Want to be remembered as a crazy guy who put a bet on future: SoftBank CEO Son

SoftBank started as a telecom firm, made big money and started investing in the internet space where it is a big player.

HTLS2016 Updated: Dec 03, 2016 00:33 IST
Sunny Sen
Sunny Sen
Hindustan Times
SoftBank,Masayoshi Son,SoftBank CEO
Chairman and CEO of SoftBank Masayoshi Son at the 14th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Friday.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

Masayoshi Son was 10. His family was not well-off but when he would buy candy, he wouldn’t forget his friends.

“Money is important, it is precious, you are wasting it... Money is not unlimited, you will lose all of it,” his grandmother warned.

But for Son it wasn’t a waste -- he was doing it for his friends. “When I grow up, money will come from the heaven, as long as I do good things,” Son would tell his grandmother, who would think of her grandson as “hopeless”.

Son was not wrong.

Money came, not from heaven but from the world of telecom and internet.

Full coverage of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit

Now 59, Son leads SoftBank, with a market value of $65 billion.

SoftBank started as a telecom firm, made big money and started investing in the internet space where it is a big player.

One of its most successful investments is in Alibaba. In India, he has invested in Snapdeal, Ola, Oyo and some other internet companies.

For three days in 2000 he was the wealthiest man on the planet – more wealthy than Bill Gates, Microsoft was then the tech poster boy.

Recently, SoftBank teamed up with a Saudi sovereign wealth fund for a $100 billion tech fund, which will invest in internet and renewable energy companies.

But, a lot of money bothers Son.

In 2000, he could buy the entire departmental store, and then shopping lost its charm.

“It is actually too sad to be too rich. The only thing I was thinking during those days, is how should I donate. Before I got the answer, the next year I lost 98% of the money,” he said.

The loss was $70 billion.

He had to work again, which he enjoys. “We survived and somehow I continue to run the company,” Son said, at the 14th HT Leadership Summit on Friday.

But, big bets don’t scare him. “I am betting on the future,” he said.

He wants to live his dream, and he is working on it.

ARM, the chipset maker Softbank acquired, was something Son was eyeing for a decade. “I didn’t have the money,” he said.

But, there are things money can’t buy -- like his best golf shot. After the acquisition he scored 68. That’s a lot, a golfer would know.

But there is something else he wants to be remembered as. “A crazy guy who put a bet on the future.”

First Published: Dec 02, 2016 19:03 IST