SoftBank Group Corp. (ソフトバンクグループ株式会社,
Sofutobanku Gurūpu Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese multinational
conglomerate holding company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The
company wholly owns
Softbank Vision Fund, Arm
Investment Group, Boston Dynamics, and also owns
stakes in Sprint (ca.85%), Alibaba (29.5%), Yahoo
Japan (42%), Bright
Didi Chuxing (ca.20%), Ola (ca.30%), Grab
InMobi (45%), Hike (25.8%), Snapdeal
(ca.30%), Brain, Fanatics (ca.22%),
Flipkart (ca.20%), Guardant
Health, Improbable Worlds (ca.50%), Mapbox, Nauto,
One97 Communications (ca.20%), Oravel Stays (42%), OSIsoft, PingAn
Heath Cloud (7.41%), Plenty United, Roviant Sciences, Slack
Technologies (ca.5%), Vir Biotechnology,
WeWork (ca.22%), Zhongan
Online P&C Insurance (5%), Compass (ca.22%), Auto1 (ca.20%), Wag
Katerra (ca.28%), Packet.
The company is known for its vision and leadership by founder
Masayoshi Son. It now owns operations in broadband; fixed-line
telecommunications; e-commerce; internet; technology services;
finance; media and marketing; semiconductor design; and other
SoftBank was ranked in the
Forbes Global 2000 list as the 38th largest
public company in the world, and the 4th largest public company in
Japan after Toyota, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, NTT.
1.1 Founding and early years
2 Business units
5 Baby bonus
6 See also
9 External links
Founding and early years
COMDEX from The Interface Group on April 1,1995 for
$800 million, and ZDI on February 29, 1996.
SoftBank sold COMDEX
to Key3Media, a spin-off of Ziff Davis, in 2001.
SoftBank made its most successful investment ever –
$20 million to a then fledgling Chinese
Internet venture Alibaba.
This investment turned into $60 billion when Alibaba went public in
SoftBank store in Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan
On January 28, 2005,
SoftBank became the owner of the Fukuoka SoftBank
Nippon Professional Baseball
Nippon Professional Baseball team. On March 17, 2006,
SoftBank announced its agreement to buy
Vodafone Japan, giving it a
stake in Japan's $78 billion mobile market. In April 2006, they bought
a 23% stake of Betfair, an
Internet betting exchange. In August 2006,
SoftBank sold all its shares of
SBI Group to a subsidiary of SBI's
holding company, making SBI independent. On October 1, 2006, Vodafone
Japan changed its corporate name, mobile phone brand name, and its
mobile phone domain name to
SoftBank Mobile, SoftBank, and
On January 28, 2008, it was announced that
SoftBank and Tiffany &
Co. collaborated in making a limited 10 model-only cellphone. This
cellphone contains more than 400 platinum diamonds, totaling more than
20 carats. The cost is said to be more than 100,000,000 yen.
On February 3, 2010,
SoftBank acquired 13.7% in
Ustream with the
option to increase shares to 30% by July 2011. On October 1, 2010,
Ayumi Hamasaki became the commercial spokesperson.
On October 3, 2012, the take over of competitor eAccess was announced,
and was completed in January 2013. On July 1, 2013, SoftBank
Willcom became a wholly owned subsidiary effective July
1, 2013, after termination of rehabilitation proceedings. eAccess was
merged with Willcom, which resulted in a new subsidiary and brand from
Merchandise drinking mug featuring "Otosan", the
On October 15, 2012,
SoftBank announced plans to take control of
American Sprint Nextel by purchasing a 70% stake for $20 billion.
On July 6, 2013, the
United States Federal Communications Commission
approved SoftBank’s acquisition of the
Sprint Corporation for $22.2
billion for a 78% ownership interest in Sprint. The acquisition
involved payment of $17.2 billion in cash to Sprint shareholders, with
the balance $5 billion as capital contribution. The transaction was
financed by way of cash and a bridge loan from a consortium of
banks. On August 6, 2013,
SoftBank bought 2% more shares of Sprint
Corporation, increasing its ownership stake in the company to 80%.
SoftBank store in Sendai, with decorations for the Tanabata
In October 2013,
SoftBank acquired 51% stake in Supercell for a
reported $2.1 billion. Later on October 25, 2014, they invested $210
million in OlaCabs, $627 million in
Snapdeal with 30% stake in the
company on October 28, 2014, and a $100 million investment in
Housing.com with 30% stake in the company in November 2014.
SoftBank co-designed Pepper, a humanoid robot, with Aldebaran
SoftBank acquired DramaFever. In May 2015, Masayoshi Son
said he would appoint Nikesh Arora, a former
Google executive, as
Representative Director and President of SoftBank. Arora has been
heading SoftBank's investment arm. On June 1, 2015, SoftBank
acquired additional 22.7% stake in Supercell, increasing its total
stake to 73.2% and becoming the sole external shareholder of the
company. In June 2015,
SoftBank announced it would
invest US$1 billion in the Korean e-commerce website Coupang as part
of its overseas expansion plans.
