本文摘要:Masayoshi Son, the billionaire founder of the telecommunications group SoftBank and perhaps Japan’s most successful example of an American-style entrepreneur, has made a career out of beating the odds. He casts himself in the mould of his


Masayoshi Son, the billionaire founder of the telecommunications group SoftBank and perhaps Japan’s most successful example of an American-style entrepreneur, has made a career out of beating the odds. He casts himself in the mould of his hero, Soichiro Honda, an outsider who began making motors for bicycles and ended up building one of the world’s leading car manufacturers. Mr Son loves to recall how Honda defied Japan’s state planners, who wanted to restrict carmakers to a few national champions such as Toyota. Honda had to take on the establishment as well as his competitors.身兼亿万富翁,电信集团软银(Softbank)的创始人孙正义(Masayoshi Son)是经过艰苦奋斗成就一番事业的,他也许也是全日本最顺利的“美式企业家”。孙正义崇拜本田宗一郎(Soichiro Honda),视他为榜样。本田宗一郎从生产自行车的马达起家,最后打造出起了一家全球领先的汽车制造商。孙正义讨厌总结本田宗一郎是如何对付日本的国家规划者的。

政府当局原本只想让丰田(Toyota)等少数几家全国性龙头汽车企业获得发展,本田宗一郎被迫同时应付当局和竞争对手。Like Honda, Mr Son is a disrupter. He once playfully threatened to torch regulators’ headquarters if he did not have his way. He did (have his way, that is, not set the communications ministry ablaze). After acquiring Vodafone’s Japanese arm in 2006, he threw Japan’s staid telecoms monopoly into turmoil – much to the benefit of consumers.与本田宗一郎一样,孙正义是一个“搅局者”。他曾多次打趣说道,如果他约将近目的,就纵火烧毁监管机构的总部大楼。


SoftBank started a price war. It also introduced new services and products, including Apple’s iPhone, which years before anyone else Mr Son realised would upend Japan’s sophisticated but isolated market.软银发动了价格战,并引进了新的服务和产品,还包括苹果公司(Apple)的iPhone。孙正义比所有人提早许多年意识到,iPhone将政治宣传日本更为高端但堵塞的电信市场。As an investor too, Mr Son has had moments of inspiration. Among the duds for which he has paid outlandish sums are some veritable gems. Most dazzling was his $20m punt 14 years ago on Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce giant that was then just a twinkle in Jack Ma’s eye. SoftBank today finds itself with a 37 per cent stake in a company whose initial public offering later this year could value it at $130bn or more.孙正义还是一位投资家,偶尔不会迸发启发。

在他那些出有资金额听得一起离谱的投资中,有一些是确实的宝石。最令人叫绝的是14年前他拿走2000万美元投资阿里巴巴(Alibaba)的事例,当时马云还只有可行性点子,如今阿里巴巴已发展成中国电商巨头。现在软银持有人阿里巴巴37%的股权,而后者今年晚些时候上市后,市值有可能超过1300亿美元以上。Now Mr Son is at it again, entangled in perhaps the biggest gamble of his life. He is taking on America. Last year SoftBank paid $22bn for a majority stake in Sprint, the third-largest US mobile provider. The aim is to “do a Vodafone” by using an also-ran carrier as a vehicle to disrupt an entire sector. This month, though, those plans ran into trouble. In the face of intractable opposition from US regulators, SoftBank withdrew its plan to combine with T-Mobile, the fourth-biggest carrier, a merger that was central to its strategy.现在孙正义再度使出,而且这也许将是他毕生中仅次于的赌。



Mr Son is not giving up. He has appointed a new Sprint chief executive, Marcelo Claure to try to reverse the haemorrhaging of Sprint customers, hundreds of thousands of whom have defected in the past year.孙正义没退出。他任命马塞洛克劳尔(Marcelo Claure)为Sprint新的首席执行官,以期挽回该公司用户大量萎缩的局面——在过去一年里萎缩了几十万用户。

This week the contours of a new strategy began to emerge. Together with the Japanese company Sharp, SoftBank has developed a near-frameless cheap smartphone. Sprint will offer the Aquos Crystal handset with 100 free pre-installed apps, along with contracts allowing unlimited downloads. To underline Mr Son’s global ambitions, in July SoftBank poached Nikesh Arora, Google’s head of business operations, as group vice-chairman and chief executive of a US-based unit aimed at executing his disruptive strategy.一项新战略在上周开始显形。软银和日本夏普公司(Sharp)合力,研发出有了一款几近无边框的低端智能手机。


Sprint将为Aquos Crystal获取100款笔记本电脑的免费应用于,以及容许无限量iTunes的合约。今年7月,软银凿来谷歌(Google)负责管理商业运营的尼克什阿罗纳(Nikesh Arora),请求其兼任集团副总裁兼美国某子公司的首席执行官,目的继续执行其政治宣传战略——孙正义的全球志向借此可见一斑。

