SoftBank’s son turns to female gaming pioneers to reorganize board

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After receiving a list of 30 candidates, Sun Zhengyi of Softbank turned to a 40-year-old friend in April to become the new female board member of the Japanese technology group.

Keiko Erikawa, chairman of Koei Tecmo Holdings, is exactly the type of female entrepreneur that the billionaire founder is looking for.The management style she brings is completely different from Sun Zhengyi’s high-risk approach, who took SoftBank from Historic loss Last year to The highest profit ever For a Japanese company.

Erikawa, a US$7.5 billion gaming company, co-founded with her husband. Nobunaga’s ambition with Unknown waters, No layoffs or losses in 43 years. It stood out from the Covid-19 pandemic with a capital adequacy ratio of 86%, highlighting the strength of its balance sheet.

“At first, I told him that our company was also looking for female managers, and I didn’t have time,” Erikawa recalled a conversation she had with Sun Zhengyi in the spring in an interview with the Financial Times. “But I think it might be interesting and acceptable. Considering that I have known him for a long time, we deal with various business affairs from time to time, so I know his character very well.”

Erikawa is expected to be appointed as a non-executive director of SoftBank this month, pending shareholder approval. Her nomination was obtained after Yuko Kawamoto, a well-known corporate governance expert, who was the first and only female director of the group. Stepped down last month After publicly challenging Sun Zhengyi on internal control issues.

The 72-year-old game designer Erikawa is also known for managing Koei Tecmo’s $1 billion surplus fund and other assets. She has been investing in stocks since she was 18.

“I have been continuing to invest in a difficult environment, including investments in start-ups. So I hope that being a member of the SoftBank board of directors can also help in this regard,” she said.

Erikawa and Son Masayoshi established SoftBank as a personal computer software distributor in 1981 and witnessed the company’s development into Japan’s third largest mobile operator and a Saudi-backed US$100 billion investment group Vision Fund“Considering his personality, he will not be satisfied until [SoftBank becomes] As the world’s number one investment company,” she said.

Although Kawamoto has always criticized Softbank’s governance structure, Erikawa said she is not too worried about the fluctuations in the group’s financial performance.

“After the big loss last year, Mr. Sun was very frustrated, so I said,’What are you talking about? Investment always comes with risk’,” Erikawa pointed out, referring to SoftBank’s disadvantaged bets, such as the real estate group WeWork. “Humanity progresses through challenges and failures, so I hope he can achieve good results in the future.”

One of Koei Tecmo’s challenges is the cultivation of female talents.

“Many Japanese women, including myself, don’t want to be senior managers. Even if they have the same responsibilities, they will find it easier to rank second psychologically than to be at the top,” Erikawa said. “There are so many talented women in Japan, so I strongly feel the need to change this structure.”

Hirokazu Hamamura, a gaming expert and digital content consultant at the publishing company Kadokawa, said that Erikawa could become a spokesperson for SoftBank’s board of directors and could counter Sun Zhengyi’s influence.

“Ms. Erikawa is a role model for other female managers and one of the pioneers in the gaming industry. She will not hesitate to tell anyone what she thinks, but because of her personality, she can do it without Offend others,” Hamamura said.

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