Bloomberg Línea — In the midst of strong cost-cutting measures, including layoffs in some divisions, SoftBank is vacating its remaining offices to operate from WeWork shared spaces, people familiar with the matter but who preferred not to be identified because the discussions are private told Bloomberg Línea.
SoftBank declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Bloomberg Línea.
Today, a large part of SoftBank’s offices in Latin America and other regions already operate from WeWork spaces, as in Mexico City. Employees have two badges: one from SoftBank, and WeWork’s signature black card, which allows them to access any public spaces in properties operated around the world by the company founded by Adam Neumann.
Read more on SoftBank’s layoffs and its LatAm’s operations:
In March of last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that SoftBank was looking to expand its Miami offices by 100,000 square feet, according to sources in the city’s real estate industry. At the time, SoftBank confirmed to the WSJ that it would seek an expansion of its Miami space, but did not go into detail.
Now, the situation is different. According to people familiar with the discussions at SoftBank, the guideline to move employees to work from WeWork offices is global, and is motivated by the creation of the joint venture.
On SoftBank’s website, the Miami office address appears as 200 S. Biscayne Boulevard. Felice Gorordo, CEO of eMerge Americas, told Bloomberg Línea in March this year that when SoftBank decided to invest big in Latin America with the Latin America Fund in 2019, the chosen headquarters was Miami.
“There is no doubt that the two are linked in the venture capital correlation. If you compare venture capital activity in South Florida with Latin America, there were times when we were literally together,” Gorordo said.
Not far from Biscayne Boulevard, SoftBank’s office with WeWork today is in Brickell City Center.
The move in Miami will send shockwaves across a real estate market that is red hot thanks in part to the arrival of some tech companies, some of them funded by SoftBank itself.
One of them, Picstart, opened its South Florida headquarters in Miami Beach this year, Bloomberg News reported.
The JV with WeWork
SoftBank took over WeWork’s operations in May last year through a joint venture. The JV was a climactic event in the relationship between SoftBank and WeWork with Bolivian venture capital investor Marcelo Claure, formerly SoftBank’s COO, taking over as president when Neumann was ousted as CEO in 2019.
Claure was a key player in the venture capital ecosystem in Latin America when he convinced Masayoshi Son, the Japanese giant investment fund’s billionaire founder and chairman, to look at the region by leading the SoftBank Latin America Fund.
But when Claure left the Japanese conglomerate earlier this year due to a disagreement over his remuneration, among other reasons, SoftBank carried out a game of musical chairs among key executive positions overseeing SoftBank’s operations in the region.
With Claure’s departure, the conglomerate transferred responsibility for its Latin American funds to Indian executive Rajeev Misra, who managed Vision. But in July Misra announced he was leaving part of his position to set up his own investment vehicle.
Alex Szapiro and Juan Franck, SoftBank’s new leaders for Latin America, replaced senior executives Paulo Passoni and Shu Nyatta, hired by Marcelo Claure, who also left SoftBank this year.
Today, Passoni says he is on a 199-day ‘garden leave’. He lives in Sag Harbor, New York.
Layoffs and cost-cutting
SoftBank laid off 10 people from its Latin America team in late September, 18.86% of the Vision Fund operation in the region (from 53 to 43 people), a person familiar with the matter, and who preferred not to be identified because the discussions are private, told Bloomberg Línea.
Also, Bloomberg Línea learned that the layoffs in the region and globally won’t stop there, as more are expected in the coming weeks.
Globally, there were about 150 people affected at Vision Fund, just under 30% of the company’s total, according to the source, following cost cuts that the Japanese conglomerate’s founder Masayoshi Son had already announced at the last results meeting after a record loss of $23 billion.