Masayoshi Son may not make it to Singularity. Today in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, Mr. Son spoke about the future and answered the question: Why do we need so much money? Based upon the announced deals so far, Softbank is committed to investing $25 billion in Vision Fund, $3.3 billion for private equity firm, Fortress, and a rumoured $2 billion for WeWork. In addition, Softbank is part of the new, $500 million funding round for SoFi.
At the end of last year, Softbank had about $22 billion in just cash, even after making the $32 billion ARM purchase in July 2016. Selling its stake in Supercell for $8 billion added to Softbank’s cash balance last year. To find more money, Softbank has done a sale-leaseback for $2 billion and raised $8 billion by monetizing its Alibaba holdings in 2016.
Besides cash, Softbank needs to worry about debt; in this case about $30 billion, some of which came from the Sprint acquisition. It appears, Softbank is trying to unload its Sprint investment through a merger with T-Mobile. If that’s true, then it would be a reversal of Mr. Son’s original vision and evidence of another problem: Mr. Son sometimes acts more as gambler than businessperson.
Fortune portrayed Softbank’s foray into India’s tech scene this way:
Around the time Arora joined SoftBank, Masayoshi Son decided that India was the next big growth opportunity, and Son tackled investing in the region in his usual swashbuckling style. He approached Kunal Bahl, founder of fast-growing e-commerce startup Snapdeal, with an unheard-of offer to invest $1 billion for a majority stake.
Just like Singularity, Mr. Sons’ ambitions may exceed the practical limits of Softbank’s balance sheet. So a better question for Mr. Son is: How does he spend money?