Masayoshi Son: The sage of SoftBank

May 09, 2014 15:54
SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son is the big winner from Alibaba's push to go public. Photo: Bloomberg

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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