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At the beginning of 2020, it looked like Indian startups were spoilt for choice when it came to choosing an investor. By one estimate, there was more than $7 billion $7 billion The Economic Times VCs start new calendar year with $7 billion left to invest Read more  of dry powder in terms of reserves across funds that invest in India. Every segment of the funding spectrum—from seed-stage to Series C and beyond—seemed to have a number of service providers. 

But two developments completely altered this scenario.

The Vision Fund losing sight

Firstly, Japanese investment powerhouse SoftBank SoftBank The Ken The SoftBank fault line Read more is no longer the force of nature it was in the last few years. The debacle with WeWork was swiftly followed by bad news on multiple fronts. 

Activist shareholders putting pressure pressure Reuters Elliott presses SoftBank to identify $10 billion of investments it holds: sources Read more on the holding company to buy back shares and pare debt. Sharp write-downs in the value of shares in companies like Uber and portfolio firms like OneWeb declaring bankruptcy bankruptcy Spaceflight Now OneWeb files for bankruptcy Read more . Rumours of a civil war civil war The Information Inside the Vision Fund’s Civil War: Deal Conflicts, Leak Suspicions Read more  between the firm’s executives. 

SoftBank found itself in an unenviable position of having to cannibalise itself by selling off its crown jewels—its holdings in companies like Alibaba Alibaba Reuters SoftBank to raise over $11 billion for buybacks using Alibaba shares Read more and T-Mobile T-Mobile CNN SoftBank to sell $21 billion worth of T-Mobile stock Read more —to shore things up. Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s founder, had to even recently step down step down The Wall Street Journal SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son Quits Alibaba Board Read more from the Alibaba board.

AUTHOR

Sumanth Raghavendra

Sumanth is a serial entrepreneur with more than eighteen years experience in running startups. He is currently the founder of Deck App Technologies, a Bangalore-based startup attempting to re-imagine productivity software for the Post-PC era. Sumanth’s columns appear regularly in leading publications. He holds MBA degrees from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, USA.

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