To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Billionaire once wealthier than Bill Gates explains what it was like losing $70 billion

Billionaire once wealthier than Bill Gates explains what it was like losing $70 billion

The businessman lost the money in a matter of days.

It’s more money than most of us can ever even comprehend – $70 billion could buy you a few private islands, a super yacht (or two), expensive art and probably a lot more.

So imagine having that cash and then casually losing it all in the space of a few days.

That’s exactly what happened to Japanese billionaire businessman Masayoshi Son, who is the founder and chief executive of telecommunications and investment giant SoftBank Group.

Masayoshi Son has lost more money than we could ever imagine.
Tomohiro Ohsumi / Contributor/Getty Images

Rewind the clock back to the turn of the 21st century, and at one point, his net worth was reported to be rising at '$10 billion per week', meaning he was richer than Microsoft founder Bill Gates for a brief period.

And we aren’t exaggerating when we say brief.

Just as he and his net worth were climbing the corporate cash ladder, the dot-com bubble popped, sending his company’s share values plummeting.

In the late 90s, the dot-come bubble was when people were betting big on online businesses - then it burst, after a large number of companies failed to ever become profitable and burnt up all their investors' cash.

It saw people heavily investing in internet start-ups, amongst other things, but collapsed in 2000 leading to a number of tech companies having to declare bankruptcy.

For Masayoshi Son, it meant his personal net worth dropped by $70 billion, a figure cited as reportedly the greatest financial loss a single individual has experienced financially at that time period.

For context, The Guardian reported early in 2023 that Tesla boss and billionaire Elon Musk was rumoured to have lost $182bn (around £150bn) since November 2021.

A Guinness World Records report said it meant he breaks the record for the largest loss of personal fortune in history, the publication said.

At one point, he was richer than Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Chip Somodevilla/Staff/Getty Images

But back to Masayoshi Son, who admitted the loss in the dot-com bubble meant he could only claim to be as rich as Bill Gates for a mere three days!

Speaking on The David Rubenstein Show in his Peer-to-Peer Conversations series in 2017, the businessman said: “My personal net worth was increasing by $10 billion by per week."

"Then I became richer than Bill Gates. Before I talked to anyone else, our stock started crashing. So six months after that our share price went down 99%."

But don’t worry – he’s still a billionaire today so he managed to survive that challenging financial period.

“We almost went bankrupt and somehow I survived,” he told David Rubenstein.

He went on to invest in companies like Vodafone, who were less of a risk and said: “That time I said 'now is the time to go to the next stage', which is the internet will become mobile internet.

"So, I had to go get the license of the government for the Spectrum or acquire Vodafone Japan."

The only hitch was that he needed $20 billion to buy Vodafone Japan, but only had $2 billion in his bank account.

Asked how he raised the capital he needed, he told Rubenstein: "I convinced the bank that I can turn around Vodafone Japan and it will become successful with great cash flow.

"They believed me and lent me money."

SpaceX founder Elon Musk (Chesnot/Contributor/Getty Images)
SpaceX founder Elon Musk (Chesnot/Contributor/Getty Images)

In the years since the dot-com disaster, he has made big acquisitions in the form of London based company ARM, which designs computer chips for tablets and smartphones, for some $32 billion in 2016.

He came under fire after SoftBank’s Vision Fund investment arm had to recently make job cuts after profit losses.

He was quoted as saying: “I am ashamed of myself for being so elated by big profits in the past."

According to Forbes, his real time net worth in 2023 is estimated at around $22.1 billion and he currently sits in 79th position on their ‘real-time billionaire list’.

The Forbes list has Elon Musk in first place with a net worth estimated at $245.3 billion.

Featured Image Credit: Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Contributor) (NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty