Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan

Industry sector: Telecommunications

Softbank began life as a telecommunications company, but has since branched out into a range of technology sectors, thanks to a wide range of venture and other investment spending overseen by CEO Masayoshi Son. The biggest of these deals was its $32 billion acquisition of the United Kingdom’s ARM Holdings in 2016. This has made Softbank the owner of a large business that earns virtually all of its profits from licensing its intellectual property – the company’s proprietary designs for microprocessors power the great majority of the world’s smartphones. Son has indicated that the investment was a big bet on the future of the Internet of Things. While ARM’s IP team has remained in place, it is clear that parent Softbank is itself now a key global player when it comes to technology licensing.