The head of Japanese investor SoftBank is likely exhausted following the dramatic WeWork controversy, and it may explain why he appeared to fall asleep while onstage at a conference this week.
Masayoshi Son spoke on a panel about tech investment Tuesday at the Future Investment Initiative conference, dubbed “Davos in the desert,” which was held in Saudi Arabia. The conference was streamed live on YouTube and includes footage from Son’s panel, which Bloomberg reports drew almost no attendees.
It appears that Son wasn’t very enthused by the panel either, as spotted by a Twitter user. It’s not clear when Son exactly started to nod off, but he appears to be dozing off when the livestream first cuts a wide-shot showing Son between the panel moderator and private equity CEO Robert Smith, who’s in the middle answering a question. The video then cuts to a closer shot showing just Smith and Son, where it’s clear that Son’s eyes are closed.
You might be able to argue that Son isn’t necessarily asleep — just “resting” his eyes, as my grandpa would say — but that argument isn’t as sound considering what happens next. After about 25 seconds of sitting there with his eyes closed, Son’s head droops down and he appears to wake from his slumber. Son then blinks a few times and turns toward the talking panelist.
It’s been a wild couple of months for Son as he watched WeWork weather the storm following its IPO tailspin (SoftBank has invested nearly $20 billion in WeWork over the years). First, Son led the push to oust former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann after the company’s IPO failed. Son then steered SoftBank’s takeover of WeWork, which saw the Japanese firm take 80% control of the company. Neumann left the board of directors in exchange for $1.7 billion.
Additionally, Son’s presence at the annual Saudi Arabia investment conference this week is controversial in itself. Son, as well as dozens of companies and executives, boycotted the summit last year following the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s ties to his killing. However, Son and other leaders returned in droves to the summit this year.
You can watch the full moment where Son seems to fall asleep for yourself, thanks to the recording of the conference on YouTube. Start at the 4:20:16 mark: