SoftBank's Masayoshi Son Bullish on India

SoftBank's Masayoshi Son Bullish on India

Economic Times reports on an interview with Softbank Group’s chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, and president and COO Nikesh Arora.

Masayoshi Son. Softbank Chairman and CEO
Masayoshi Son. Softbank Chairman and CEO

Excerpts of the interview follow:

On minimal or no government help for startups in India:

Son – Best thing for a government to do is to eliminate obstacles like filing registrations, getting licenses and so on… tedious steps slow everything down. Digital India is going to help these startups with lots of opportunities.

On experiences in dealing with Indian startups:

Arora – When you set up a national business, states have different regulations, processes, it becomes cumbersome. That needs to be rationalized.

On exercising caution due to funding overload:

Arora – Masa and I share this view that the first phase of Indian startups is over. It was a lot of people pursuing the same ideas or variants of the same idea. Now there’s been a degree of rationalization, and Masa has been saying that this is the time for smart investing. It’s important they [startups] do it intelligently, create long-term value and a sustainable business model. That’s the phase we’re getting into.

On Arora’s impact on India investments:

Son – I’m so lucky and happy that I found Nikesh … I say that publicly. I’ve said Nikesh will be my successor. That is why I could go into Softbank 2.0, it means true globalization of Softbank. Next 10 years India will be the world’s best opportunity. Nikesh happened to be Indian. That’s a good coincidence. Before Nikesh, we never had this level of heavy thinking. I made decisions on instinct not mentally thinking from many different angles, now the decision quality is so much sharper. Going forward, we’ll be more aggressive to make investments. We now have the organization, the portfolio companies are there and can help each other. It’s a great start and we will definitely continue and expand.

On investing in $10 million in India since 2014:

Son – We said $10 billion in 10 years. In one year, we have invested $2billion, so we are outpacing our investment target and we would accelerate even more. Our solar investments will be big. If we do 10 gigawatts that alone is going to be $20 billion. So it will definitely in total much beyond than $10 billion over the next decade.  

On themes the company is tracking in India:

Son – We may venture into wind energy. We have started some efforts in Japan but solar is more drastic in cost deduction. Solar can be placed in many places. Wind is limited to locations. The mixture of wind and solar actually makes a good combination.

On the long term strength of local entrepreneurs in India:

Usually local entrepreneurs have more passion than vice presidents of international of a global company. In the next 10-20 years, there’s not much the global guy can have an advantage over the local champion. In fact, the local player has the advantage of knowing the local culture and adapting to it. Also many people want to follow their own national heroes. Global players cannot change their technology platform easily according to each market. They have the benefit of scale but that in itself becomes their weakness.


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