Masayoshi Son Reveals the Limits of Money in Tech
The charismatic SoftBank founder is arguably the single best fundraiser in the world. But more money is not enough to deliver on expectations of economic growth and innovation.
Masayoshi Son is the founder, chairman, and CEO of SoftBank, a Japanese conglomerate focused on investments in technology. With a market capitalization of about $65 billion in August 2022, SoftBank is the seventh-largest publicly traded company in Japan and Son, with a net worth of about $21 billion, was the third-wealthiest person in Japan.1 But while SoftBank is a key player in Japan’s telecommunications and information technology sectors, Son’s ambitions are global. In 2017, Son founded the SoftBank Vision Fund and raised $100 billion in capital for it with the goal of investing up to $20 billion every year in tech companies focused on artificial intelligence, robotics, and the “internet of things.” The Vision Fund instantly became the largest venture capital fund ever raised, five times bigger than the venture arms of Blackstone and Goldman Sachs, and twenty times bigger than Silicon Valley venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz.2 A follow-on fund, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, was established in 2019, and the two funds together reached a value of over $150 billion in 2021.3 The same year, SoftBank invested $38 billion into over 180 companies, the most ever by any venture capital investor.4