While Son offered $100 million, Bezos insisted on $130 million. It’s not that Son thought the stock wasn’t worth it; he just didn’t have the money.
SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son, famous for his early investment in China’s top e-commerce company, also had the chance to own a big stake in Amazon.com Inc. — but he missed out for want of $30 million.
Son, speaking at the Milken Institute conference in Tokyo, said he was close to striking a deal to acquire 30 per cent of the U.S. e-commerce pioneer with Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos in its early years. Son offered $100 million, but Bezos insisted on $130 million. It’s not that Son thought the stock wasn’t worth it; he just didn’t have the money.
“We were laughing about it when I met him again recently,” Son said. “It’s a big mistake that I didn’t make that investment. I just didn’t have enough cash. But my image, my vision was right.”
Amazon’s market value is now more than $860 billion, meaning that stake would be worth about $260 billion. SoftBank’s stake in China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is worth about 14.5 trillion yen ($132 billion).
Son did mention he had been close to buying a stake in Amazon two years ago in an interview with David Rubenstein. Son didn’t mention the financial details of the transaction at that time.
In the Milken Institute interview, Son made the point about Amazon as he explained why he has such a voracious appetite for raising capital. SoftBank announced a $100 billion Vision Fund to make technology investments, the largest fund ever of its kind. Son has used that money to take stakes in many of the world’s most valuable startups from Uber Technologies Inc. and WeWork Cos. to Didi Chuxing.
“This time I don’t want to make the same mistake,” Son said. “So I prepare enough money.”