There is a lot riding on Mr Son’s US adventure, and not only for SoftBank. Japanese manufacturers have a strong, if fading, record of challenging competitors on their own turf. Non-manufacturers have not fared so well. Nomura’s bold attempt to turn itself into a global investment bank failed. Efforts by pharma groups to expand abroad, including Daiichi Sankyo’s disastrous $4.7bn acquisition of Ranbaxy, an Indian generics maker, have not inspired confidence. Mr Son could do wonders by pulling off a victory.孙正义进占美国市场的胜败至关重要,这某种程度是对软银而言。日本生产企业在挑战竞争对手方面战绩斐然(现在有可能略为逊色)。非制造业企业则展现出不是那么好。野村证券(Nomura)改变为全球投行的大胆计划告终了。

日本制药集团海外扩展的希望——还包括第一三共株式会社(Daiichi Sankyo)以47亿美元灾难性地并购印度仿造药生产商Ranbaxy——也没带来人激励。如果孙正义在美国市场取得成功,他将建构一个奇迹。On the face of it, his US challenge looks similar to the one SoftBank undertook in Japan. Sprint is a David taking on two Goliaths, or Verizon and ATT as they are known in the US. Both have roughly twice the number of Sprint’s subscribers. Like Japan-before-SoftBank, US mobile prices are high and speeds relatively slow. At a recent technology conference, Mr Son joked that foreigners’ experience of US internet services led them to wonder: “Oh my God, how can Americans live like this?”表面显然,孙正义在美国遇上的挑战,与软银在日本经历过的挑战极为相近。



与软银经常出现之前的日本一样,美国移动通信不只资费高昂,而且速度比较较慢。在最近的一次科技会议上,孙正义打趣地说,外国人在体验过美国的互联网服务之后不会说道:“天啊,美国人怎么会过这样的生活?”In truth, though, the US will be a much tougher nut to crack. Not only are Verizon and ATT dominant, they have access to more spectrum than Sprint is ever likely to grasp. In Japan SoftBank was able to outflank competitors by simultaneously building an acceptable network and offering cheaper tariffs. In the US, although Sprint is making valiant efforts to upgrade its patchy network, it will be hard to catch the two market leaders. They have better coverage and ample cash flow with which to fund investment. If anything, T-Mobile, which has been gaining subscribers faster than Sprint has been losing them, looks like the successful upstart. “Sprint has a mountain to climb,” says Benedict Evans, a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.然而,进占美国市场实质上要艰难得多。Verizon和ATT不仅在市场上占有主导地位,而且它们可以利用的频谱近甚广于Sprint。

在日本,软银需要通过铺设让用户失望的网络和获取更加低廉的资费来围歼竞争对手。而在美国,尽管Sprint在竭尽全力对自身不完备的网络展开升级,但要跟上那两个市场领军者还是十分艰难的,后者的网络覆盖范围更加甚广,而且有充裕的现金流可以展开投资。如果说有什么区别的话,T-Mobile看上去是顺利的富二代,它夺得用户的速度多达Sprint萎缩用户的速度。风险投资公司Andreessen Horowitz的合伙人班尼迪克埃文斯(Benedict Evans)回应:“Sprint面对着不利的挑战。

”Mr Son has taken knocks before. In the dotcom crash of the late 1990s, SoftBank’s shares lost most of their value and Mr Son is said to have suffered a paper loss of $70bn. That would have bankrupted most billionaires many times over, but not Mr Son. Time and again he has come back from the dead. “Nothing stops him,” says one telecoms analyst. “There’s no such thing as impossible for this guy.”孙正义以前接受挫折。上世纪90年代末,在互联网泡沫幻灭期间,软银的绝大部分市值都蒸发掉了,据传孙正义个人的账面损失超过700亿美元。大多数亿万富翁要是损失这么大,都不够倒闭好几次了,但孙正义没。

他一次又一次地东山再起。一位电信业的分析师回应:“任何事都阻止不了他,对他来说,没什么是不有可能的。”Nevertheless, even Mr Son concedes that, without T-Mobile, Sprint cannot muster the firepower to take on the industry leaders over the long haul. Before the deal was scuppered by regulators, he said that, without T-Mobile, Sprint lacked the scale for anything but a “pseudo fight”. Certainly, he has every chance of improving Sprint’s poor performance through innovation and network improvement. But to really shake the US market as he shook the Japanese one will take a change of heart from regulators. And they may be flame-proof.然而孙正义自己也否认,如果没T-Mobile,Sprint无法长年集中于火力挑战行业中的领军者。