has been far less profitable and sold its stake last year for several hundred million dollars, three people familiar with the deal said.
In 2019, Mr. Son turned to Mr. Claure for help when another big SoftBank bet turned disastrous. By that time, SoftBank had raised around $ 100 billion for its Vision Fund. With backing from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the tech investment fund – the largest of its kind in the world – has sought equity stakes in cutting-edge tech companies in the United States and around the world.
The fund had bet $ 9 billion on WeWork, the coworking company that was on the verge of bankruptcy after an unsuccessful IPO attempt in the fall. Mr Claure negotiated directly with WeWork co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann severance pay in which he was paid around $ 180 million to relinquish his excessive control of the company’s voting rights.
Mr. Claure then helped recruit Sandeep Mathrani, a real estate industry veteran, to lead WeWork as CEO and put the company on the path to a successful public offering. WeWork eventually went public through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC.
As WeWork stabilized, Mr. Claure spent more time researching the world for new investment opportunities for himself and SoftBank. He personally invested around $ 15 million this year in Sorare, a company that uses so-called non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, to help people bet on fantasy football games, at a valuation of around $ 2 billion. . In September, Sorare announced that SoftBank’s Vision Fund and others had invested there at a valuation of around $ 3.7 billion. Mr. Claure continues to own his stake, according to two people familiar with his investment.
On at least two other occasions, Mr. Claure has personally invested in companies before SoftBank. In April, SoftBank led a $ 1 billion investment in a deal that merged the television content businesses of Grupo Televisa and Univision Communications to create the world’s largest Spanish-language media company. Mr. Claure, who became vice president of the merged entity, had previously invested in Univision alongside SoftBank. Mr. Claure continues to hold his personal stake, which has grown in value in the merged entity.
In another instance, Claure has had several discussions with executives at Binance.US, the U.S. subsidiary of Binance.com, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, according to three people familiar with the discussions. He told them he planned to invest personally and that SoftBank would likely enter its next round of funding. Neither Mr. Claure nor SoftBank ultimately invested in Binance.US.