Vision & Strategy

SoftBank Group History

1981-1996

PC and Software

Founding of the SoftBank Group and rise of the PC

The Beginning

The Beginning

Masayoshi Son studied at the University of California, Berkeley in the U.S. and immersed himself in various inventions and businesses. Then he decided to return to Japan to start a new business of his own.

SOFTBANK Corp. Japan created to distribute packaged software

September 1981

SOFTBANK Corp. Japan created to distribute packaged software

While studying in the U.S., Masayoshi Son came across a striking picture of a microchip on a science magazine, which convinced him that the age of personal computers was coming. He moved on to launch the very first business to distribute PC software throughout Japan. He named his company SOFTBANK Corp. Japan (current SoftBank Group Corp.) ―a software bank that would serve as the infrastructure of the new information society to be built in Japan.

Entered publishing business, launching Oh! PC and Oh! MZ

May 1982

Entered publishing business, launching Oh! PC and Oh! MZ

As PCs became more popular in Japan, SOFTBANK Corp. Japan launched Oh! PC and Oh! MZ in May 1982. Those monthly magazines targeted exclusively manufacturers and engineers, a stark contrast to the general PC magazines that were dominant in the industry at the time. The unique style of SoftBank’s magazines gained much public attention.

Established SoftBank Holdings Inc. in the U.S.

March 1994

Established SoftBank Holdings Inc. in the U.S.

Aiming to transform into a global company, SOFTBANK Corp. Japan changed its name to SoftBank Corp. (current SoftBank Group Corp.) in July 1990. During this period, SoftBank brought new services to Japan from the U.S. As a part of it, SoftBank Holdings Inc. was established in the U.S. to identify investment opportunities in promising Internet-related companies.

Registered with Japan Securities Dealers Association

July 1994

Registered with Japan Securities Dealers Association

SoftBank Corp. (current SoftBank Group Corp.) registered with the Japan Securities Dealers Association and began offering shares publicly on the over-the-counter (OTC) market. Using the 20 billion yen raised from this offering, SoftBank began considering a large-scale acquisition.

Through SoftBank Holdings Inc., acquired the events division of Ziff Communications Company, took a capital stake in the exhibition department of The Interface Group which operated “COMDEX,” the world’s largest computer trade show, and acquired Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., a publisher of PC WEEK.

1994 - 1996

Through SoftBank Holdings Inc., acquired the events division of Ziff Communications Company, took a capital stake in the exhibition department of The Interface Group which operated “COMDEX,” the world’s largest computer trade show, and acquired Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., a publisher of PC WEEK.

Following the launch of OTC trading in July 1994, SoftBank Corp. (current SoftBank Group Corp.) acquired a computer trade show operator and a publisher in the U.S.
Masayoshi Son describes the acquisition as a way to “get a map and a compass” for a voyage into the center of information technology. The acquisition of Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., a publishing division of Ziff Communications Company, helped discover embryonic Yahoo! Inc. in the U.S.

1996-2006

The Internet

Supporting the benefits of broadband in Japan

Established Yahoo Japan Corporation through joint investment with Yahoo! Inc. in the U.S.

January 1996

Established Yahoo Japan Corporation through joint investment with Yahoo! Inc. in the U.S.

To launch a full-scale Internet business in Japan, SoftBank Corp. (current SoftBank Group Corp.) established Yahoo Japan Corporation through joint investment with Yahoo! Inc. in the U.S., after taking a stake in it in November 1995.
1996 was a remarkable year for SoftBank as the company moved to launch an increasing number of several Internet-related businesses and subsidiaries.

SoftBank Corp. listed on the First Section of Tokyo Stock Exchange

January 1998

SoftBank Corp. listed on the First Section of Tokyo Stock Exchange

The company demerged its divisions into separate companies to become a pure holding company in the following year, creating a new operating structure with increased business mobility.

Investment in Alibaba.com Corporation

2000

Investment in Alibaba.com Corporation

The two companies, current Alibaba Group Holding Limited and SoftBank Group Corp., built a close relationship through business partnerships, joint ventures, joint investments, and other collaborations.

BB Technologies Corporation launched Yahoo! BB broadband service

September 2001

BB Technologies Corporation launched Yahoo! BB broadband service

Aiming to provide cheaper and faster access to the Internet in Japan, SoftBank launched Yahoo! BB, a comprehensive broadband commercial service using ADSL, in September 2001. The service was widely accepted with the name Yahoo! BB, offering twice the speed and about half the price of competitors’ offerings.

Acquired shares of JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD and entered fixed-line telecommunications business

July 2004

Acquired shares of JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD and entered fixed-line telecommunications business

In addition to its fast-growing broadband service, SoftBank evolves into a telecommunications organization operating on fixed-line telecommunications networks and data communication services for corporate use, by acquiring 100% ownership of JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. (current SoftBank Corp.).

SoftBank Group's new corporate identity

December 2004

SoftBank Group's new corporate identity

The SoftBank Group introduces a new brand symbol comprised of double lines, based on the banner of Kaientai, a company led by Ryoma Sakamoto. The company later changed its brand color to shining silver.

For more details, click here.

Acquired shares of Fukuoka Daiei Hawks Corp.

January 2005

Acquired shares of Fukuoka Daiei Hawks Corp.

Following the completion of the transactions to acquire Fukuoka Daiei HAWKS, Fukuoka SoftBank HAWKS was born. With this entry into professional baseball, SoftBank’s profile rose significantly as the team’s owner company. Its corporate reputation and brand recognition were also enhanced.

