The business world is filled with just as many downfall stories as successful ones. It is not every day though that you encounter a redemption arc as impressive as the one SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son had when he recovered from the single largest loss of personal fortune in recorded history.
Classic Success Story
Son was born a Zainichi Korean in Japan in the late ‘50s. Together with his family, he made the move to California when he was a teenager.
And although he barely spoke English when he arrived, he managed to earn a degree in computer science and economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
The businessman developed an acumen for entrepreneurship early on and started his first business by renting out knock-off arcade games to laundromats. At 24, Son founded SoftBank back in Tokyo and spent the next decade building it up to be a media empire.
SoftBank eventually expanded to operate a stock brokerage firm and launch Yahoo! Japan, which would become the country’s largest search engine. The company went public in the mid-’90s and turned Son into an overnight billionaire.
At the height of his success, Son’s personal net worth ballooned to $76 billion while SoftBank’s market cap reached $180 billion. By the turn of the new millennium, SoftBank was considered to be among the largest technology companies around.
Reaching this peak, it was only a matter of time before it plummeted as the dot-com bubble that aided its rise to the top burst 2002. Given the amount of SoftBank’s exposure to the internet sector, its market cap tanked as well, decreasing by an unbelievable 98% within two years.
The company saw its value drop to just $2.5 billion and Son’s personal wealth was practically wiped out. When the smoke cleared the Korean-Japanese businessman was only worth $1.1 billion after losing $74.9 billion.
Rising Back up Again
Falling from such a great height didn’t stop Son from getting back to work to recover and rebuild his company though. He set his eyes on what he called the next stage of the internet: mobile internet.
One of the moves he made to make this happen is the acquisition of telecommunications giant Sprint. Fast forward to today, the now-62-year-old businessman has definitely recovered from his past losses.
While his net worth hasn’t reached the same heights as before, he still holds a spot among the world’s richest with a personal fortune of $31.4 billion.