Two nights ago Softbank held an online webcast introducing their vision for the next 30 years and reviewing their progress over the previous decades.
The company was one of the first to invest in Yahoo.com before the dot com boom, then took the Yahoo! Brand to Japan and established it as the dominant internet service in the country. Purchasing Vodafone UK‘s mobile license in 2006 gave it access to Japan’s 100m+ mobile subscribers and since then the company has innovated in bringing iPhone and iPad to the market, promoted Twitter and recently invested in video streaming service uStream amongst other things.
The company’s enigmatic figurehead is, Masayoshi Son. A third-generation Korean Japanese, he was not considered a full Japanese citizen until his family changed and adopted a Japanese sounding surname. Forbes pegs his net worth at 7 billion dollars, putting him ahead of Japan’s youngest billionaire by quite some margin and making him the richest man in Japan. As an outsider, he and his company is frequently at odds with the government regarding access to signal broadcasting rights and other areas of operations. During the webcast, he announced the start of a 10-year plan to find someone worthy of following in his footsteps as CEO.
Son pursued his interests in business by securing a meeting with Japan McDonald’s president Den Fujita. Taking his advice, Son began studying English and computer science. At age 16, Son moved to California and finished high school while staying with friends and family in South San Francisco. He then enrolled at University of California, Berkeley where he majored in economics and took some computer science courses.
After graduation Son became convinced that anything related to microchips could yield a fortune. He decided to produce at least one entrepreneurial idea a day – scoring a big success by patenting a translating device that he eventually sold to Sharp for $1 million. With the cash from that he then began importing space Invaders arcade machines back into UC Berkeley.
Do you think you could follow in Son’s footsteps? Masayoshi Son 2.0, as the search will be known will involve about 300 people in the Softbank Academia program. 10% of members are expected to be foreigners.
According to a more detailed report in Asahi News, Son sees his retirement as the biggest danger for the company. He is now 52 and will be stepping down before he reaches 65. The next one for the job will have an ambitious platform ahead as Softbank aims to increase the number of companies it runs by over 5 fold.
More at Asahi News.