How Masayoshi Son is Shaking Up Silicon Valley


Masayoshi Son is one of the most influential
dealmakers of our time. “This is Masa of Softbank from Japan.” Son, who goes by Masa, is considered by some
as one of the most brilliant risk takers in venture capital. $32 billion for chipmaker ARM, $9 billion
to Uber, $4.4 billion into WeWork. The list goes on. Others think the chief executive of Softbank
is a wreckless daredevil with a spotty track record. After the dotcom crash he lost more money
than anyone has ever lost in history. $70 billion. “We almost went bankrupt. Somehow I survived.” But love him or hate him, he’s shaking up
Silicon Valley and global investing. Has Masa just been lucky, or is he actually
a genius when it comes to investing in the future of technology? So is he a genius investor? I think the jury is still out but one thing you cannot deny Son is that he certainly seems to have
foresight. Bloomberg tech reporter Pavel Alpeyev has
been covering Masa and Softbank for the last decade. One famous example is… a few years prior
to Apple’s launch of the iphone, Son was visiting with Steve Jobs in California and
offered him sketches of a prototype device that combined the functionality of the ipod
and a mobile phone. Knowing Apple was developing the iphone, Jobs
refused. So Masa got him to agree to exclusive rights
for their product in Japan, bringing Softbank, and Masa, a lot of success. This wasn’t his first big business deal
however. While attending the University of California
at Berkeley he invented a digital translator and sold it to Sharp for 100 million yen or
about $1 million. Using that money, he founded Softbank which
is a household name in Japan that aires popular commercials with Tommy Lee Jones and a dog. For a brief period during the dot-com bubble,
Masa was the world’s richest man …before 99% of his deals failed. At the center of his reputation is one very
important transaction — In 2000 he made a $20 million investment in an unknown Chinese
startup called Alibaba… And a young founder named Jack Ma. “I could tell from the way he talks that he
has charisma, has leadership.” Softbank’s stake in Alibaba is now worth
$138 billion — one of the most lucrative venture investments of all time. One could potentially be lucky. So if you assume that a track record of one
is just lucky, then it certainly casts doubt on Son’s ability to pick winners. Nowadays, Masa is aggressively making investments…
on a massive scale… in tech. He invested in 100-or-so startups in 2017,
including two of the most valuable– Uber and Didi. With both, he used a similar maneuver to close
the deal. Son went publicly on record saying that the
company was considering investing in Uber or Lyft… you know a not so subtle hint at
‘take the money or we’ll find someone else who will. Masa has a distinct deal-making style. He’s known to invite founders to Tokyo for
a formal meeting, followed by a meal… and then offers them a massive amount of money. The picture that we get is that when Son comes
into the room, at this point, his business people know your company through and through,
and he’s there to make an offer. Although he doesn’t acquire controlling
stakes in any of the companies and is generally hands-off… Softbank’s money still comes with comes
with one important condition… Like he told San Diego based robot company
Brain Corp… basically he wants them to reach their goals at an accelerated rate. As Masa pours money into one startup after
another… He has also been lining up some generous backers
for Softbanks’s $100 Billion Vision Fund — the largest investment fund in history
to finance technology startups. He got pledges from Apple’S Tim Cook, Qualcomm,
Foxconn and 1 unexpected place: the Middle East. What’s interesting is the main backer of
the fund is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, who contributed $45 billion. “45 minutes $45 billion… One billion dollars per minute”. Not all investors are on board with his vision. They point to SoftBank’s stock in Alibaba
and other assets, which are worth more than 19 trillion yen but SoftBank’s market cap
is only 9.8 trillion yen. That’s just evidence that a lot of investors
are not buying Son’s future. Critics not only don’t believe Son can pick
the next Alibaba; they’re convinced he’s going to squander what he already has. Whether a believer or not in Masa’s strategy… The investments he’s making now are not
like those he made during the 90s dotcom bubble. They are companies which have already proven
that they can survive. In the end whether Son deserves to be
called a genius investor rather just one with very deep pockets, will probably depend on
his ability to not just deliver a decent return, but also the kind of societal impact that
he aspires to.

