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Opinion

Sideways: SoftBank's Son – the emperor’s new techno clothes

Outsiders struggling to make sense of the investing tactics of SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son can take some comfort: his own directors often seem just as puzzled.

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A recent news report quoted SoftBank board directors past and present admitting that they are confused by Son’s reasons for taking stakes and, in particular, by the valuations he is willing to pay for untested business ventures.

Son certainly likes to go with his gut – almost literally with a decision made after a 30-minute pitch to invest $200 million in a San Francisco startup with plans to grow vegetables indoors, for example.

He is not alone in letting a memorable anecdote affect a big business decision. When Comcast chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts unveiled a £22.1 billion bid for Sky at the end of February, he mentioned a conversation he had with a London cab driver about the superiority of Sky service to Virgin Media as one reason for his move.


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