THE unpredictable ways of “Masa” Son, the founder of SoftBank, a Japanese telecoms and technology firm, are well known in Japan. Even so, the news that he would immediately part company with Nikesh Arora, a former Google executive he named just over a year ago as his successor, was a shock. “He and I love each other,” gushed Mr Arora in one of a hail of explanatory tweets afterwards. Circumstance would suggest otherwise.

SoftBank’s official reason for Mr Arora’s resignation is that Mr Son decided he wanted to carry on as chief executive for another five years or more. Mr Arora wanted to take over sooner. But his brief record at the company must have had something to do with his departure.

Mr Son believed his protégé’s connections in Silicon Valley could land him the right tech deals. Mr Arora’s investment spree include a $1 billion punt on Coupang, a loss-making South Korean unicorn. Hundreds of millions also went into an array of cash-bleeding ride-hailing firms in Asia, including India’s Ola. But the mood has shifted. Now SoftBank’s activities are widely viewed as symptoms of the frothiness and mania that have...Continue reading