Sprint was just the beginning: Softbank adds to its mobile empire


Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son plans to create the world’s biggest company, and he sees the mobile Internet as the foundation of that empire. After Softbank closed on its $21.6 billion purchase of a controlling interest in Sprint, Son has moved forward this fall with two other major mobile acquisitions.

Last month Softbank agreed to buy control of Finnish game developer Supercell for $1.5 billion. “He who conquers games conquers smartphone content,” Son told a group of analysts and reporters, according to Rutberg & Co. Rutberg says the Supercell purchase represents the largest valuation to date for a mobile app M&A transaction. Supercell is the creator of a mobile game called “Clash of Clans.” The game is free to download, but within the game are multiple opportunities to engage further by spending money.

Also in October, Softbank agreed to buy 57% of mobile distribution powerhouse Brighstar for $1.26 billion. The deal gives Softbank a worldwide presence in mobile device logistics and distribution, and gives Sprint more control of its supply chain. Brightstar currently has operations in more than 50 countries, while the combination with Softbank will reach more than 90,000 points of sale worldwide, more than 200 mobile operators, 40,000 retailers and 15,000 enterprises.

Softbank recently reported financial results for the six months ending September 30. Sales were $26 billion, up 72% from the year-ago period, and operating income was $7.1 billion, up 66% from the year-ago period. Speaking to reporters after the earnings release, Son focused on the Supercell purchase and the importance of mobile games to his overall strategy, noting that games generate more revenue on smartphones than all other apps combined.

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Martha DeGrasse

Wireless Infrastructuremdegrasse@rcrwireless.com Martha DeGrasse has been creating content for RCR Wireless News since 2011. Recent feature reports include Building Tomorrow's Neworks, Outdoor DAS and Small Cell Case Studies, Wireless Infrastructure Service Company Review, and Investing in HetNets. (All of these can be found by clicking on Reports at the top of this page.) At RCR, Martha also developed the 5 Things to Know Today series and the Mobile Minute. Prior to joining RCR Wireless News, Martha produced business and technology news for CNN and Dow Jones in New York. Martha left Dow Jones to move to Austin, Texas, where she managed the online editorial group at Hoover’s Online before taking a number of years off to be at home when her children were young. Follow her on Twitter @mdegrasseRCR