10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Masayoshi Son’

In the high stakes world of technology and finance, few names are more familiar or carry more weight than that of Masayoshi Son. Japanese business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, Son, often considered one of the most powerful people in the world, has carved out an impressive career that has seen him rise to the very top of global business. However, behind the business successes and headlines, there’s a lot more to Son than many realize. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Masayoshi Son.

1. He made his first major profit when he was still in college

One of the most impressive aspects of Son’s early life is the fact he got a head start in the financial game while still in his college years. It’s one story that reveals the drive and determination that’s become a hallmark of his career.

During his studies at the University of California, Berkley, Son invented an electronic translator that he later sold to Sharp Corporation for a handsome $1 million. His quick grasp of technology and its possibilities were clear even then, with this initial windfall laying the foundation for his later business adventures.

2. He is the richest man in Japan

As the founder and CEO of SoftBank, Japan’s leading telecommunications and internet corporation, Son has amassed a remarkable fortune. His net worth, estimated by Forbes to be around $45.4 billion, makes him not only the richest man in Japan but also places him among the wealthiest individuals globally.

Son’s wealth is not merely linked to SoftBank, but his diverse and extensive portfolio of investments in successful companies including Nvidia, Uber, and Alibaba, among others, have contributed significantly to his vast net worth.

3. He lost $70 billion during the dotcom crash

It’s hard to overstate the impact the dotcom crash had on Son. At the time, he was reputed to be the world’s richest man. However, when the tech bubble burst in 2000, he lost a staggering $70 billion.

Despite this monumental setback, Son didn’t give up. His resilient nature and business acumen guided him through this difficult period, which saw him slowly rebuild his fortune. Today, his financial setbacks are often referenced as poignant reminders of the volatile nature of the tech industry.

4. Son created the largest tech investment fund in the world

Son’s ambitious nature led him to establish the Vision Fund in 2017. With approximately $100 billion in assets, it’s currently the world’s largest technology-focused venture capital fund.

This fund has seen Son invest aggressively in numerous technology companies across the world, including WeWork, ARM Holdings, and DoorDash. While some of his investment decisions have raised eyebrows, there’s no doubt that the Vision Fund has allowed Son to continue to shape the global tech landscape.

5. He loves to play shogi

When it comes to unwinding, Son loves a good game of shogi, a highly strategic, chess-like game popular in Japan. He’s known for playing high-stakes matches with other industry giants, including Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.

Playing shogi is more than a hobby for Son. He reportedly uses the game to refine his strategic thinking, with its emphasis on planning and patience mirroring many of the skills required in the business world.

6. He has an ambitious 300-year plan for SoftBank

Son is not a man of small dreams. His audacity is best exemplified by his astonishing 300-year business plan for SoftBank. This plan outlines the corporation’s path for the next three centuries, underpinning his aspiration for SoftBank to continue shaping the tech industry’s future.

While a 300-year plan may seem unfathomable to some, it is reflective of Son’s unique thinking. His belief in the long-term potential of technology companies and his unwavering faith in their capacity to shape the future defines his business approach.

7. He had a close call with death early in his life

At a young age, Son had a near-death experience which had a profound impact on him. When he was only two years old, he fell into a river and nearly drowned.

This early brush with death had a significant influence on shaping Son’s outlook on life. He’s mentioned before that it’s led him to make the most of every opportunity and live with a sense of urgency, which is clearly reflected in his approach to business.

8. He is an advocate for renewable energy

One of the lesser-known aspects of Son’s career is his push for renewable energy. Following the devastating Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Son pledged to help Japan move towards sustainable energy.

His efforts in this regard are embodied by the establishment of the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation. This dedication to renewable energy underlines Son’s forward-thinking approach, highlighting his belief in the need for sustainable solutions to the world’s energy challenges.

9. He went to the U.S. knowing little English

Moving to a new country is daunting enough, but imagine doing it with very little command of the language. That’s exactly what Son did when he moved to the U.S. to attend high school and subsequently university.

While the language barrier could have been an impediment, Son turned it into an opportunity. In fact, he learned English by offering to wash dishes at a local restaurant in exchange for free language lessons, showing his tenacity and resourcefulness.

10. He has a soft spot for robots

Renowned for his love for technology, Son is particularly enchanted by robots. He believes in a future where robots will no longer just assist but coexist with humans in society.

His passion for robotics led him to acquire a majority stake in the French robotics company, Aldebaran Robotics, which manufactures the humanoid robot, Pepper. This venture into robotics is indicative of Son’s continuous aspiration to remain at the forefront of technological innovation.

Conclusion

Masayoshi Son’s life is a fascinating tapestry of audacity, resilience, and innovation. From making his first million in his college days to creating the largest tech investment fund in the world, his story is a compelling testament to the power of big dreams and relentless determination. Yet, there is so much more to Son than his well-known business exploits. His love for shogi, robots, and renewable energy, his faith in the long-term prospects of technology, and his close call with death reflect a more nuanced and compelling picture of the man influencing the future of our world.

Learn more about Masayoshi Son

Discover more about Son’s big bets in Tech

Keep up to date with the latest on Masayoshi Son