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SoftBank Gives ‘Very Public Lesson’ to Founders in WeWork Ouster

  • Founder Son stresses greater focus on governance ahead of IPOs
  • Investors won’t tolerate structures that privilege founders
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Masayoshi Son, long known as a free-spending benefactor who encouraged startup founders to pursue their dreams even if it meant losing billions of dollars, had a different message for entrepreneurs last week: Your dreams had better be profitable.

The chief executive officer of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. told company leaders gathered at the five-star Langham resort they need to become profitable soon and stressed the importance of good governance, according to a person who attended the event. Public investors aren’t going to tolerate gimmicks, like super-voting rights or complicated share structures, that privilege founders over other stakeholders, he said, adding they should get in shape years before they consider going public.