Today’s Pickup: Softbank culture steeped in ‘vintage macho belligerence’

Good day,

Executives helming the powerhouse Softbank Vision Fund fostered a “workplace culture steeped in vintage Wall Street macho belligerence,” according to an exposé published in Bloomberg Businessweek.

The investigation, posted on Dec. 19, cites example after example of bad behavior on the part of the team leading the $100 billion fund, which has invested heavily in autonomous vehicles and is best known as the backer of the co-working startup debacle WeWork.

Several of the incidents described in the report involved Softank’s chief financial officer, Navneet Govil. In one instance Govil apparently told a Mormon worker in 2017 to “go back to Utah to get more wives.”

On another occasion he berated an accountant in front of other employees, bringing her to tears. Both employees reportedly left the company after the incidents.

According to Bloomberg, Govil was also heard saying that “Chinese people sound stupid.” 

The report said when Softbank was considering an investment in Peloton in 2017, managing partner Jeff Housenbold suggested the fitness brand’s workout videos appealed to men for masturbation purposes.

SoftBank led a $940 million raise for autonomous vehicle company Nuro, as well as a $2.25 billion investment in GM’s (NYSE: GM) autonomous vehicle venture, Cruise Automation LLC.

Did you know?

New U.S. trailer orders of 21,200 were down 43% month-over-month in November, and after accounting for cancellations, net orders of 19,800 dropped 38%, after hitting their fourth consecutive sequential rise in October. 

Source: ACT Research


“We expected an upward trajectory at least, and it really kind of deflated. These companies aren’t dying but the cultural zeitgeist, that momentum of IPOs, is gone. You don’t even hear anyone talking about it anymore.”

— Herman Chan, a real estate broker with Sotheby’s International, quoted in The New York Times  

In other news

Battery-electric bus hits streets of San Diego

A two-year pilot program to put electric buses on the street rolled out this week by the Metropolitan Transit District  (TimesofSanDiego)

Global research firm names Einride a Game Changer 2020

The autonomous trucking startup was one of three sustainable shippers in the CBInsights Game Changers 2020 report identifying autonomous trucking startups with world-changing potential.(CBInsights) 

Guardian Optical Technologies adds new safety features to sensor

The functionalities include measuring a drivers’ eyelids to determine microsleep, grip on steering wheel andengagement with the entertainment system. (PRNewswire)

Wine trucking firm shifts into entrepreneurial gear as California’s new labor law looms

About half of Yandell Truckaway’s 100 drivers have been independent contractors, drivers who own their trucks and haul most of their loads for the company. (Sonomanews)

Final thoughts,

Leaked emails obtained by Business Insider indicate that Tesla is having a tough time getting its cars delivered on time and has asked employees across the company to help with delivery during the final weeks of 2019. The company has faced delivery pressures before, even as it scales up deliveries. Tesla has set quarterly delivery records in eight of the past nine quarters and expects to do the same in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Hammer down, everyone!