In July 2015,
SoftBank announced the renaming of the company from
SoftBank Corp. to
SoftBank Group Corp. Meanwhile,
SoftBank Mobile was
SoftBank Corp., the now former name of the company as a
whole. On February 16, 2016,
SoftBank announced they would
repurchase a record 14.2% of shares, valued at $4.4bn, in order to
boost investor confidence. On March 31, 2016, they announced they
would sell shares worth $7.9 billion of their stake in Alibaba Group.
On June 21, 2016,
SoftBank sold its 84% stake in Supercell for
reported US$7.3 billion to Tencent. On June 3, 2016, Softbank
agreed to sell most of its stake in GungHo Online Entertainment
(approximately 23.47%) for about $685 million, which would thus end
Softbank's majority ownership of the company, resulting in Gungho no
longer being an associate of Softbank. The offer was
accepted by Gungho and completed by June 22, thus allowing Gungho to
become an independent company.
In June 2016,
Nikesh Arora stepped down as president of SoftBank
amidst pressure from investors. Board member Ron Fisher and Baer
Capital Partners founder Alok Sama stepped in to manage Arora's
overseas investment duties. Just a month later, Son announced
the company's largest deal ever to buy British chip designer ARM
Holdings for more than US$32 billion. This acquisition was
completed on September 5, 2016.
On December 6, 2016, after meeting with US President-elect Donald
Trump, chief executive
Masayoshi Son announced
SoftBank will be
investing US$50 billion in the
United States toward businesses
creating 50,000 new US jobs.
On January 30, 2017, the
Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal wrote that
was "weighing an investment of well over $1 billion in shared-office
WeWork Cos., in what could be among the first deals from
its new $100 billion technology fund." On March 20th SoftBank
bought a $300m stake in WeWork. On February 14, 2017, SoftBank
Group agreed to buy Fortress
Investment Group LLC for $3.3
billion. In February 2017, it was announced that Social Finance
Inc. was close to raising $500 million from an investor group led by
Silver Lake, and also including Softbank. On March 28, 2017, the
Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal reported that
SoftBank Group Corporation had
Didi Chuxing Technology Co. about investing $6 billion to
help the ride-hailing firm expand in self-driving car technologies,"
with the bulk of the money to come from SoftBank's planned $100
billion Vision Fund.
On May 18, 2017, it was reported that
Softbank had completed its
single largest investment in
India to date, investing $1.4 billion in
Paytm. At the time,
Softbank was also working on a takeover of
Flipkart's Snapdeal. On August 10, 2017,
Softbank invested $2.5
billion into Flipkart.
On 8 June 2017, Alphabet Inc. announced the sale of
Boston Dynamics to
SoftBank Group for an undisclosed sum.
On November 14, 2017,
Softbank finally agreed to invest $10 billion
into Uber. On December 29, 2017, it was reported that SoftBank-led
consortium of investors had secured a $9 billion investment into Uber.
The deal, to close in January 2018, will leave
SoftBank as Uber's
biggest shareholder, with a 15 percent stake. The deal was secured
Uber shareholders voted to "sell their shares to the Japanese
conglomerate at a discounted price." Beyond SoftBank, consortium
members included Dragoneer, Tencent, TPG and Sequoia.
On 14 January 2018, Softbank's Vision Fund announced to invest $560
million in the German used-car sales portal Auto1.
On 1, March 2018, Softbank's Vision Fund lead a $535 million
investment in DoorDash. 
SoftBank's corporate profile includes various other companies such as
Japanese broadband company
SoftBank BB, data center company IDC
Frontier, gaming company GungHo Online Entertainment, and the
publishing company SB Creative.
SBI Group is a Japanese financial
services company that began in 1999, as a branch of SoftBank.
Ymobile Corporation is another telecommunications subsidiary of
SoftBank, established in 2014. In 2010,
SoftBank founded Wireless City
Planning (WCP), a subsidiary that will see the development of TD-LTE
networks throughout Japan.
SoftBank also operate
a US-based venture capital company. The
COMDEX expo in the US was
SoftBank from 1995 to 2001. Since 2005,
SoftBank also owns
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks professional baseball team.
operates in the eco-power industry through its SB Energy subsidiary.
Additionally, it has various partnerships in Japanese subsidiaries of
foreign companies such as
Yahoo! (which has resulted in
EF Education First
EF Education First and Morningstar. It also has
Alibaba Group and Sprint Corporation.
