The man has "different people" ideas about AI and the future of the world
Masayoshi Son is known for his shocking statements, and huge investment deals. In a working session in September, not only the big boss was in the process of working in Tokyo, but the staff were also preparing for the process of announcing billions of dollars in investment deals. : $ 1 billion for Oyo – start-up of Indian hotels; 800 million USD for Compass and OpenDoor; 100 million USD for Loggi – start-up delivery in Brazil. In addition, Vision Fund also led a $ 3 billion investment in China's ByteDance. At the same time, Son and his partners are also in the process of launching a $ 100 billion fund, along with a plan to raise $ 45 billion from the Saudi Crown Prince – Mohammed bin Salman.
At first glance, Vision's story has the main content: money. It can be seen that Vision's minimum investments in start-ups are $ 100 million. Billionaire Masayoshi Son will support the companies he chooses through SoftBank or other investment channels.
However, the story hidden deep behind is much more complicated. Son believes that machines will become smarter than humans. In addition, Son is "pouring" huge amounts of capital into people as well as companies using AI and machine learning to optimize every industry, affecting our lives from real estate. , food to transport.
For the first time, Son presented the details of his view as an explanation to investors in 2010, his slides contain images of chips implanted in human brains, cloned animals and Hands of robots and people embrace each other in romance. However, at that time there was a lot of criticism, criticism or even mocking him. Even so, the billionaire who thinks "different" believes that robots will help us be healthier and happier.
To pursue the "dream" or rather his vision of connecting everyday objects to creating intelligent machines, Son will need a lot of money. Therefore, he founded the Vision Fund, which is currently worth 100 billion USD, attracting many large investors such as Saudi Arabia's National Investment Fund (PIF), Apple, Foxconn and Qualcomm.
As Son explained at the time of the foundation, he needed huge capital because of the next phase of the "coming IT revolution." Moreover, the construction of businesses will make the plan become realistic and requires the scale, the source of long-term investment is unprecedented. Now, this reckless man will begin to do what Bloomberg previously described as "an intense bombing right in the heart of Silicon Valley".
The boldness and aggressiveness in each investment
At a Son party held in 2016, among the attendees was Simon Segars, CEO of ARM chip designer, who did not know that this would be one of the most memorable events of his life. Just a few days later, Segars received a surprise call from Son and said he needed to meet Segars and chairman Stuart Chambers immediately. Unfortunately, Chambers is on vacation on a cruise off the coast of Turkey. But Son did not want to wait, he immediately dispatched a private plane to pick up Segars and convince Chambers to go to see him in the Eastern Mediterranean.
There is one thing that SoftBank boss understands: He wants to get ARM and is willing to spend money on them. This is a business that shocked Wall Street with speed and boldness. SoftBank did not hesitate to spend $ 32 billion on chip manufacturers, ie 43% of market capitalization at the time. Son negotiated and "closed the deal" in just 2 weeks.
Speaking of SoftBank, WeWork can't be ignored. Son even identified WeWork as the next Alibaba, with a current market capitalization of nearly $ 400 billion. As of mid-December, Son's investment in WeWork was $ 8.65 billion (including debt and funding for subsidiaries) and the company's real estate was valued at $ 45 billion. In early January this year, SoftBank continued to pour another $ 2 billion. According to a close source, SoftBank is negotiating to pour another VND20 billion into this start-up.
Son is a person whose appearance is quite small and small in every word. The close people all said that he was very intelligent, confident and humorous but humble. In a meeting with the CEO of a start-up, Son dressed pretty … ragged, his outfit that day was a pair of jeans and slippers in the house.
Colleagues said, Son is happiest when talking with brainstorm start-up starters, building strategies and investing. SoftBank's CEO, Marcelo Claure, talks about Son: "If Masa can spend the whole day doing what he loves, it will be meeting and discussing with entrepreneurs." When participating in these meetings, profit margin is not what SoftBank boss focused on. What do you want to know is how fast the company can grow? This is an important factor for his portfolio for CEOs.
From an immigrant boy bullied, discriminated against the most powerful man in Silicon Valley
Masayoshi Son's family left Korea from the 1960s and grew up in poverty on the remote island of Kyushu, southern Japan. His parents chose the name Masayoshi, meaning "justice", because they hoped that with such a righteous meaning, false biases about Korean people would be removed. However, that did not work, Son was bullied when he was in school.
After holding a degree from UC Berkeley, majoring in economics and computer science, Son returned to Japan and launched SoftBank in 1981. At first, the company had only two part- employees time and even no customers. Later, Son paid attention to the explosion of the internet and quickly kept an eye on America. Success with the investment in Yahoo and E-Trade has helped the company reap other achievements.
In January 2000, two months before the peak of the dotcom era, Son announced that he owned more than 7% of the listed internet companies' largest value, over 100 investments. At that time, sometimes his property value increased by 10 billion USD / week, he was even richer than Bill Gates in only 3 days.
However, SoftBank shares plunged as investors questioned the ongoing deals. Then when the US stock market collapsed, the stocks that SoftBank held in large numbers like Buy.com, Webvan and Yahoo were all red. But Son did not stop, he continued to invest in more than 600 internet companies right before the dotcom bubble. At the same time, SoftBank's stock lost 90% and Son's net worth was $ 70 billion.
So what can make this billionaire panic? The answer is nothing! Although "empire" SoftBank is plunging so fast, he still invested $ 20 million in 34% of an e-commerce company without a reputation. 14 years later, it was Alibaba, and the shares were worth $ 50 million. After selling its stake in Flipkart to Walmart last year, Vision Fund's revenue pushed SoftBank operating profit up to 62%.
Last summer, Son asked Claure to form a new division, with the goal of "creating value." The goal is to help Vision Fund entrepreneurs access resources and partnerships globally. A key factor to do this is to connect companies to help grow together. Son organizes parties and events to gather many people and he will suggest they use each other's services.
The global connection Son has built throughout his four-decade career is vast and important, for him as a war fund. Including the relationship with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jack Ma, and world leaders such as President Xi Jinping or US President Donald Trump.Son are in the process to sustain the Vision Fund, whether or not not backed by Saudi Arabia. Next year, Vision Fund plans to support a series of new AI start-ups, nearly doubling its portfolio from 70 to 125 companies.
Currently, no one on this planet has a better position than Son in bringing influence to the next wave of technology.
Not Jeff Bezos, not Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, they have a lot of money but not Son's ambition, boldness and creativity. If successful, the Vision Foundation's network of companies will reshape important components of the economy. These are the 228 trillion USD real estate market, the global transportation market of 5.9 trillion USD and the retail industry of 25 trillion USD. Later, we will not be able to turn off services supported by Vision Funds, such as computers or smartphones. In the end, they will have their own minds and thoughts.
Of course, Son is not a "strong wave" that is unimpeded by anything. Factors such as the economic downturn, geopolitical crisis, government governing bodies, could all be the causes of "pulling" his ambitious plans. There is always the possibility that he has bet on the wrong place. However, Son did not take the time to immerse himself in doubt. Because he said this when launching Vision Fund: "There are good times, bad times. But SoftBank is always there!"