Billionaire investor Masayoshi Son told CNBC he wasn’t worried that a handful of tech companies would become too powerful and crowd out for startups to thrive.
SoftBank CEO said in an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, co-host of Squawk Box, which aired on Thursday. Through its two Vision Funds, the Japan-based conglomerate of Son has invested billions of dollars in around 200 startups around the world.
Officials in the US and Europe have increasingly delved into the question of whether tech titans like Amazon, Google Parent Alphabet, Apple, and Facebook have anti-competitive practices. The EU has acted more aggressively, imposing numerous antitrust penalties on Alphabet in particular.
In the United States, Washington Democratic lawmakers published a comprehensive antitrust report on these four companies last year and concluded that they had monopoly power. In some cases, the report called for parts of their business to be outsourced. President Joe Biden, who took office earlier this year, also signaled a tougher stance on big tech with two of his managerial selections.
But Son doesn’t share the same point of view.
“These big corporations need to do their fair share of course, but I think they are reasonable companies,” said Son. “The more startups have their own options – lots of options – without complaining so much,” said Son he.
SoftBank invested in Amazon and Alphabet, but sold its stake last year. “I was a big believer – and I’m still a big believer – these big, high-tech names are going to keep growing,” said Son.
Sorkin specifically asked Son about Apple’s App Store fees and Amazon’s role as an e-commerce marketplace provider and seller of its own products through the same marketplace. Both practices have been criticized as unfair.
“If you’re unhappy, do it yourself,” Son replied. “If you’re happy, you should go along. It’s – you don’t have to follow, so I guess it’s not that bad.”
At the same time, Son said he believes that the big corporations that receive criticism of certain agreements should be receptive to it. For example, Apple recently cut the commission rate on its app store for smaller software developers after the heat was 30% too high.
“As a big platformer, you should always listen to the other participants if you want longer-term, even bigger growth,” he said.