Year after year, organizations like Forbes and Bloomberg put together lists of the world’s richest people. Today names like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos top the list. But in the late ’90s, one man rose to prominence at lightning speed. What’s more, he broke records that have yet to be broken. Masayoshi Son grew his wealth after he founded his successful business Softbank. The company is a leader in investing to this day. However, he is most known for his off-the-wall personality and risky investment strategy.
Diving Straight into the Deep End
Masa, as he is affectionately known, first stepped foot in the business world when he flew to the office of Mcdonald’s Japan and demanded a meeting with the national director. At the time, he was only sixteen years old. Son’s goal was to ask the influential business leader what business he should get into. The answer was clear: computers. So the young business mogul took the advice and boarded the next flight to San Francisco, where he would quickly test out of high school and start a business while pursuing his college degree.
Masa’s Early Career
His first business venture was in arcade games. Masayoshi Son saw the success of a new arcade game called Space Invaders. Although, he noticed that all arcades had lines out the door for the game. He ordered as many game consoles as possible from Japan and shipped them via airplane. The catch was he didn’t have a dollar to his name. So, he was careful to negotiate extended payment terms on the units so he could pay them off after months of generating revenue from the games. The risk paid off; he made a million dollars off the games.
Next, he pursued a business as a serial inventor. He chronicles a time in his life when he would spend time every day thinking of possible inventions by finding a problem and a viable solution. After compiling entire notebooks full of invention ideas, he settled on a pocket translator similar to a palm pilot. Enlisting the help of one of his college investors, Masa began building a prototype of the device while making pitch after pitch to sell it to major corporations. Finally, after countless hours of effort, he landed a sale to Sharp Corporation.
Swimming with the Sharks
Throughout his career, Masa would make contacts with some of the biggest names in tech, including Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. For example, his relationship with Steve Jobs led him to win exclusive rights to sell the iPhone in Japan. These sorts of business relationships made him a trustworthy manager of the Vision fund.
Masayoshi Son’s VisioSon’sd is the most valuable investment fund in history, hitting its target of 100 billion dollars in assets in the late ‘90s. This ’90s broke records just three days after making Son the wealthiest man in the world when the Dot Com Bubble burst and lost 70 billion dollars in one day.
Son would be no stranger to records, though. A few years after the Dot Com crash, Masa met a young Jack Ma, and due to a “Twinkle in his eye,” Masa invested 20 million dollars in the company that would become Alibaba. This investment grew from 20 million to over 10 billion dollars in value, making it the single most significant investment in history. So, it wasn’t only bad records for Masayoshi Son.
Today Masa continues to manage wealth for a wide array of investors in the tech sphere under his company SoftBank. Many assume that Son is nearing retirement, but he shows no sign of slowing down. It’s not alIt’ssitive criticism for the eccentric billionaire, though. Many have criticized him as a gambler who has just gotten lucky enough on a few significant investments to ride that success for the rest of his life. Others suggest that the way he invests mass amounts of money into businesses gives him incredible influence over the market and artificial success. Lastly, some say that people see him walk into the room and know they can’t beat can’t the deal, so he becomes the only buyer in these major corporate buyouts.
Whether you love or hate him, it can’t be denied that Masayoshi Son’s revolutionary approach to investing and business has made him extraordinarily successful. Though his time in business may be coming to an end, his influence will live on for many years, as will the many companies he founded and invested in; for more information on Masayoshi Son and to hear some of the wild stories of his lifestyle watch or listen to this episode of the TILLN Podcast.
Things I Learned Last Night is an educational comedy podcast where best friends Jaron Myers and Tim Stone talk about random topics and have fun all along the way. If you like learning and laughing a lot while you do, you’ll love TILLN. Watch or listen to this episode right now!
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