2006-2014

Mobile

Becoming a telecommunications leader

Acquired Vodafone K.K. to enter mobile communications

April 2006

Acquired Vodafone K.K. to enter mobile communications

Believing in the arrival of the mobile Internet age, SoftBank intended to build a mobile communications business from scratch. But it had the opportunity to acquire Vodafone K.K.’s shares and entered mobile communications, which it rebranded as SoftBank Mobile Corp. (current SoftBank Corp.) in October 2006.

SoftBank Mobile Corp. released iPhone 3G

July 2008

SoftBank Mobile Corp. released iPhone 3G

SoftBank Mobile Corp. (current SoftBank Corp.) expanded its customer base through affordable and revolutionary mobile plans, further strengthened network and a wide variety of device choices. As the exclusive provider of iPhone 3G in Japan, the company released the device on July 11, 2008. People queued in front of SoftBank shops throughout Japan.

Unveiled SoftBank’s Next 30-Year Vision

June 2010

Unveiled SoftBank’s Next 30-Year Vision

As SoftBank Corp. (current SoftBank Group Corp.) entered its 30th year, the company asked for suggestions and ideas on its goals, from within and outside the company. When SoftBank unveiled its vision for the next 30 years, the SoftBank Group reconfirmed its aim: to become the most needed company from people around the world.

For more details, click here.

Established SB Energy Corp. to promote the increased adoption of renewable energy

October 2011

Established SB Energy Corp. to promote the increased adoption of renewable energy

After experiencing the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, Masayoshi Son had come to see the need for new energy that is safe and sustainable. In October 2011, SoftBank Corp. (current SoftBank Group Corp.) created SB Energy Corp. to promote the increased adoption of renewable energy and expanding business within and beyond Japan.

Acquired U.S.-based Sprint

July 2013

Acquired U.S.-based Sprint

The acquisition of a U.S.-based company Sprint as a subsidiary was completed and the SoftBank Group became a telecommunications operator with one of the largest customer bases in the U.S. and Japan.

2014-

AI, IoT and Smart Robotics

Driving the AI revolution as a strategic investment holding company

Pepper is born

June 2014

Pepper is born

SoftBank Mobile Corp. (current SoftBank Corp.) and ALDEBARAN Robotics SAS (current SoftBank Robotics Europe SAS) announced Pepper – the world's first humanoid robot that can recognize human faces and emotions.

Alibaba Group Holding Limited lists on the New York Stock Exchange

September 2014

Alibaba Group Holding Limited lists on the New York Stock Exchange

Company name of SoftBank Corp. changed to SoftBank Group Corp., and company name of SoftBank Mobile Corp. changed to SoftBank Corp.

July 2015

Company name of SoftBank Corp. changed to SoftBank Group Corp., and company name of SoftBank Mobile Corp. changed to SoftBank Corp.

SoftBank Corp. changed its company name to SoftBank Group Corp. to clearly identify its role as a holding company driving future global development.

  • * SoftBank BB Corp., SoftBank Telecom Corp. and Ymobile Corporation (eAccess and WILLCOM merged and changed company name) merged into SoftBank Mobile Corp. on April 1, 2015. It was renamed SoftBank Corp. on July 1, 2015.
September 2016

September 2016

Acquired UK-based ARM Holdings as a subsidiary

In anticipation of the IoT era, where all things are connected to the Internet, SoftBank Group Corp. has made ARM, a leader in semiconductor technology, a subsidiary.

Held first major close of the SoftBank Vision Fund

May 2017

Held first major close of the SoftBank Vision Fund

SoftBank Vision Fund is established to invest in companies with the potential to bring about the AI revolution. The fund aims to energetically drive the next stage of the Information Revolution forward by investing in innovative technologies and entrepreneurs that promise to shape the future.

Acquired U.S.-based Fortress Investment Group LLC

December 2017

Acquired U.S.-based Fortress Investment Group LLC

SoftBank Group Corp. completes acquisition of Fortress, a leading, highly diversified global investment firm.

SoftBank Corp. listed on the First Section of Tokyo Stock Exchange

December 2018

SoftBank Corp. listed on the First Section of Tokyo Stock Exchange

The listing of SoftBank Corp. shares clarified the roles of SoftBank Group Corp., the global investment company, and SoftBank Corp., its Japan-based telecommunications business.

New fund focused on Latin America

March 2019

New fund focused on Latin America

SoftBank Group Corp. aims to drive the innovation through technologies in fast-growing Latin American countries.

Launch of the SoftBank Vision Fund 2

October 2019

Launch of the SoftBank Vision Fund 2

The fund is aimed at facilitating the continued acceleration of the AI revolution through investment in market-leading, tech-enabled growth companies.

Merger of Sprint and T-Mobile completed

April 2020

Merger of Sprint and T-Mobile completed

The merger of Sprint and T-Mobile US was completed. In June, SoftBank Group Corp. divested a portion of its shares in the new combined company T-Mobile.

Established a new company for COVID-19 saliva PCR testing

July 2020

Established a new company for COVID-19 saliva PCR testing

With the aim of preventing the further spread of COVID-19 pandemic and achieving an early normalization of economic activities in Japan, SoftBank Group Corp. established SB Coronavirus Inspection Center Corp. to provide safe and high-quality saliva PCR testing to local governments and private companies at low price, charging only the actual cost.

1981–1996
PC and Software
1996–2006
The Internet
2006–2014
Mobile
2014–
AI, IoT and Smart Robotics