Over the past three or four years, I have often been asked “What is SoftBank Group?” To that, I had been providing the short explanation that SoftBank Group (“SBG”) is an investment company. At the same time, I felt frustrated about how best to explain what the company really is. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to define SBG once again: Put simply, SBG is a capital provider driving the Information Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution, which began in the U.K. in the latter half of the 18th century, gained further momentum in other countries in the 19th century driven by the development of the steam engine. Providing the impetus for this revolution were inventors such as James Watt. In addition to inventors, capitalists including the Rothschilds, who took risks and provided capital to inventors, played an indispensable role. Inventors and capitalists together drove the Industrial Revolution, which triggered ongoing global GDP growth. Now, about 200 years later, in the 21st century, the Information Revolution is about to bloom. In similar fashion to the role played by inventors during the Industrial Revolution, entrepreneurs have been instrumental in leading the Information Revolution. And just as in the Industrial Revolution, the Information Revolution is steadily advancing as capital providers invest more and more into entrepreneurs.
SBG is especially keen to focus on AI, which is the most advanced component of the Information Revolution. We are proud to say that SBG is likely the largest provider of capital to entrepreneurs in the field of AI. AI is redefining every industry, including autonomous driving, healthcare, finance, education, and retail. Just as human power was replaced by machines in the Industrial Revolution, I suspect machines will be replaced by AI in the Information Revolution.
The most important goal for investors is to make money, but for capital providers, it is to create the future. The Rothschilds, as a capital provider, laid the foundation for our lives in the Industrial Revolution, and the future (from then) up to the present. Likewise, SBG, as a capital provider for the Information Revolution, has made it our mission to help shape the future. This is what being a capital provider for the Information Revolution means.
In the Information Revolution, especially the Information Revolution driven by AI, SBG will share a vision with AI entrepreneurs and aspire to shape the future together.
Recently, I am sometimes asked if SBG is a venture capitalist (VC). In simple terms, SBG may be a huge VC. From my perspective, however, I am not comfortable with this definition. I believe that SBG is a VC– “Vision Capitalist” that will shape the future of the Information Revolution over the course of several decades. Our corporate philosophy of “Information Revolution– Happiness for everyone” has not changed since our first day of business 40 years ago, no matter how many times our business has changed. As a capital provider for the Information Revolution and a Vision Capitalist, we will continue our efforts to make this philosophy a reality.