SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son announces rollout of 1 million coronavirus test kits

Masayoshi Son, Founder of the Japanese conglomerate Softbank, ended his long hiatus on Twitter today, to express his support to help curb the current pandemic of coronavirus.

For anyone who has followed Masayoshi Son’s journey to building a tech empire and a personal fortune of over $18 billion, one would know that he thrives under pressure. However, the ace investor has been away from social media and the press for some time now, especially after the WeWork debacle turned some tables around, last year.

But now, the 62-year-old Korean-Japanese entrepreneur broke his silence on Twitter to announce that he would be joining the fight to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).

Masayoshi Son, Founder and CEO, Softbank

He said, "It's been a long time since I tweeted, I am worried about the coronavirus situation. To those who are worried about the corona virus, I would like to provide a simple PCR test opportunity for free. Starting with 1 million people, we are now looking at ways to deploy coronavirus test kits."

Calling out that it is 'Time for action' in a follow-up tweet, Son also posted a pictorial depiction of the PCR's flow.

Owing to the general tension around startups being able to handle a potential economic slowdown, the venture capital industry is now closely working with its portfolio companies. Son has investments in many ventures including DoorDash, WeWork and Uber, which are also prone getting affected by the outbreak of coronavirus.

"A mechanism that allows you to walk around the hospital for coronavirus testing and collect samples at home to avoid increasing infection. The Gates Foundation has a similar scheme," Son tweeted, crediting Bill Gates' Gates Foundation.

Recently, in a memo to its founders and CEOs, Sequoia Capital dubbed coronavirus as 'the black swan of 2020', and observed that it could have far-reaching implications, as dire as that during the global economic crisis of 2008-09.

The VC firm urged companies to 'question every assumption' about their businesses, including cash runaway, fundraising, sales forecasts, marketing, headcount, capital spending, and more.

“With lives at risk, we hope that conditions improve as quickly as possible. In the interim, we should brace ourselves for turbulence and have a prepared mindset for the scenarios that may play out," the memo, later published on its Medium blog, stated.

And an overwhelming part of the conversations about the recent WeWork debacle were centred around SoftBank and its large bets on tech startups across the world. To be sure, the Japanese investment firm, which orchestrated a $9.5 billion bailout of the office-rental company WeWork, was under scrutiny for its audacious bets on disruptive startups around the world.

So far, over 136,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, with India's count being 81.

(Edited by Kanishk Singh)