It is no longer a secret that the year 2016 was an abysmal one for Indian startups; Funding dried up, valuations dropped, and if this all wasn’t enough, the Indian government surprised them towards the end by springing the demonetisation challenge on them. This downslide in the Indian startup scene has proved to be a major bummer for Japan’s SoftBank.
According to recently released data, the Japanese telecom and internet giant has registered a whopping $350 million in losses from its investments in two of the most famous startups in India — Snapdeal and Ola — for the nine months period that ended December 31 last year.
The data made publicly available reveals that as of December 2016, SoftBank has lost 39,281 million Japanese yen ($350 million) in losses as against the 108,426 million Japanese yen ($968 million) profit it made in the comparable last year. Jasper Infotech Private Limited and ANI Technologies are the holding companies of Snapdeal and Ola respectively.
“Gain or loss arising from financial instruments at FVTPL comprises mainly of changes in fair value of preferred stock investment including embedded derivatives, such as ANI Technologies and Jasper Infotech Private Limited in India, designated as financial assets at FVTPL,” said SoftBank in a filing following the company’s quarterly results.
In the six month period between April to September, 2016, SoftBank had registered a loss of $550 million from its investments in India’s homegrown startup biggies Ola and Snapdeal.
It is important to note that these figures do not necessarily reflect the actual performance of Ola and Snapdeal as one also needs to take into account the context of currency fluctuations and accounting norms.
Both Ola and Snapdeal have been on a lookout for raising additional rounds of financing but are finding it hard to surpass the valuations hurdle. Cab-aggregator Ola, which is giving global giant Uber a tough competition in the Indian subcontinent has been looking to raise around $400-500 million but has been unable to do so far as it is finding difficult to capture investors’ interest at its $5 billion valuation. Similarly, homebred ecommerce biggie Snapdeal is also scouting investors to raise an additional funding round.
Three years ago, in 2014, SoftBank decided to become the majority shareholder in Snapdeal and invested a whopping $627 million. In August 2016, the ecommerce company successfully raised $500 million in fresh funds largely from China’s Alibaba Group, Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group and its existing investor Softbank Group. The company last raised funds this month reportedly to the tune of $200 million in a funding round led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan of Canada.
Let’s see if SoftBank is able to bounce back and continue its interest in the Indian startup market.