Meet The Fiercely Loyal "Guru" Behind Masayoshi Son At SoftBank

And so, all of a sudden, SoftBank - which has been suffering from a $23 billion loss at the hands of the global tech selloff - has a scapegoat advisor to Masayoshi Son.

The fall guy "guru", profiled in an FT piece out this weekend, is Yoshimitsu Goto, who is described as being "fiercely loyal" to Masayoshi Son. Masa hired Goto all the way back in 2000 after stating: “I like the look of his eyes. Let’s hire him.”

Perhaps Goto isn't just getting press now because of SoftBank's recent troubles - instead, perhaps it is because three of Masa's top executives have jumped ship over the last 18 months and Goto has been the exception.

As FT notes, SoftBank has lost its chief operating officer Marcelo Claure and strategy chief Katsunori Sago. Rajeev Misra, head of SoftBank’s Vision Fund, all in short order in less than 2 years. 

Goto, in the interim, has become "indispensable", the report says. And that's not because he continues to defend Masa as the company's Vision Fund suffers from terrible performance. 

Masa's "guru" says that the plan with the Vision Fund is to "stay the course": “I won’t be surprised [if Son changed his mind] but I don’t think that’s likely. Investment firm is this company’s ultimate style. The basis of Mr Son’s thinking is that change is the best growth strategy to avert risks.”

The report describes Goto's job as "to persuade investors to scrap what he describes as the misleading image of the deal-driven, debt-saddled group" as reckless. He has also been in charge of taking Masa's "big picture" ideas and converting them into "comprehensible pitches" for lenders.

Meet The Fiercely Loyal "Guru" Behind Masayoshi Son At SoftBank

That is to say, Masa's ideas must first usually be incomprehensible. Color us not surprised.

And Goto does supposedly stand up to the boss once in a while, the report says. He told FT: “When an executive in charge of the company’s financing and cash flow says no, that’s the end of the story so I know the weight of my words when I say no.”

“I tell my team not to search for reasons why they can’t do it, but to think of ways that can be done if they were to try it. When it’s really impossible, there is no answer and that’s when I say we should not do this. Mr Son is rational so he gets it right away.”

The one cardinal rule Goto has is not to do anything that would compromise the firm's relationship with Mizuho, where he formerly worked as a banker. “It takes a long time to build a relationship of trust but when it crumbles, it happens with the blink of an eye. I have never broken my promise with the banks in the past 20 years," he told FT. 

Koji Fujiwara, senior adviser at Mizuho Financial Group, said: “The current relationship between Mizuho and SoftBank Group would have been unthinkable without Mr Goto. That’s how important he is.”

Kiyoshi Miyake, the former deputy president of Mizuho Bank, concluded: “The ideas flow like water for Mr Son, and it was Mr Goto who said which of those can be done and which cannot be done.”

And as such, we're near certain he'll receive his fair share of the blame should the picture worsen for SoftBank...

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