Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp.
Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images
SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said on Wednesday that the Japanese investment firm plans to switch from “defense mode” to “attack mode” and wants to take advantage of the AI revolution.
“Now is the time to switch to attack mode,” Son said at an annual general meeting of shareholders.
“For the past few years, we’ve focused on being (un)’defense.’ Three years ago, we didn’t have a lot of cash on hand. But because we’ve been in defense mode, we’ve increased our available cash to five trillion yen ($35.3 billion),” said Son.
“We’re ready to switch to attack mode. I’m excited about that,” said Son.
The technology conglomerate, which engages in venture capital investments through its Vision Fund, has had its fair share of ups and downs. It was in “defense mode” as it halted new investments and wound down its stake in the company alibaba. In May, the Vision Fund reported a record loss of $32 billion.
“What I’m most interested in, what I’m working on the most, is the AI revolution. I believe humanity will be surpassed by computer or AI,” said Son.
“We’re eager to be at the forefront of the AI revolution,” said Son.
SoftBank shares rose 2.63% in Wednesday morning trading.
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The Vision Fund has invested in Chinese technology companies and was therefore hit by Beijing’s crackdown on the country’s technology sector and the subsequent fall in share prices. SoftBank’s portfolio companies include ByteDance, DiDi grocery store, coupon and more.
SoftBank is preparing for the IPO of Arm, the UK-based chip design company it acquired in 2016. Arm has filed for listing with US SoftBank’s CFO Yoshimitsu Goto said the IPO process is “going smoothly”.
Artificial intelligence has experienced explosive growth in recent months, fueled by the virality of chatbot ChatGPT. ChatGPT has amazed researchers and the general public with its ability to generate human responses to users’ prompts.
Son said on Tuesday that he is “a heavy user of ChatGPT” and that ChatGPT is “great”.