In fairy tales, a crystal ball can be many things: it can reveal the future, but it can also be a malevolent charm that drives peaceful villagers insane with greed. The former rather than the latter is what Masayoshi Son had in mind in 2016 when, after paying $32bn to buy Arm — the most aggressive gamble of his life at the time — he described the UK chip designer as “my crystal ball”.
As an investor obsessed for decades with the evolution of communications and software, the SoftBank founder had just bought a company through which he believed he could see the future of every trend in computing, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
The idea that he possessed magical insight became a formidable tool for one of Asia’s greatest salesmen. It was a pitch that allowed Mr Son to entice billions of dollars from Middle Eastern investors