Source | www.bloomberg.com : By Peter Elstrom
Early last year, Cheng Wei, founder and chief executive of the Chinese ride-hailing juggernaut Didi Chuxing, tried to resist taking money from legendary investor Masayoshi Son. Cheng told the SoftBank Group chief he didn’t need the cash because his company had already raised $10 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. Fine, Son said, then suggested he might direct his support to one of Didi’s rivals. Cheng relented and took the investment: $5 billion in the largest fundraising round ever for a tech startup.
Son pulled a similar maneuver in November, publicly warning Uber Technologies that if he didn’t get the deal he wanted, his backing would go to archrival Lyft. Uber also took the money in a $9 billion investment unveiled last week.
Masayoshi Son has been an unstoppable force in the technology world over the last year. As he lined up a roster of big backers—Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and Apple’s Tim Cook among them—for SoftBank’s planned $100 billion Vision Fund, Son took stakes in scores of businesses engaged in a dizzying array of activities: ride-hailing, chip-making, office-sharing, satellite-building, robot-making, even indoor kale-farming.