SoftBank’s Son commits to surpass $10b India investment target

Photo: Bloomberg

SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son, who had committed to invest $10 billion in India over a decade, on Friday said that he remained bullish on the country and would expand on his existing Internet investments.

“I have the funds, we are looking for opportunities,” Son, 59, said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. He added that he is expecting to surpass his commitment of $10 billion that he made in October 2014.

Son-led SoftBank has already invested $2 billion in India in the last two years. E-commerce marketplace Snapdeal (Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd), cab aggregator Ola Cabs (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd), budget hotels aggregator Oyo Rooms (Oravel Travel Pvt. Ltd) and hyperlocal start-up Grofers India Pvt. Ltd were among the recipients.

Son spoke about what the world would be like in 30 years. “Computer intelligence will surpass mankind intelligence by 2018,” he predicted.

Son claimed his investment in ARM Holdings will lead this change. ARM is a UK-based chip maker, which Son acquired for $32 billion early this year. He claims to have paid a 40% premium for the publicly listed company.

“I told myself, I am the luckiest man, I got the company so cheap,” he said. Thirty years on, Son envisions it will be a trillion-dollar bet. “ARM sold 15 billion chips last year… and it will sell one trillion chips over the next 20 years. If one chip is for $1, it is a $1 trillion bet,” he said in a conversation with R. Sukumar, editor of Mint.

Last month, Son along with the Saudi Arabian government announced a $100 billion fund to make investments in technology, of which SoftBank’s share will be $25 billion.

In the last two years, SoftBank has also worked on a human robot, Pepper. Son claims it is the first human robot with emotions. He believes that if robots only chase productivity it will be dangerous for mankind.

Son sits atop a sprawling technology conglomerate that owns Japan’s largest telecommunications company, the local arm of global internet major Yahoo! and UK’s ARM Holdings besides having a plethora of investments in firms across the world.

Now the second richest man in Japan, Son made a fortune from his investment in China’s Alibaba Holdings Group Ltd. In 2000, he invested $20 million in the then fledgling Alibaba that went public in 2014. The initial public offering valued Son’s 32% stake at $79 billion.

Son claims it is easier for him to see the long-term potential of companies. “I am actually better at forecasting 30 years later than three years later.”

Little wonder then that he wants to be remembered as a “crazy guy who bet on the future”.

Also Read: SoftBank CEO Son says $100b global tech fund ‘oversubscribed’

Softbank Group writes off $555m in India’s Ola, Snapdeal investments

This article was first published on Livemint.com

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.