The son of SoftBank turns to a female pioneer of games to shake the board

SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son applied to a four-decade-old friend in April after she was presented with a list of 30 candidates to become a new female member of the Japanese tech group.

Keiko Erikawa, president of Koei Tecmo Holdings, was the kind of businesswoman the billionaire founder was looking for. He brings a management style that is drastically different from Son’s high-risk approach taken away by SoftBank historical loss last year to: When is the highest profit? for a Japanese company.

The $ 7.5 billion gaming company Erikawa co-founded with her husband, which is known for hits such as Nobunaga ambition և: Unknown watershas never harmed or harmed an employee in its 43 years. It came out of the Covid-19 epidemic with a capital adequacy ratio of 86 percent, underscoring its balance sheet strength.

“At first I told her that our company was also looking for female leadership, that I did not have time,” Erikawa told the Financial Times, recalling a conversation she had with Son in the spring. “But I thought it might be fun, given that I’ve known him for a long time. We’ve been in different businesses from time to time, so I know his personality very well.”

Erikawa is expected to be appointed non-executive director of SoftBank this month, pending shareholder approval. Her nomination comes after Yuko Cavamoto, a well-known corporate governance expert who was the group’s first and only female director, resigned last month after openly challenging Son on internal control issues.

Erikawa, a 72-year-old game designer, is also known for managing Koei Tecmo’s $ 1 billion in surplus assets and investing in stocks since the age of 18.

“I have always continued to invest in tough environments, including investing in start-ups. So, I hope that as a member of the SoftBank Board, I will be somewhat useful in that regard as well, ”he said.

Erikawa has known Sonny since 1981, when he founded SoftBank as a software distributor, and watched as the company became Japan’s third largest mobile operator in Japan, a $ 100 billion investment group backed by Saudi Arabia. Vision Fund:“Given his personality, he will not be satisfied until.” [SoftBank becomes] “It is the number one investment company in the world,” he said.

While Cavamoto was critical of SoftBank’s management structure, Erikawa said he was not too concerned about the group’s financial instability.

“After a big loss last year, Mr. Son was very depressed, so I said, ‘What do you say?’ “Investing is always risky,” Erikawa said, citing SoftBank sour cream bets such as the WeWork property group. “People are improving through challenges and failures, so I hope he will be able to do well in the future.”

One challenge for Koei Tecmo has been to develop women’s talent.

“Including myself, many Japanese women do not want to be in the top management. “Even if they have the same responsibilities, they are psychologically easier to be in number two than to be ahead,” Erikawa said. “There are so many talented women in Japan Aponia, so I really need to change this structure.”

Hirokazu Hamamura, a gaming expert and digital content consultant at Kadokawa Publishing, said Erikawa could become a voice on SoftBank’s board that could counteract Son’s influence.

“Mrs. Erikawa is a role model for other women managers. She is one of the pioneers of the gaming industry. “He will not hesitate to talk his thoughts to anyone, but he can do it without offending people because of himself,” said Hamamura.

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