Funds are betting $100 billion on data. Are they mad?

data Masayoshi Son
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You would not be considered wise to question the vision of Softbank founder Masayoshi Son. His vision and the vision of how the world will look in 2035 is extraordinarily bold and revolves around data. That, of course, is just his 15 year plan. Son also has a 300 year plan.

Take the investments that his Vision Fund has already made and all of the companies that are now in the Softbank family are based on the value of data.

It is the rationale behind every one of the fund’s investments. As Son says, “whoever controls data controls the world”.

A couple of years ago that quote would have had most people in the tech world nodding knowingly. Data was considered the new oil. Data was being mined in a manic, gold rush like fashion. And it still is.

Now, though, data has become a sensitive subject and how sensitive it becomes over the next year or two might just throw Son’s $100 billion bet off course.

People are becoming protective of their data.

Facebook, Google and others are under threat. Governments are clamping down. Fines are being imposed for irresponsible use of data. Permission needs to be sought from customers. Companies – Cisco is the latest – are gaining PR points by calling for greater regulation. The company wants a GDPR type law in the United States.

The threat to data gets more acute. If, according to an article on Futurism, AR becomes mainstream then ‘deep psychological data’ could end up in the wrong hands. Even if it doesn’t barely a day goes past without another large company fessing up to a data breach.

At the same time, Son’s goal is to reap the rewards that will come from the ‘singularity’, the point where AI takes over from humans and every industry on earth has been disrupted and reinvented.

The problem, of course, is that the timeline for his dream to become reality is also being disrupted. The combination of tightening regulation, increasing customer suspicion and a massive change in the way that data is used, and how, will put a large proverbial spoke in the wheels of Son’s data dream.

Of course, Son’s dream will not be the only one that is disrupted by the realisation that companies cannot make merry with customers’ personal property, which is how data will be viewed.

But it is certainly the biggest.

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