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56 thoughts on “How Masayoshi Son is Shaking Up Silicon Valley

  1. Negative interest rate near your bank. Housing mortgage rates Higher in 8 years. New GM suburban 90,000$ only.

  2. Using quite share the full vision of the future that he holds to, but there's a foresight he has that is undeniable. Looking forward to see if the vision fund proves or disproves him.

  3. This dude bought Sprint, ran it into the ground, achieved 1/10th of the success of John Legere over at T-Mobile and now is bailing out his failures and selling to Tmo. If he is a 'great businessman' we certainly havent seen it here in America.

  4. In India he made investments in Flipkart (similar to Amazon)(sold to Walmart)(3 times return on investment), he made investments in Paytm (e wallet company)(according to me will lose the race to WhatsApp payment in future or an e wallet called tez (Google co.), And oyo room (cheap hotels)(the founder is even back by Peter Theil…(I don't have opinion abt it because if u wanna book hotel u got lots of options to choose from so I am skeptical abt it)

  5. anybody who didnt' see a bubble coming in early 1999 is an idiot, just like anybody who says Bitcoin is not a scam, is an imbecile. Masa was lucky, not smart, gambles with other people's money.

  6. What we will get in Singularity, may be incomparable to money today. He is investing for it, the future.

  7. regardless of winning or losing this man is the walking definition of put your money where your mouth is.

  8. ่ฒ ๅ‚ต้กใฏ๏ผ‘๏ผ•ๅ…†ๅ††ใ‚’่ถ…ใˆใฆใŠใ‚Šใ€ไปŠๅนดใฎ้Š€่กŒใธใฎ่ฟ”ๆธˆ้‡‘ใฏ1.5ๅ…†ๅ††ใง2020ๅนดใซใ‚‚ๅŒใ˜ใ1.5ๅ…†ๅ††ใฎ่จˆ3ๅ…†ๅ††ใฎ่ฟ”ๆธˆใŒใ‚ใ‚‹ใ€‚ใใ‚Œใ‚’็Ÿฅใฃใฆใ‹ใ‚คใƒณใƒ‰ไบบใฎๅพŒ็ถ™่€…ใซใฏ้€ƒใ’ใ‚‰ใ‚Œใ€ๆบๅธฏ้›ป่ฉฑไบ‹ๆฅญใฎๆ–นใฏ่จญๅ‚™ๆŠ•่ณ‡ใฎ้…ใ‚Œใ‚„ใ‚‰ใ‚จใƒฉใƒผใŒ็›ฎ็ซ‹ใฃใฆใใŸใ€‚ๅ›ฝๅ†…ใ‹ใ‚‰ๅ€Ÿใ‚Šใ‚‰ใ‚Œใ‚‹ๆ‰€ใŒ็„กใ„ใจ่ฆ‹ใ‚‹ใ‚„10ๅ…†ๅ††ใƒ•ใ‚กใƒณใƒ‰ใชใ‚‹ใ‚‚ใฎใ‚’่จญ็ซ‹ใ—ใ€ๅ€Ÿ้‡‘ใ‚’่ฟ”ใ™ใฎ่‡ช่ปข่ปŠๆ“ๆฅญใงใ‚ใ‚‹ใ€‚

  9. LOL the so called "Jury" debating whether this guy is a genius or not ..who build an empire worth 10's of Billions starting from scratch..whilst the "Jury" works 9-5 shitty ass job barely enough to cover their expenses .OKAY !!

  10. Lol he started with nothing and was at one point the richest man on the planet. Yet, idiots are still trying to prove he is only "lucky".

  11. You don't (briefly) become a richest man in the world, squandered 99% of your wealth and then became super rich (again) just by luck… I'll be lucky to get 5% p.a. return on my stock portfolio on a regular basis..

  12. I consider him a genious he almost doubled his money on flipkart withing 11 months….invested 2.5 billion in flipkart and sold for 4 billion after 11 months…he understands the ongoing bubble of valuations.

  13. The reason why all these companies signed with Masa san is that in that room they are being held by the Yakuza…. lol bad joke i know —-

  14. Loses 70 billion in the dotcom crash
    Bloomberg: "Is this man a genius?" "He does seem to have uncanny foresight."

    …way to cherry pick his successes.

  15. Masa is smart and a genius with a few black spots but he would not be able to reach where he is without his genius

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