Son rises in east to say SoftBank ‘energised’ for another decade

21 Jun 2017

SoftBank. Image: Tupungato/Shutterstock

Masayoshi Son plans to reign for a further 10 years, with growth, growth and more growth the order of the day.

Few organisations are as active as SoftBank in the world today. Google, maybe. Facebook, perhaps. But, even then, SoftBank’s activities are bordering on the incomprehensible.

Not content with organising a $100bn ‘vision’ fund to invest in various cutting-edge technologies (Apple is just one of the companies involved, with $93bn so far secured), the Japanese group’s acquisition plans are endless.

Future Human


Busy bees

Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of SoftBank Group, has seen the company finance the next stage in autonomous transport, help develop tomorrow’s revolutionary SIM cards, bet on payments and spend £24bn on semiconductor giant ARM.

Most recently, it bought Google’s pioneering robotic company, Boston Dynamics, for an undisclosed (but surely immense) fee. It also put $100m into cybersecurity start-up Cybereason this week.

And Son is clearly enjoying his role at the top of the tree.

“I feel energised. I couldn’t possibly retire,” he said at SoftBank’s AGM, following discussion on who would be his successor.

Since the departure of former chief operating officer Nikesh Arora last year, Son has been left without an immediate candidate to replace him, should he step down.

“Over the next 10 years, that’s the challenge I should keep addressing,” he said, according to Reuters, adding that a successor would most likely come from the company’s management ranks.

Global nature

The report notes how SoftBank’s management structure is, much like its portfolio of business interests, growing more and more global.

“The group has also boosted the number of directors with the election of the heads of key overseas subsidiaries to an expanded board of directors. The board is now majority non-Japanese,” it said.

Son’s enthusiasm has been clear for some time now. When nabbing Boston Dynamics recently, his interest in future technologies was obvious.

“Today, there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities,” he said at the time, with the acquisition one of the more surprising after the Google-owned company had been put up for sale for more than a year.

Son, though, was not turned off.

“Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution, and [founder and CEO Marc Raibert] and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots,” he said.

SoftBank. Image: Tupungato/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic