Date
24 September 2017
SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son is the big winner from Alibaba's push to go public. Photo: Bloomberg
SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son is the big winner from Alibaba's push to go public. Photo: Bloomberg

Masayoshi Son: The sage of SoftBank

Forget Jack Ma. Forget venture capital backers Silver Lake Management. The biggest winner from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s filing to go public will be Japan’s Masayoshi Son, according to a Bloomberg report Thursday.

Son’s SoftBank Corp. made a US$20 million bet 14 years ago on Alibaba, an unknown site linking Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers, the report said. The site is now the biggest name in the Chinese e-commerce game and SoftBank’s stake is valued in the region of US$58 billion.

Son, 56, is described as the “Warren Buffett of Asia” for his ability to spot a great deal a mile off. 

Over three decades, the report said, Son used borrowed money to transform the software wholesaler he founded in 1981 into a phone company spanning two continents. He was he first to introduce Apple Inc.’s iPhone to Japan and he boasts investments in 1,300-plus tech businesses.

He’s not only put money into Yahoo Japan Corp., the nation’s biggest Web portal, and smartphone game maker Zynga Inc., he has stakes in Cheezburger Network, a collection of humor websites, and the first and last name in online lists, Buzzfeed Inc., the report said.

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