Japan's Masayoshi Son

In the early '80s, Masayoshi Son only half-jokingly had to "pledge his life as collateral" to skeptical Japanese bankers to get start-up financing for Softbank Corp. Back then, Softbank was an obscure software distributor, and Son was an ethnic Korean with the improbable dream of breaking into Japan's old-boy business culture. Today, Softbank is a $3.7 billion powerhouse. It is Japan's biggest software distributor, an innovative purveyor of Internet services, and a player in satellite TV. Son is one of Japan's richest businessmen, with over $1 billion, yet he strives for more than just wealth. He wants to "become the top global player in digital information services."

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