Alibaba’s Jack Ma warned SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son that having too much money can lead to a “lot of mistakes.”
“You don’t make mistakes when you don’t have money,” Ma said during a panel discussion at the University of Tokyo, according to The Financial Times. “When you have too much money, you will make a lot of mistakes.”
But Son said that he would “continue to invest more and more” despite the fact that the firm's $10-plus billion WeWork bailout — an investment he called an error in judgment — triggered a loss of ¥970 billion ($8.9 billion) at SoftBank’s Vision Fund and a smaller fund.
“My passion and dream is more than 100 times bigger than what I have achieved so far,” Son said. While he admitted he at times has lost “a lot of money” due to investment decisions made on a gut feeling, that intuition did lead to his most successful investment to date — in Alibaba. SoftBank’s 26 percent stake in the Chinese eCommerce group is now worth nearly $140 billion.
Son added that the investments made through the Vision Fund were only “the beginning” for him. In fact, Vision Fund 2 was announced in July at $108 billion, although reception by investors has been weak.
“I’m not doing it as a job. It’s fun. I cannot stop,” he said. “I want to create an organization that can last and continue to become more and more important.”
SoftBank sunk more than $10 billion into office-sharing startup WeWork after its IPO attempt failed. Son admitted he had “turned a blind eye” to problems with WeWork’s founder and CEO Adam Neumann. Once having a $47 billion valuation, WeWork’s dropped to $10-12 billion.
“I learned a harsh lesson and I should have known better,” Son said at the time. “But I don’t regret it too much. I won’t be too nervous about future investments. I am staying confident.”