The chairman of Softbank has been called many things – a lunatic, a genius, a predator, a wolf in sheep’s clothing – but at the core, he’s a true believer, a visionary in the purest sense.
The news this week is that Softbank taking a substantial stake in Uber, but what Son is doing with his investment fund, the so-called ‘Vision Fund,’ is far more interesting.
The fund, backed by tier 1 businesses and some of the worlds most powerful investors is the largest tech investment fund to have ever existed at US$100 billion. That description doesn’t even do it justice, with nothing coming close to challenging the Vision Fund for supremacy.
But why do so many institutional investors and knowledgeable experts buy into Son’s ideas? We were all a little confused until Katie Benner of the New York Times wrote a piece that will likely go down in history…should Son’s gamble pay off.
Benner discovered that as the Vision Fund began a massive process of investment, the types of businesses were far more specific than they first appeared to be. Undoubtedly, artificial intelligence and entities related to that were predominant, but it went much deeper than that. Son is a believer in the “singularity theory.” This is the once ridiculed and now only sometimes ridiculed theory that artificial intelligence will one day be smarter than humans and just as autonomous. The fund is investing in technology that will assist in the evolution of artificial intelligence, but also in the management of data, the improvement of safety protocols and ways to power the undoubtedly exponential increase in requirement that will be experienced once the point of singularity comes into view.
All of this may sound like science-fiction nonsense, but the fact that so many high-profile businesses are involved in the fund at such a substantial level must surely raise some questions as to what Son’s vision for the future looks like, and the pathway he sees us taking to get there. After all, if it’s compelling enough for the smartest people in the world, then the rest of us should be paying close attention.