Ever dream of having over $70 billion? How about losing it?
Well the man pictured, Masayoshi Son is the man who’s lost more money than any other person in history.
Who is Masayoshi Son? He is the founder and chairman/CEO of Softbank, a Japanese telephone company, and recent acquirer of Sprint Nextel Corporation, Softbank also holds significant interest in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group. Masayoshi Son started Softbank in 1981 as a publisher of software and media, and thanks to the dotcom boom of the 1990s, which was in transition into an Internet company was worth as much as $180 billion during that time.
Masayoshi Son was born in Japan to a Korean immigrant family, and was picked on as a child because of his Korean background in Japan.
At one point Son’s idol told him to go study in America, Den Fujita, who is the founder of McDonald’s Japan, encouraged Son to study abroad in the United States, and that is what he did. He moved to California at the age of 16 to learn English, ended up attending a local college, and transferred to the University of California-Berkeley and majored in economics.
While being an undergraduate student, he leveraged the connections of his father, whom at the time was running a pachinko parlor (pachinko is a type of Japanese pinball that can be played for recreation or more prominently, for gambling). His father had access to early arcade games from being in this industry, and Son began importing early consoles of arcade machines such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders, which he then went on and leased them to local bars and restaurants in Northern California, this business reportedly was how Masayoshi Son made his first million dollars.
Son was a busy man, during this time, he also created and patented the pocket translator, which he then proceeded to cold-call various companies until Sharp ended up agreeing to buy it for what would be worth today at around $1 million.
After graduating from college, Son returned to Japan and launched Softbank, a company that was created to challenge Japan’s telephone service monopoly at the time.
As previously mentioned, Softbank grew to a $180 billion valuation during the dotcom boom, and this pushed Masayoshi Son’s net worth to be reported at around $78 billion.
But in 2004, it all came crashing down, Softbank’s stock price was down approximately 98% from its peak, and it had blown billions on various other technology companies that failed, including Kozmo.com, More.com, SportsBrain, and Webvan.
But even at his lowest point during the recession, his net worth was still valued at $1.1 billion, while this is a lot for most people, can you imagine losing over $70 billion dollars pretty much overnight and most of your net worth? It is still insane.
Don’t feel bad for Masayoshi Son though, he’s since rebounded and is currently sitting on top of the Forbes Rich List for being the wealthiest man in Japan. His net worth is currently valued at $19.7 billion, and he owns amazing homes in Woodside, California, and Tokyo, Japan worth $117.5 million and $45 million respectively.
Son is also extremely generous, he has given $120 million of his personal wealth and has pledged to donate his salary until he retires to help tsunami victims.