Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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# 106 Masayoshi Son $15.1B

Random fact: Youngest brother, Taizo Son, became a billionaire in 2013.

Overview

Son is the founder and largest shareholder of SoftBank, a Japanese mobile phone and investment group. The Tokyo-based company owns stakes in more than 1,400 businesses, including Yahoo Japan and Alibaba. Softbank reported revenue of 12.5 trillion yen ($117.6 billion) in the year to March 31, 2021.

As of :
Last change +$96.7M ( +0.7%)
YTD change -$5.03B ( -25.1%)
Biggest asset 9984 JP Equity
Country / Region Japan
Age 64
Industry Technology
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Masayoshi Son's net worth of $15.1B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Son's wealth comes from a 29% stake in publicly traded SoftBank, a telecommunications company in Japan. It has more than 1,400 subsidiaries, many of which are closely held internet businesses, according to its website.

Son controls the stake directly, and through holding companies, according a May 23, 2022 company filing. Son has pledged almost one-third of his holdings as collateral against loans with close to 20 financial institutions. All SoftBank shares held as collateral have been excluded from his net worth calculation.

The valuation was updated on March 11, 2022 to reflect a re-count of Son's Softbank stake based on recent filings and this led to a decrease in the calculation of about $2.4 billion.

Son owns residential property in Tokyo, which is valued at $45 million, according to Mitsuo Hashimoto, president of Housing Japan. Son bought property in California for $117.5 million in November 2012, according to press reports at the time.

Matthew Nicholson, a spokesman for SoftBank, declined to comment on the billionaire's net worth.

Biography

Birthdate: 8/11/1957
Family: Married, 2 children
Education: University of California Berkeley

Son was born in Tosu, on the Japanese island of Kyushu, to a Korean immigrant family in 1957. He was the second of four brothers. His father worked at fisheries, farms, restaurants and pachinko game parlors. Because of rampant discrimination against Korean immigrants, the family adopted the Japanese surname Yasumoto in order to assimilate. Still, Son recalled being pelted with stones in grade school by Japanese classmates, according to an autobiography.

Son met his idol, McDonald's Japan founder Den Fujita in 1972, who a year earlier had started the restaurant chain that would become the largest in Japan. Fujita advised Son to study in the US a year later at age 16, Son moved to San Francisco and enrolled in high school. He assumed his Korean name, and entered the University of California at Berkeley. A 1975 Popular Science cover story on the microchip inspired Son to study computer science along with economics. He made his first fortune by inventing a multilingual translator and then selling it to Sharp for about $1 million. He parlayed it by importing the Space Invaders game machines from Japan and leasing them throughout the Berkeley campus.

He returned to Japan with a bachelor's degree in economics and created SoftBank, first as a software distributor and computer magazine publisher. In the late 1980s, Son offered a system enabling fixed-line phone users to choose operators with the cheapest rates, challenging the dominance of NTT. He took money from that operation and invested it in Yahoo Japan shares in 1995. He also bought a controlling stake in online broker E*Trade Group.

Son introduced SoftBank's broadband Internet service to Japan in 2011, wooing customers with free modems and prices that undercut NTT. By 2006, he bought Vodafone Japan for $17.5 billion in cash and debt, borrowing $11.2 billion from seven banks to fund the acquisition. He renamed the unit Softbank Mobile, which had less than 16 million mobile subscribers. Through Son's friendship with Steve Jobs, SoftBank became the exclusive supplier of iPhones in Japan. That helped double its operating margin to 21 percent by 2012, and increase mobile subscribers to 30 million.

He donated $125 million and his future salary until retirement to help victims of Japan's worst earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011. He also plans to build solar farms across Japan to generate electricity to replace nuclear power using a SoftBank unit, SB Energy. Son negotiated to buy a 70 percent stake in Sprint Nextel for $20.1 billion in October 2012.

The billionaire knows Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Rupert Murdoch and Tadashi Yanai, according to an April 2014 Nikkei report. Gates would make Son's 26th-story office in Shiodome his first stop when he visits Tokyo, while Ellison invited Son to his Silicon Valley home where he met Jobs, Nikkei said. Uniqlo's Yanai has said he plans to remain a Softbank advisory board member as long as he's alive, Nikkei reported.

Milestones
  • 1957 Born in Saga Prefecture, Japan, to a family of Korean immigrants.
  • 1977 Enrolls at U.C. Berkeley, studies economics and computer science.
  • 1979 Invents electronic translation device. Sells it to Sharp for $1 million.
  • 1981 Returns to Japan and creates SoftBank with $80,000 in savings.
  • 1996 SoftBank forms Yahoo Japan and becomes primary shareholder of Yahoo Inc.
  • 2008 Sets up Alibaba.com Japan with Alibaba group.
  • 2015 Plans a $20 billion solar power venture in India with Bharti and Foxconn.
  • 2016 Meets Donald Trump and pledges to create 50,000 jobs by investing in startups.