Up until about June last year, it had been Masayoshi Son’s plan to retire as SoftBank’s CEO when he turned 60 – which would have been last month.
But in June 2016, everything changed. SoftBank’s president Nikesh Arora, who already stood by as Son’s successor, resigned after a group of shareholders questioned his track record and qualifications. An independent committee looking into the matter ultimately couldn’t find anything to confirm the allegations, but soon after the incident, Son reversed his retirement plans and declared that he felt his own “work is not done.”
“I want to cement SoftBank 2.0 […] and work on a few more crazy ideas. This will require me to be CEO for at least another five to ten years,” he said at the time.
Did someone say crazy ideas?
Since then, Son has done the opposite of retiring. He put together the largest tech investment fund in history: almost US$100 billion.
SoftBank inked deals to acquire and invest in startups at breakneck speed, using the new fund as well as existing ones.
Here’s a look at the top 10 investments the Japanese firm made since the start of this year.
Some side notes:
- SoftBank had already acquired ARM last year for a total of US$31.4 billion, but transferred US$8.2 billion of those shares to its Vision Fund this year.
- The recent deal with Flipkart is not included because the amount was not disclosed. It’s rumored to have been worth over US$2.5 billion, which would have placed it on this chart.
- Also this year, SoftBank agreed to buy robot maker Boston Dynamics from Google parent company Alphabet – but little is known about the details.
SoftBank is building a massive global empire of transportation, ecommerce, robotics, AI, and virtual reality firms. It will likely pump billions of dollars into visionary tech firms in the coming years. Above all sits Son’s firm belief in the future of superintelligent machines. He thinks we will see them as human partners in about 30 years.
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