SoftBank CEO 'embarrassed and flustered' by track record

Masayoshi Son lamented that Japanese companies are not growing fast enough compared with US and Chinese counterparts.

    The 62-year-old billionaire businessman has seen several investments under perform ahead of IPOs [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]
    The 62-year-old billionaire businessman has seen several investments under perform ahead of IPOs [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]

    SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son has said he is "embarrassed and flustered" by his track record, in comments to Nikkei Business magazine. 

    "When I look at the growth of US and Chinese companies, I feel strongly it's not good enough," Son said in an interview.

    Son, the founder of SoftBank, is spending most of his time on the group's investing activities - centred on the $100bn Vision Fund - leaving the day-to-day running of core businesses such as telecoms operator SoftBank Corp to key lieutenants. 

    With portfolio company WeWork pulling its initial public offering (IPO) and valuations at other investments failing, SoftBank is struggling to attract investment to a second mammoth fund, Reuters news agency reported last week.

    Son touched on favourite themes in the interview, including the "extremely unsavoury" state of Japan and its "grass-eating" entrepreneurs - a Japanese phrase that makes a negative comparison with more aggressive meat-eaters.

    By contrasts "there is technological innovation in the US, China is growing mammoth and Southeast Asia is booming," Son said.

    Investor scepticism of the path to profitability for Vision Fund's investments in money-losing startups such as Uber Technologies and Slack Technologies has led to a market sell-off, with SoftBank Group shares on Monday closing down 30 percent from their July peak. 

    "I include myself when I say it is not the time for Japanese entrepreneurs to be making excuses," Son said. 

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency