SoftBank’s Son, lacking US$30m, missed out on Amazon stake

TOKYO • SoftBank Group Corp founder Masayoshi Son (picture), famous for his early investment in China’s top e-commerce company, also had the chance to own a big stake in Amazon. com Inc — but he missed out over US$30 million (RM122.06 million).

Son, speaking at the Milken Institute conference in Tokyo, said he was close to striking a deal to acquire 30% of the US e-commerce pioneer with CEO Jeff Bezos in its early years. Son offered US$100 million, but Bezos insisted on US$130 million. It’s not that Son thought the stock wasn’t worth it; he just didn’t have the money.

“We were laughing about it when I met him again recently,” Son said. “It’s a big mistake that I didn’t make that investment. I just didn’t have enough cash. But my image, my vision was right.”

Amazon’s market value is now more than US$860 billion, meaning that stake would be worth about US$260 billion. SoftBank’s stake in China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is now worth ¥14.5 trillion (RM532.07 billion).

In the Milken Institute interview, Son made the point about Amazon as he explained why he has such a voracious appetite for raising capital. SoftBank announced a US$100 billion Vision Fund to make technology investments, the largest fund ever of its kind. Son has used that money to take stakes in many of the world’s most valuable start-ups from Uber Technologies Inc and WeWork Cos to Didi Chuxing.

“This time I don’t want to make the same mistake,” Son said. “So, I prepare enough money.” — Bloomberg