Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son is one impressive guy.
But the most impressive thing about the SoftBank CEO is that he remains Japan’s second-richest person years after losing $70 billion of his net worth.
You read that correctly.
Son was once reported to be worth $78 billion before the dotcom crash.
But losing all that money didn’t stop him, and under Son’s leadership SoftBank’s profits have skyrocketed in the past few years.
Son was born in 1957 in Japan to a Korean immigrant family. His original name was Son Jeong-ui, signifying his family's Korean roots, but they took the Japanese name Yasumoto to fit in when Son was a child.
Son went to Serramonte High School just south of San Francisco. Then after two years at a local college, he transferred to the University of California-Berkeley and majored in economics.
From a profile of Son in Ars Technica:
While an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, Son imported early consoles of Pac-Man and Space Invaders and leased them to local bars and restaurants in Northern California, notably Yoshi's, a well-known music venue which began as a north Berkeley restaurant but now exists as a larger jazz club in downtown Oakland. Back in Japan, Son's father ran a pachinko parlor (pachinko is a style of Japanese pinball) and had access to early arcade units. Son reportedly made his first million dollars through these arcade games.
Times were good. And Son was reported to be worth $78 billion. American businessmen viewed Son as a 'model of the New Japan,' according to a 2004 Wired profile. While many staid Japanese executives seemed standoffish to Americans, Son spoke fluent English, told jokes, and shook hands instead of bowing.
The dotcom crash crushed SoftBank and Son, who lost $70 billion personally, reportedly the largest sum ever lost by an individual. By 2004, SoftBank's stock price was down 98 per cent from its peak. From Wired: 'Softbank blew billions more on Asahi TV, Asia Global Crossing, SKY Perfect, and a throng of dotcom dogs: Kozmo.com, More.com, SportsBrain. Webvan? Yep, that was him.'
'SoftBank owns stakes in 1,018 Internet operations, including Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group, China's top e-commerce company,' Bloomberg reports. With the Sprint acquisition, SoftBank will also become the world's third-biggest mobile phone company.
And of course, Son splurged a little for himself. He bought a $117.5 million palace in Woodside, California last year.
The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks were acquired by the company in 2005. Last season the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters took them down in the league final.
Taizo Son, his youngest brother, became a billionaire as chairman of GungHo, the maker of the world's best-selling smartphone game 'Puzzle & Dragons.' Masayoshi Son was an early investor in his brother's company.
In 2004, when everyone was betting against SoftBank, Son told Wire, 'In this industry, the first mover, the pioneer, very often gets a big success.'
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