SoftBank Corp. (ソフトバンク株式会社, Sofutobanku
Kabushikigaisha) is SoftBank's telecommunications subsidiary,
providing both mobile and fixed-line services. It was previously
SoftBank Mobile until July 2015, with the Group's merger of
SoftBank BB Corp.,
SoftBank Telecom Corp. and
Ymobile Corporation to
reflect its new status of providing fixed-line and ISP operations.
J-PHONE store in
Nagoya in 2003
The company was founded in 1981, as the mobile phone division of Japan
Telecom under the name Digital Phone (デジタルホン). J-PHONE
Co., Ltd. (J-フォン) was formed in 1999, by the merging of Digital
Phone Group (DPG, three local companies) and Digital TU-KA Group (DTG,
six local companies, not to be confused with TU-KA).
owned a stake of 45.1%.
J-PHONE grew steadily for a decade by continuously introducing new
services and enhancements such as SkyWalker for PDC, SkyMelody
ringtone download, the famous
Sha-Mail picture mail introduced on the
basis of camera phones developed by SHARP, the mobile multimedia data
J-Sky modeled after NTT DoCoMo's i-mode, and advanced Java
services based on JSCL, modeled after NTT DoCoMo's
DoJa based i-appli.
In October 2001, the British mobile phone group
Vodafone increased its
share to 66.7% of
Japan Telecom and 69.7% of J-Phone. On October 1,
2003, the name of the company and the service brand was officially
changed to Vodafone, with the division called
Vodafone K.K. or
Vodafone Japan. The growth and success of the company during this
period is due in large part to then president Bill Morrow.
However, in January 2005,
Japan lost 58,700 customers and in
February 2005 lost 53,200 customers, while competitors NTT DoCoMo
gained 184,400 customers, au by
KDDI gained 163,700, and Willcom
gained 35,000. While as of February 2005, DoCoMo's
FOMA 3G service had
attracted 10 million subscribers and KDDI's 3G service had attracted
over 17 million subscribers, Vodafone's 3G service only attracted
Vodafone 3G failed to attract subscribers because
Vodafone cut back investments in 3G services in
Japan in 2002/3;
handsets did not fully match needs and preferences of Japanese
customers. At the end of February 2005,
Japan had 15.1
million customers, and by end of October 2005, the number of
subscribers had fallen by 103,100 to 14.996 million, while during the
NTT DoCoMo had gained 1.65 million customers and KDDI/AU
had gained 1.82 million customers. At the end of October 2005, NTT
DoCoMo had 17.6 million 3G customers, KDDI/AU had 19.8 million 3G
customers, and Vodafone-
Japan had 1.9 million 3G customers, i.e.
Japan gained about 4.8% of Japan's 3G market.
Vodafone changed the name of its multimedia data services from J-Sky
Vodafone live!, and used J-Sky's principles and technologies and
business models to introduce the WAP-based
Vodafone live! in
Vodafone's other markets. Thus
Vodafone live! has its origin in
J-Phone's J-Sky. At the end of February 2005,
Vodafone live! had
12.907 million subscribers in Japan. By end of October 2005 the number
Vodafone live! subscribers had fallen by 138,000 to 12,769,600.
In March 2006,
Vodafone began discussing the sale of the Vodafone
Japan unit to SoftBank.
Vodafone was unable to satisfy customers, as
Japanese users tend to have preferences not seen in other markets.
Handsets had user interfaces that differed too much from the Japanese
interface, and did not have as many features as competing companies.
This led to the loss of more customers and Vodafone's decision that
the market was no longer profitable.
Television broadcast on a 2007 Sharp phone on SoftBank
SoftBank Wi-Fi display with the company's mascot, indicating a place
where Wi-Fi can be used
On March 17, 2006,
Vodafone Group announced it had agreed to sell its
Vodafone K.K.) to
SoftBank for about 1.75
Japanese yen (approximately US$15.1 billion). On April 14,
Vodafone K. K. jointly announced, that the name of
the company will be changed to a "new, easy-to-understand and
familiar" company name and brand. It was announced in a press
conference on May 18, 2006, that the new name would be "SoftBank
Mobile Corp.", effective October 1, 2006.
SoftBank started the
rebranding around June 14, 2006.
On June 4, 2008,
SoftBank Mobile announced partnership with Apple and
brought the iPhone (3G) to
Japan later in 2008.
was the only official carrier of the iPhone in
Japan until the release
of iPhone 4S in 2011 when it became available on au by
SoftBank Corp.'s mobile network operates
UMTS 3G) network
SoftBank 3G"). SoftBank's 3G network is compatible with
supports transparent global roaming for existing
UMTS subscribers from
SoftBank 4G uses
TD-LTE / LTE.
SoftBank offers 4G
speeds of more than 110 Mbit/s.
SoftBank Wi-Fi Spots are
available almost everywhere in Japan.
Vodafone store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo
SoftBank mobile cell tower in Nakatsugawa, Gifu
1984-10: JAPAN TELECOM was founded.
