The mystery player behind the unprecedented summer-long rally in tech stocks appears to be the colorful billionaire CEO of Japanese conglomerate Softbank.
Masayoshi Son, known for making big plays in tech giants like Alibaba and Uber, has spent billions of dollars buying options on individual tech stocks starting in the spring, according to multiple reports on Friday. The investments, some of which came from Son’s own pockets, appear to have helped push the values of big tech names soaring high enough to pull the broader markets out of their COVID-related swoon, these reports said.
Softbank, which took a $17 billion loss in May related to its investments in Uber and WeWork, doled out more than $4 billion to take large positions in Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Tesla during the COVID market crash this spring, according to the Wall Street Journal. Son and his firm also bought billions more in options that would pay off handsomely if those stocks hit certain levels, the report said.
Tech stocks have been on a roll in recent months despite record unemployment with companies like Elon Musk’s Tesla more than doubling in value since July before falling back a bit on Thursday.
The surge had Wall Streeters abuzz over the huge volume of options buying — and nicknaming the culprit the “Nasdaq Shark” after that exchange gained more than 60 percent between April and September thanks in large part to the unusual options action.
Son — worth an estimated 30.2 billion, according to Forbes — is known in Silicon Valley for his colorful personality as well as his extreme successes, like Alibaba, and failures, like WeWork. In a May presentation to analysts, he reportedly compared himself to Jesus Christ when discussing SoftBank’s $18 billion loss by reminding Wall Street that “Jesus was also misunderstood and criticized.”