“It made a lot of people worry,” Son said Thursday, referring to how badly the Japanese conglomerate was hammered during the last fiscal year. SoftBank reported an annual operating loss of 1.36 trillion yen ($12.7 billion) — its worst ever — because of a series of tech bets gone bad and the coronavirus pandemic.
Son’s tone Thursday during an online meeting of SoftBank shareholders was more upbeat than last month when he reported the company’s record-breaking losses. He added that people thought the company was “Softpunku,” using wordplay in Japanese that can translate roughly to “SoftBankrupt” in English.
Son said Thursday that things are looking up: The value of SoftBank’s holdings rose to 30 trillion yen ($280 billion) this week, about 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) higher than at the end of March.
“I pushed though and that is my responsibility. I should take a paycut,” Son said. “Judgment for my other executives should be made comprehensively.” Son earned 209 million yen ($1.9 million) for the last fiscal year, a 9% pay cut compared to the previous year. He said he would take a 50% pay cut this year to 100 million yen.
“We will remain as a long-term investor in Alibaba,” Son said.
The Chinese e-commerce company is the crown jewel of SoftBank’s investment portfolio, and Son’s ascent with Ma has been legendary. Son invested $20 million in Alibaba 20 years ago, turning that bet into one that was worth $60 billion when Alibaba went public in 2014. Son has referred to Ma as a “friend and comrade,” and said last month that the two had dinner every month before the coronavirus pandemic to talk about life and business.