Masayoshi Son (born August 11, 1957) is a Japanese businessman and investor. He is the current CEO of Softbank, Softbank mobile and the Chairman of one of the United States of America’s “big three” networks. Sprint Corporation. He is also famous for being the man who lost the most money in a single day when he lost $70 Billion in dot-com crash in 2000.
Masayoshi Son is of Korean ancestry (Even though belonging to a different ethnicity), his family adopted Japanese culture, and the surname Yasumoto. He was born in Tosu, on the Japanese island of Kyushu in dire poverty. His father made his living by scraping as a fisherman. In 1960’s directly racist attacks against Korean immigrants were rife. He was pelted by stone and jeered at by classmates. Once a child cut his head open with a stone. All these steeled his resolve to identify himself as a Korean. So while all his family kept their surname as Yasumoto, he changed it before going to America at the age of 16. When asked why he answered he did it to identify and give a ray of hope to all ethnic Koreans living in Japan.
Even as a child Son wanted to make a name for himself by 20’s and was interested in Computer chips. As he grew he was convinced these tiny things would usher the next technological revolution. He later secured the meeting with his hero, the McDonald Japan President, Den Fujita. Taking his advice, he started to study English and Computer Science and planning on studying in the US. The age of 16, Son moved to California to finish high school staying with family in South San Francisco. He finished in weeks and enrolled in the University of Berkeley to study Economics and Computer Science. The student was so enamored of Computer chips that he carried with him a cut-out of Computer Chips at all times. When not studying he thought of one business idea a day. Eventually, he designed a translating device whose patent he sold to the Sharp Corporation for $450,000. The money would go to found the Software Giant Softbank when he returned to Japan. The first deal was with the Electronics retailer Joshin Dengki, which was successful and within a year the monthly revenues went up from $10000 to $2.3 Million.
Son’s main success comes from spotting and investing in right companies. Many of these deals went sour, for example, Kingston technologies, which lost Son $1 Billion. But others did better. Like Yahoo, which, when went public, had a 33% stake by Son. Or in Alibaba, the Chinese giant, the preliminary $20 million investments are now worth $75 Billion.
In 2006, Son bought out Vodafone Japan and renamed it Vodafone KK. The company is now the premier Broadband provider and have third-largest telephone subscriber base in Japan.
After Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 Son criticized the nuclear industry and invested in a countrywide solar power network. He also pledged to donate $120 million and the salary until his retirement to the victims of 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami disaster.