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SoftBank Group to shift towards AI

SoftBank Group has lain low over the past year as plunging tech stocks sank the company into two straight years of losses.

The latest frenzy in artificial intelligence, got its flamboyant chairman, Masayoshi Son, excited again.


Tweet on Softbank by Reuters

The AI boom could bring real benefits to the company, but SoftBank needs to be careful not to dive headlong into another rash investment spree.

On Wednesday, Son said that it would soon be time for SoftBank “to go on the counteroffensive.”

SoftBank could indeed benefit from the surging use of AI.

Its stock has jumped 37% since Nvidia, another obvious beneficiary of the AI mania, last month forecasted record profit due to strong demand for its cutting-edge chips. U.K. chip designer Arm, acquired by SoftBank in 2016 for $32 billion, will also be a winner as companies invest more in computational firepower. SoftBank has a 75% direct stake in Arm, with the rest owned by its Vision Fund.

Nvidia, the undisputed leader in AI chips, tried to acquire Arm to create the “world’s premier computing company for the age of AI”—as the deal announcement put it—in 2020. The transaction fell apart last year as it failed to gain regulators’ nod.

Still, the two companies symbiotic relationship continues to be a notable feature of the chip world. Nvidia plans to start shipping its Grace server chips, based on Arm’s architecture, this year in a bid to challenge Intel and Advanced Micro Devices in central processors for data centers.


Image: Softbank