Is this the start of yet another renaissance? “ The moment to counter-attack draws near”affirmed, in June, to its shareholders, Masayoshi Son, the founder and president of SoftBank, Japanese technology giant, in great financial difficulty since 2022. Citing improving accounts, the whimsical leader promised a new stage in the development of a group built with more or less successful investments in hundreds of start-ups considered promising.
And once again, Mr. Son claims to have found the martingale. This time it will be artificial intelligence. The future of SoftBank, a historic financier of new technologies for more than two decades, will be based on AI. She has “reignited my desire to invest in technology”, explains the boss. The IPO on Wall Street, in September, of one of its nuggets, the British Arm, the world benchmark for microprocessor architectures, potential beneficiary of the growth of AI, will be the founding moment of this revival.
Published in mid-August, the results for the first quarter of its 2023-2024 fiscal year do, it is true, suggest a semblance of improvement for SoftBank. Admittedly, the losses amounted to 477.6 billion yen (3 billion euros) between April and June, while analysts were counting on a small profit of 75 billion yen. But the results are improving: a year ago, SoftBank and its powerful fund VisionFund posted 3,200 billion yen (20.2 billion euros) in losses over the same period of the year.
Get out of adversity
The Tokyo-based group, with 55,000 employees, wants to find new heights after having plunged, as so often since its creation. And this without ever shaking the confidence of Masayoshi Son, 69e world fortune, according to the magazine Forbes. Because the businessman has everything of the phoenix and he displays a genuine talent for getting out of adversity. Born in 1957 in Tosu (on the island of Kyushu, in the south-west of the Archipelago), he was the youngest of a family of Koreans who settled in Japan during the colonial period (1910-1945). His birth name is Son Jeong-ui. The choice of a Japanese first name made it possible to escape discrimination.
His taste for business develops in contact with his father who is creating a series of businesses. From the end of college, the father sells soju (Korean alcohol) contraband. He then started raising pigs, then managed a pachinko room (Japanese slot machines) and a consumer credit service.
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