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Softbank's Masayoshi Son unfazed by talk of a funding crunch or bloated valuations

Son is now betting on the internet revolution, which he believes will be "a 100 times bigger" than the industrial revolution, and India's ability to profit from it.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 17, 2016, 04.00 AM IST
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Son is now betting on the internet revolution, which he believes will be "a 100 times bigger" than the industrial revolution, and India's ability to profit from it.
Son is now betting on the internet revolution, which he believes will be "a 100 times bigger" than the industrial revolution, and India's ability to profit from it.
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NEW DELHI: Where others see a big bubble, the man with biggest chequebook for India's Startup Inc sees the beginning of a Big Bang. Masayoshi Son, the founder of Japanese telecom conglomerate SoftBank, is unfazed by talk of a funding crunch or bloated valuations. Instead, he is only doubling down on India.

"If I rescale, I will only scale up," Son, 58, said at the Startup India event. Son's optimism about India matters because, through his India-born heir-apparent Nikesh Arora, SoftBank has become something of a bellwether for the country’s attractiveness as a startup investment destination. So far, Soft-Bank has invested some $2 billion (Rs 13,000 crore) in Indian startups including online marketplace Snapdeal, cab aggregator Ola, budget hotels aggregator Oyo, housing.com and hyperlocal delivery service Grofers. Son is known to be an unconventional investor who has made, lost and regained a fortune that is now estimated to be worth around $12 billion. He is the biggest shareholder in Alibaba, making a bet on the company when it was but a speck on the internet horizon.

Son is now betting on the internet revolution, which he believes will be "a 100 times bigger" than the industrial revolution, and India's ability to profit from it. He has promised to invest $10 billion in India over the next few years, and said that he is more excited about the country's prospects every time he visits. Japan's second-richest man brushed off concerns about upcoming consolidation in India, "there will be more new companies popping up in India than consolidation... This is the beginning of the big bang."

Son, who lost the bulk of his fortune in the dotcom crash, cautioned Indian founders about being carried away with new-found wealth and attention. "Indian entrepreneurs should not misunderstand the big cheque from investors as (proof ) that they are big fish."

"The first 5-10 years is a stage of harvesting where the focus should be on acquiring customers, gaining scale, improving customer service," he said. Son is on his third visit to India in less than two years. He met prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday.



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