The Softbank Empire

Masayoshi Son has built his software distribution business into a $2.6 billion, global high-tech powerhouse


With its $2.1 billion acquisition of Ziff-Davis Publishing, Softbank became the world's biggest computer publisher. Ziff, with annual revenues of $850 million, has 80 print titles, including PC Magazine, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and Mac Week. Ziff also publishes more than 200 ``how-to'' manuals annually. Son's plan is to expand to 1,000 print titles by 2005.


Softbank is now the biggest computer trade show organizer in the world, with a 75% lock on the lucrative U.S. market. Through the 1995 acquisition of the Interface Group, Son took over Comdex, the industry's biggest venue.


Softbank has spent $200 million snapping up stakes in some 30 Internet startups including Yahoo! CyberCash Inc., and Softbank Interactive is also a big player in Web advertising with 40% of the U.S. market.


Softbank owns 20.4% of Novell Japan Ltd., the booming subsidiary of the top network software supplier. An alliance with Cisco Systems is aimed at promoting a Japanese standard for network equipment.


Softbank, a wholesale distributor, controls more than 40% of Japan's software market. Softbank distributes 30% of Microsoft's programs in Japan and has teamed up with the software giant to develop PC game software.


A joint venture with Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, plans to distribute digital movies and software to Japanese homes via phone line. And, together with Rupert Murdoch, Son bought 21.4% of TV network Asahi National Broadcasting, with an eye toward launching a satellite-TV service in Japan. In the U.S., a Ziff unit is creating The Site, a daily computer show for the MSNBC cable network.


Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.
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