Founder of Internet and telecom firm SoftBank celebrated 30 year anniversary of the company. Owns one of Japan's three biggest wireless carriers, via 2006 acquisition of Vodafone Japan, and the only one with rights to sell the iPhone. Smartphone business booming; stock up 34% over the past year. Company also owns large stakes in Yahoo Japan, Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba.com as well as a 40% of China's largest social-networking service Renren, which is planning to IPO this year. Focused on succession plan: started a school,"Softbank Academia," to groom 300 executives from inside and outside the company; plans to hand over reigns in his 60s. Stated goal: Create Masayoshi Son 2.0.
Son, 55, the Softbank founder, is an ambitious entrepreneur who came of age and made a fortune during the heady Web valuations of the late 1990s. By the time the bubble burst in February 2000, Son was worth nearly $69 billion, a sum behind only men like Bill Gates. After his assets dwindled to only a hair more than $1 billion, by 2003, Son rallied his tech empire—investments scattered equally across startups and tech giants. FORBES estimated his wealth at $7.2 billion last March.