1986-08: JAPAN TELECOM launches leased circuit services.
1986-12: RAILWAY TELECOMMUNICATION established.
1989-05: RAILWAY TELECOMMUNICATION merges with JAPAN TELECOM.
Tokyo Digital Phone established.
1994-04: J-Phone starts PDC cellular service in the 1.5
1997-11: J-Phone launches SkyWalker SMS service designed by Aldiscon
and Ericsson for PDC
1998-11: J-Phone launches SkyMelody ringtone download service
1999-12: J-Phone launches
Internet service ten months
after NTT DoCoMo's i-mode, which was launched in February 1999.
2000-11: J-Phone launches
Sha-Mail (写メール) picture messaging
service using the world's first camera phones developed by SHARP
2001-06: J-Phone launches Java service with
2002-12: J-Phone launches
W-CDMA 3G service for the first time
2002-08: Company name was changed to JAPAN TELECOM HOLDINGS.The
fixed-line telecommunications business was also separated to found a
new JAPAN TELECOM.
2003-10: J-Phone company name is changed to
Vodafone K.K., and J-Sky
name is changed to
Vodafone launches a
Japan-nationwide Beckham campaign
2003-12: Company name was changed to
Vodafone Holdings K.K.
Vodafone K.K. merges with
Vodafone Holdings K.K. and company
name is changed to
Vodafone relaunches the 3G services in
Japan a second time
offering mobile phone handsets designed primarily for the European
Vodafone changes management and relaunches 3G services in
Japan a third time
Vodafone officially announced it had agreed to sell
Vodafone KK) to
SoftBank for a total of 1.75 trillion
Japanese yen (approx US$15.1 billion) in one of the largest M&A
Japan to date
Vodafone K. K. jointly announced, that the
name of the company will be changed to a "new, easy-to-understand and
familiar" company name and brand.
Masayoshi Son became CEO and
Representative Director of
Vodafone K. K.
2006-05-01: Headquarters moved from Atago Hills to Shiodome to
integrate operations with other
SoftBank group companies.
SoftBank announced that the name of the company will be
changed to "
SoftBank Mobile Corp." effective October 1, 2006
SoftBank started rebranding "Vodafone" to "SoftBank."
Japan company name is changed to "
SoftBank Mobile releases iPhone in
Japan beating NTT
SoftBank Mobile joins Open Handset Alliance.
SoftBank Mobile joins
TransferJet Consortium .
Softbank purchased 100% of the PHS mobile operator Willcom.
SoftBank Mobile unveils the Pantone 5 107SH, a mobile
phone with a built-in geiger counter.
SoftBank 821SH PG
SoftBank 001P by Lumix
SoftBank A202F by ARROWS
SoftBank 930CA by EXLIM
Vodafone 803T by Toshiba
J-PHONE J-SH07 by Sharp (2001)
An evolution of J-PHONE and
Vodafone cell phones, 1997–2004
SoftBank USIM card
View of Taitō, Tokyo, with a large
Vodafone sign in the background
Mobile Blazer (2008)
Since May 2006, SoftBank's marketing and commercials have principally
revolved around "Otosan sujan karki", the canine patriarch of the
otherwise human "Shirason, "Kaito" family. "Otosan" translates to
father, and the character, a Hokkaido dog, indeed acts as the father
of the family, along with the son "Kojiro" (starred by Dante Carver),
mom "Masako" (Kanako Higuchi), and daughter "Aya" (Aya Ueto). The
advertising series proved to be highly popular: CM Research Center
ranked the Otousan adverts as the most popular in
Japan between 2007
and 2012, based on monthly surveys of 3,000 randomly selected adults
SoftBank also has a partnership with the Ingress augmented reality
game, supporting the branded "
SoftBank Ultra Link" in-game item.
Softbank was sold a "team" for the America's Cup. The team was named
SoftBank Team Japan, and
Yanmar came onboard.
SoftBank Team Japan
raced in the 2017 races held in Bermuda. The team-members come from
various backgrounds, most of whom are not Japanese.
The company was the official jersey sponsor of the Japanese national
basketball team at the official
2017 Asian Basketball Championship
2017 Asian Basketball Championship in
SoftBank, along with some other companies in Japan, offer a baby
bonus for employees who have children. The payments range from US$400
for a first child to US$40,000 for a fifth child.
List of mobile network operators of the Asia Pacific region
List of telephone operating companies
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Lee de Forest
Erna Schneider Hoover
Charles K. Kao
Alexander Stepanovich Popov
Johann Philipp Reis
Vladimir K. Zworykin
Free-space optical communication
Network switching (circuit
Public Switched Telephone
World Wide Web
Japanese mobile phone companies
Major network operators
au by KDDI
Minor and regional network operators
Okinawa Cellular Telephone
Mobile virtual network operators
Internet Initiative Japan