From his relatively humble beginnings developing an electronic translator in the late 1970s (licensed to Sharp for a reported $1.5 million at current rates), to publishing and software sales in the early 1980s, to a mobile phone service, Son has created a behemoth. He has also enriched himself with a current fortune of some $23.8 billion, becoming Japan's richest man, per Forbes—despite losing what is said to total nearly $70 billion during the dot-com crash.
Taking his inspiration and logo from Kaientai, a forward-looking naval trading company operating in the final days of the samurai under the Tokugawa Shogunate, Son has been making aggressive bets on the future of technology. His $100 billion Vision Fund—which is backed by investors including the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, Apple, Qualcomm and Sharp—has invested in well-known companies such as Uber, NVIDIA, WeWork, GM's Cruise self-driving division and Slack.
Other notable SoftBank investments have included Didi Chuxing, China's Uber competitor.
Since the start of 2008, SoftBank and its various investment arms—including SoftBank Capital and SoftBank China Capital—have funneled $175 billion into 374 companies across 524 deals, according to the PitchBook Platform. Of these, 449 have been VC deals worth nearly $52 billion.
To help illustrate just how broad the conglomerate's reach has become, we put together a datagraphic to map SoftBank's actively held investments, which come to a current total of 348.
The graphic depicts current holdings only and does not reflect complete investing activity. Subsidiary holdings shown are those acquired or invested in since SoftBank purchased the parent company or entity. (For example, SoftBank acquired Sprint in July 2013. Sprint also acquired Clearwire that same month and Access Wireless in 2016. Sprint Accelerator invested in FitBark in 2014. All are thus nested below Sprint.)
Explore the datagraphic by dragging the image and scrolling to zoom: