TOKYO, June 25 (Reuters) – Japanese firms are known for long-term planning but mobile phone operator Softbank Corp (9984.T) has outdone all rivals with a 30-year plan to become one of the world’s 10 most valuable firms worth $2 trillion.
In a two-hour speech to shareholders, founder and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son spoke of how he built Softbank up to become Japan’s 15th most valuable company with a market value of $30 billion through large acquisitions and how alliances would form the basis of new expansion plans.
Although vague on details, in 30 years time Softbank will likely to have some 5,000 partners, in which it will hold stakes of 20-40 percent, a more than 6-fold increase from now, he said.
Current partners include Yahoo Japan (4689.T) and Chinese e-commerce firms Alibaba.com (1688.HK) and Taobao.
“I have achieved most of the things I said I would do,” said Son, who Forbes magazine named the world’s 127th richest person with a net worth of $5.9 billion in March.
“This is a pie-in-the-sky dream I’m talking about, but a dream that I am seriously pursuing,” he said
With tears in his eyes and to applause from shareholders as well as 1,000 fans that had won special tickets to attend the event, Son spoke of his poor childhood, how hard it was to be of Korean descent in Japan and the pain of leaving his family to become an entrepreneur.
Son, 52, also unveiled a plan to set up “Softbank Academia” to groom his successor so that he can pass the baton on in his 60s. The academy will invite about 300 executives from inside and outside the company to participate, he said.
“The purpose of this is only one thing: to make Masayoshi Son 2.0,” he said.
With a capacity for reinvention matched by few firms, Softbank began in 1981 as a software distributor, bought publishing firm Ziff-Davis, then became Internet investor company with big stakes in big Internet companies before buying a telecom operator to become Japan’s No.3 mobile phone operator after NTT DoCoMo (9437.T) and KDDI Corp (9433.T).
It is also now the only Japanese carrier to offer Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) widely popular iPhone and iPad.
But Son says that 30 years is just one step in the company’s long-term future.
Before he hands over his empire, he wants to pave the way for the company to last three centuries, when he expects robots with brain-like computers to be interacting with humans and people with different languages to be communicating through chips.
“As a founder, my task is to make the company’s DNA,” he said, emphasising his only goal is to make everyone happy with what he calls an “information revolution.”
(Editing by Edwina Gibbs)
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