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Man who was 'richer than Bill Gates for three days' recalls what it felt like to lose $70 billion

Claire Reid

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Man who was 'richer than Bill Gates for three days' recalls what it felt like to lose $70 billion

Featured Image Credit: David Rubenstein/ YouTube / Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for The New York Times

A man who was once richer than Bill Gates - albeit briefly - has revealed what it was like to see a complete reversal of fortunes as he battled bankruptcy.

While most of us can only dream of having more than a billion in the bank, it was very much a reality for Masayoshi Son, Chief Executive Officer of SoftBank.

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Son invested heavily in the internet space at the turn of the 21st century, when it was very much a growth market.

However, he wasn't expecting a huge tech crash to send the market tumbling into free-fall and seeing his money disappear before his eyes.

Son personally lost $70 billion of net worth, the greatest loss any human being has suffered financially.

Speaking with David Rubenstein for Bloomberg in 2017, Son explained: "Before that my personal net worth was increasing by $10 billion by per week," at which a few amazed laughs emerged from the audience.

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"Then I became richer than Bill Gates.

Masayoshi Son was richer than Bill Gates for three days. Credit: David Rubenstein/ YouTube
Masayoshi Son was richer than Bill Gates for three days. Credit: David Rubenstein/ YouTube

"Before I talked to anyone else, our stock started crashing. So, six months after that our share price went down 99 percent.

"We almost went bankrupt and somehow I survived."

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That's certainly something to tell the grandkids.

After he nearly went bankrupt, Son invested in well-known companies that were at less of a risk, such as Vodafone's mobile telephone business in Japan.

He continued: "That time I said now is the time to go next stage, which is the internet will become mobile internet.

"So, I had to go get the license of the government for the Spectrum or acquire Vodafone Japan."

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Son then spoke on how he needed $20 billion to acquire Vodafone Japan but he only had $2 billion in his bank account due to his massive losses.

Masayoshi Son, Chief Executive Officer of SoftBank. Credit: David Rubenstein/ YouTube
Masayoshi Son, Chief Executive Officer of SoftBank. Credit: David Rubenstein/ YouTube

Rubenstein then asked: "So, how did you get the money."

Son replied: "I convinced the bank that I can turn around Vodafone Japan and it will become successful with great cash flow.

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"They believed me and lent me money."

Since the mega losses at the turn of the century, Son revitalised his career by making big acquisitions such as the London based company ARM for £24 billion in 2016.

However, last year he faced criticism for the way he conducts his business practices, especially at Vision Fund, Softbank Group's investment vehicle.

Speaking in August 2022, Son said he was 'embarrassed' and 'ashamed' when pressed on talking about the way he ran the business.

Topics: News, Bill Gates, Money, Business, Technology

Claire Reid
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