Billionaire investor Masayoshi Son told CNBC he was not concerned that a handful of technology companies were becoming too powerful and crowding out the landscape for start-ups to succeed.
The SoftBank CEO made his comments in an interview with “Squawk Box” co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin that aired Thursday. Through its two Vision Funds, Son’s Japan-based conglomerate has invested billions of dollars into around 200 start-ups across the world.
Officials in the U.S. and Europe have increasingly been taking a harder look at whether tech titans such as Amazon, Google-parent Alphabet, Apple and Facebook engage in anti-competitive practices. The E.U. has been more aggressive in its pursuit, handing out numerous antitrust fines to Alphabet in particular.
In the U.S., Democratic lawmakers in Washington last year released an extensive antitrust report on those four companies, concluding they hold monopoly power. In some cases, the report called for the parts of their businesses to be spun off. President Joe Biden, who took office earlier this year, also has signaled a tougher stance toward Big Tech with two of his selections for administration roles.
But Son does not share the same view.
“Those big companies, of course, have to behave within the reasonable range, but they are reasonable companies, in my view,” Son said. “The more start-up companies has their own opportunities — lots of opportunities — without making complaints that much,” he said.
SoftBank has invested in Amazon and Alphabet, but sold its stakes last year. “I have been a big believer —and I am still a big believer — those high tech big names are going to continue to grow,” Son said.
Sorkin specifically asked Son about Apple’s App Store fees and Amazon’s role as an e-commerce marketplace provider and a seller of its own products through that same marketplace. Both practices have been criticized as unfair.
“If they are unhappy, they should do it themselves,” Son responded. “If they are happy, they should join. It’s– they don’t have to follow, so I think it’s not that bad.”
At the same time, Son said he believes the large companies receiving criticism for certain arrangements should be receptive to it. For example, Apple recently reduced the commission rate on its App Store for smaller software developers after facing heat that 30% was too high.
“As a big platformer, they should always listen to the other participants if they want to have a longer-term, even bigger growth,” he said.