Owning a fortune of more than 21.1 billion USD, according to the statistics of the famous magazine Forbes, billionaire Masayoshi Son is currently the 3rd richest person in Japan. In order to have a huge fortune today, few people know that this famous businessman had to go through difficult times in the past.
From a kid picking up leftovers to a billionaire
Masayoshi Son was born in 1957, in a slum in Tusu village in Saga county, Kyushu region, Japan, to parents of Korean descent. His family was not well off, had to live by raising pigs and poultry. From a young age, Masayoshi Son also had to collect leftovers from neighbors to feed the pigs and poultry.
Soon being caught up in the life cycle, his childhood memories were not as rosy as his peers, but exuded hardship and hardship. He recalls: “When I was a kid, I sat in a trailer. It smelled so bad that I vomited. We went to collect leftovers from the neighbors to feed the pigs and poultry. The smell was terrible. no matter how awful it smelled, we, myself, were still working really hard. My grandmother was the one pulling the cart, letting me sit inside. She’s dead now.”
Because of that, poverty became a source of motivation for the boy Masayoshi Son to study hard and to make his determination to escape poverty.
In 1972, when he was 16 years old, he had the opportunity to meet one of his idols, Den Fujita – the founder of McDonald’s Japan. At this meeting, Den Fujita encouraged Masayoshi Son to study in the US. So after that, he followed the advice to go to the United States to continue his high school and attend the University of California at Berkeley. It was also here that he started his business path when he founded his first company with a multi-language translator product, then sold it to Sharp for 1 million USD.
After graduating from university, Masayoshi Son decided to return to Japan. In 1981, he founded SoftBank as a software and personal computer distribution company with just two employees in a cramped Tokyo apartment. Taking advantage of the consumer craze at home, his company quickly expanded and developed. In 1994, SoftBank Corp Japan was renamed SoftBank Corp with the ambition to become a global enterprise. Gradually bring this group to become the largest corporation in the country and attack the international market.
In March 1994, SoftBank Holdings Inc was established in the US with the ambition to invest in internet and technology related businesses. In July 1994, SoftBank officially offered to sell shares on the OTC floor and was valued at 3 billion USD.
During the period from 2009 to 2014, Softbank’s market capitalization grew by 557% – the 4th highest growth rate in worldwide history. Also since 2014, Masayoshi Son has become the richest billionaire in Japan and is ranked in the top 40 richest billionaires in the world.
Becoming a technology ‘tycoon’ caused Huawei to struggle
Famous for his high-value venture capital style, many times, this billionaire’s bold decisions brought Softbank billions of dollars in revenue, but sometimes caused significant losses.
Among Son’s famous investments, one cannot mention the names Yahoo and Alibaba. In 1999, Softbank combined with Yahoo of the US to found Yahoo! Japan Corporation. For decades, Yahoo! Japan Corporation dominates internet services in Japan.
His $ 20 million investment in Alibaba in 2000 also helped this fledgling internet business of the country of billions of people become China’s largest e-commerce group. By 2014, that $20 million investment was worth $60 billion when the group officially went public.
In 2013, SoftBank reached an agreement to buy Sprint Corporation for up to $22.2 billion. In 2013, Softbank made the acquisition of 51% shares of SuperCell for $2.1 billion. By 2015, Softbank continued to buy another 22.7% stake in SuperCell. In 2016, SoftBank sold all shares of SuperCell to Tencent Group, earning $7.1 billion. In addition, SoftBank also made many investments or acquisitions such as WeWork, Coupang, GungHo Online Entertainment, Fortress Investment Group, etc.
Considered a ‘crazy guy’ by venture capitalists, many times Masayoshi Son’s decision caused many other businesses to struggle, most notably the blow that stunned the Chinese Huawei empire in 2019. .
Previously, in July 2016, Softbank surprised the world when it suddenly announced its plan to acquire British chip design firm ARM Holdings for $31.4 billion.
Not directly involved in investment, but Softbank of billionaire Masayoshi Son has a close cooperation relationship with Huawei. Softbank has used many Huawei devices on 4G network infrastructure. In July 2017, Softbank released a press release stating that it is having a series of cooperation with Huawei on 5G.
However, in 2019, the trade war between the US and China led the US President Donald Trump’s administration to ban US technology companies from doing business with partners halfway around the world. Huawei Group was suspended from cooperation by a series of partners, starting with Google’s suspension of hardware and software supply to a series of other names in the semiconductor and chip manufacturing industry such as Qualcomm, Broadcom… plan to “take a break” with Huawei.
According to some market research companies, these “hits” are not “killers” until ARM Corporation, which specializes in providing chip design, suspends cooperation with Huawei. This action became a “thunderbolt” that threatened the survival of Huawei’s smartphone business. On May 29, 2019, Softbank (Japan), controlled by billionaire Masayoshi Son, announced that it chose Nokia and Ericsson as suppliers of 5G network infrastructure equipment. This means that Huawei officially lost an extremely important customer, Softbank.
Being a rare Japanese businessman
Not only is the founder and builder of one of the most successful corporations in Japan, billionaire Masayoshi Son is also a businessman who possesses the personality and spirit of geniuses that many admire.
He is likened to Warren Buffett as a fund manager with a huge amount of capital and record profits and his investment in Alibaba is a concrete example. Like Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, he also possesses the transcendent mind of a genius. He predicted the internet would be a world-changing force before this fact was widely recognized. Thereby proving his investment plan in Yahoo is right.
Besides, Masayoshi Son is also considered to be similar to Virgin Group founder – Richard Branson – who founded Virgin Atlas to compete with the British national airline. He also started two telecommunications companies in Japan.
In 2001, amid sluggish broadband speeds in Japan, Son persuaded the government to change regulations in the telecommunications industry.
When no other company wanted to take on the state-owned NTT, Son set up a competitor on his own, Yahoo BB. Thanks to him, Japan now has one of the highest broadband speeds in the world and Yahoo! BB is a leading road repair company in the country.
It can be said that it is very difficult for someone to combine all the strengths of all three greats in business, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Buffett because they do not have each other’s advantages. But Masayoshi Son seems to have it all. That is also the reason why it is considered that Masayoshi Son is a rare model of a billionaire and businessman who has only appeared in Japan for a hundred years. And the success that this billionaire has is probably quite understandable.