Why Softbank’s winning streak will be shortlived

TOKYO – Maybe Masayoshi Son can walk on water after all. In a May conference call with investors, the SoftBank billionaire made the kind of God-complex headlines CEO’s tend to avoid.

By comparing himself to Jesus Christ – another visionary who he claimed was misunderstood – Son became the target of social media scorn and ridicule. Bears piled on, selling SoftBank’s shares with unholy ferocity for months.

Yet Son is having the last – or at least the latest – laugh as SoftBank’s stock prices have shot back toward the heavens. SoftBank has surged 130% since a March low brought on by WeWork and other big bets going sideways, with a touch of coronavirus panic tossed in.

Many of Son’s biggest plays in recent years have been on the sharing economy – including Uber and Grab – that are now being ravaged by the pandemic.

But as SoftBank walks on water with investors again, it’s wise to recall the depths of potential trouble below the surface.