MADISON, Wis.—Only history will be able to judge, perhaps 10 or 20 years from now, whether SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is the Don Quixote of our time — an impractical dreamer driven by his huge ego — or a prescient investor in the future of a connected world enhanced by artificial intelligence.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son
Forty-eight hours after SoftBank’s announcement of its ARM acquisition, the jury is barely empaneled. Expert opinions in financial and electronics communities remain deeply divided over the meaning of Son’s $32 billion gamble for the market and the future of the high-tech industry.
Shares of SoftBank tumbled 10 percent after ARM acquisition announcement (Source: Thomson-Reuters)
Skeptical views reflect the lack of perceived “synergy” between the two companies’ core businesses. Double down
Doggedly pursued by such “synergy” questions during the press conference held separately for the Japanese media
, Son doubled down: “In the Japanese chess game [called ‘Go’], I always try to move my stones by visualizing what the whole board would look like seven moves later.”
In other words, in Son’s mind, the ARM acquisition is akin to his ‘Go’ tactics, as he foresees the potential impact of moves not just on this one match but on the game itself.
Son said, “Well, those who get it, get it… others will probably never understand.”
These condescending comments from Son and his prophet-like attitude render him a less than sympathetic figure.
But Son isn’t fazed. He boasted Trumpishly about his record of making big bets at the right time on every “paradigm shift.” He claims to have not only predicted but acted upon every huge change in the market that has transformed the industry.
Next page: ARM—central to SoftBank's core biz