Masayoshi Son the Softbank founder, an ambitious entrepreneur and now also a mobile’s gambler.
The grandson of Korean immigrants, he grew up in the poor Korean community of Tosu in a remote rural area southwest of Tokyo. His father raised pigs and sold alcohol illegally, before branching out to restaurants, real estate and pachinko parlours – smoke-filled pinball game halls, run mainly by ethnic Koreans.
His doting father once told him that one day he would be number one in Japan and maybe that helped Mr Son to develop a strong belief in his own potential that he would later spread out in business.
As a student at the University of California, Berkeley, Masayoshi Son decided to earn his own living expenses by inventing a talking electronic translating machine. The 19-year-old economics student from Japan had no experience inventing anything, no funds and no technological expertise, but he had a great will and potential and that has helped him to achieve the results.
While a student at Berkeley, Masayoshi Son drew up a lifetime plan to build a major business in his 40s and 50s and hand the reins over to his successor in his 60s.
In 1981 he had only self-confidence and admired deeply by Soichiro Honda, founder of the carmaker, Mr Son returned from the USand set up shop in Fukuoka, on the southwestern island of Kyushu. From a base in a rundown, two-storey wooden building, the company that would one day become SoftBank grew rapidly as a PC and software distributor riding on the wave of consumer demand for computers. The restless Mr Son was quick to branch out into broadband communications, among other areas, and to invest in a range of companies from Yahoo to TV Asahi, Aozora Bank and Nasdaq Japan.
Now in addition to the great track record he serves as a Member of Advisory Committee at Business Breakthrough Inc, as a Director of Pasonabank Inc., Yahoo! Japan Corporation and E-Trade Group, Inc. and as a Representative Director of Cisco Systems Inc., as a Director of Alibaba.com Japan, BB Technologies Corporation and Weddingchannel.Com, Inc. and as Executive of ZDNet, Inc
Today, in his mid-50s as he takes on the industry’s big beasts, that is one objective that Mayoshi Son – whose energy and ambition show little sign of diminishing – might postpone.
Today the 55-year-old chief executive of SoftBank, the Japanese mobile phone group, presides over a sprawling commercial empire whose reach has bee extended recently with the surprise announcement of a $20.1bn bid for 70 per cent of Sprint Nextel, the third-largest mobile phone operator in the US. The move would create a group with a combined 96m users and revenues of $81bn, transforming Japan’s third-largest mobile phone operator into number three in the world, pitting it against the likes of AT&T Wireless and Verizon.
Despite the fact that during his lifetime many of his investments flopped, such as that in Kingston Technology and Speednet he continues to risk and put up his money to get more profit and make them work. Being a billionaire he stays also a philanthropist and after Fukushima natural disaster he engaged in investing in a nation-wide solar power network for Japan because he considers this energy safety.