Asked about Blackstone’s competition in the alternative asset space during the firm’s latest earnings conference call, co-founder Stephen Schwarzman spoke at length about SoftBank and its founder Masayoshi Son.
“SoftBank is an unusual firm,” he said on Thursday when Blackstone released fourth-quarter earnings. “Masa is really an unusual guy. He’s bold. He’s sleepless. He’s aggressive.”
SoftBank has raised the vast majority of its Vision Fund, which has a $100 billion target, but has yet to hold a final close. The firm has already made several tech investments, including in ride-sharing company Uber and dog-walking company Wag.
Schwarzman said SoftBank has chosen to invest in companies which do not generate cashflow.
“That’s a highly specialised set of characteristics, and what he’s done – quite brilliantly, actually – is go out to be the defining institution in that asset class and the world has given him capital to do that,” he said.
“Any blockage to access to public markets will create an immense need for financing, and Masa is in that space. He’s been very clever and he’s made some really good choices historically and had good returns. That to me, it’s an outlier. He’s an outlier in terms of his – not to beat the phrase –vision.”
Schwarzman added that outside of SoftBank, “I don’t think we see anybody who has the aspiration that we have”.