Remember when the Japanese operator SoftBank announced that they were going to buy 70% of Sprint? Everyone in the office scratched their heads because we frankly didn’t know how to react to the deal. Now, thanks to an exhaustively researched piece on The Wall Street Journal about Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s CEO, we not only know a lot more the Japanese company, but we’re also filled with excitement. Starting with Mr. Son’s history, he grew up in a shack in the middle of nowhere. He wanted to change his life, so he went to America. He went to High School in California and then got a degree in Economics from U.C. Berkeley. The WSJ piece then goes on to cover what he did over the next decade or two, but let’s focus on SoftBank, which actually started out as a software distributor.
Mr. Son bought Vodafone Japan in 2006. At the time, SoftBank was an internet service provider. When he finally took control of the wireless operator, he slashed prices by 75% in a bid to gain new customers. Today, SoftBank is the third largest operator in the country. Last month, SoftBank announced their intent to buy a local competitor called EMOBILE. When that deal goes through, SoftBank will become the second largest operator in the country with 39.1 million customers. The leader, NTT DOCOMO, has over 60 million.
Why are we so excited about Masayoshi Son? He means business. One of his friends remembers visiting an ice cream shop with him. Know what Mr. Son said to the guy working there that day? His milkshake “had better be extra thick” or he wouldn’t have paid.
What kind of sane person says that?
The WSJ goes on to say that Mr. Son is going to dedicate himself to Sprint. He will be overseeing what devices they offer, the price plans they offer, and even the ads that they’re going to run. Once a week he’ll have a conference call with Sprint, and once a month he’ll visit them in person.
We can’t wait to see what this short 55 year old man can do.