Masayoshi Son, the founder and chief executive officer of Softbank, needs to be pushed out. He started the company in 1981. It has been everything from a wireless operation to an investment holding company. Its Vision Funds have made and lost tens of billions of dollars. The emphasis at this point should be on the losses. (These 14 billionaires went broke.)
Of the dozens of companies Son has invested in, the sole, clear home run is China’s Alibaba. However, this has not erased the extraordinary failures simply based on bad judgment.
Softbank just lost $32 billion in its most recent quarter because of declines in the value of Vision Fund investments. CNBC says, “Over the past year, SoftBank has been exiting some of its highest-profile investments to raise cash. It narrowed its overall losses through sales of shares in T-Mobile and Alibaba.” These companies are a very modest part of his portfolio.
What does Son have left to recover? An interest in chip company Arm, which he hopes to take public. According to several sources, this could raise $10 billion. The emphasis should be on “could.”
Son’s most recent scheme is to invest in artificial intelligence, the same strategy many major tech companies have employed. He will find it hard to elbow into a market that is already so competitive.
It will be hard to dislodge Son because of his decades-long role at Softbank. It is time for the board to react, and react publicly.
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