"Meanwhile, dependence on external sources of skills and technology will continue," he said, "perhaps for another ten years before a discernible shift to domestic sourcing."
An entrepreneurial environment also requires the right kinds of laws to foster invention.
"It takes a legal system that rewards success, protects intellectual property, and treads softly on failure," said Fotak.
In any event, the money will be there. Although it's impossible to predict which companies the SoftBank Vision Fund will invest in, it's not too difficult to predict what it will invest in. In a word, happiness.
Back in 2010, SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son outlined the company's 300-year plan to investors. That's right. A 300-year plan.
In the presentation, slide after slide reinforced a vision to "focus on information revolution and contribute to people's happiness," "comfort people in sorrow," and "increase people's joy." The idea is to advance technologies that "bring brain-computers to life" and produce a future where people live to be 200 years old, translate foreign languages automatically, communicate telepathically (even with dogs), and coexist with intelligent robots.
"They're very clever and highly successful on the technology front," said Kane of SoftBank, calling the company "a big risk-taker for big technology."
RELATED: From Oceans to Space: X Prizes Push Innovations
An injection of billions of dollars into such radical ventures could accelerate breakthroughs in these technologies by 10 or 15 years, said Schotter.
"It's free money that wants to invest in these opportunities," he said.
But the sudden availability of so much free money could also cause instability.
"It's ginormous compared to anything folks have seen before," explained Tom Ciccolella, who leads Bay Area venture capital and private equity assurance practices at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "It would put a really big stress into the system."
Among the possible shortfalls of such a massive fund, throwing billions of dollars at various tech startups could artificially inflate their value and produce a sector bubble - a concern that has already been raised about the current state of the tech market. And unlike the dot-com era of the late 90s and early 2000s, where executives longed for the initial public offering that would make them overnight-millionaires, today's big startups are staying private longer, which can have the effect of weakening oversight and transparency.
But with all of that money, what worry does Saudi Arabia have of a bubble bursting?
"They may lose money on a bubble bust, but if they've created some sort of influence within their country with technology, then mission accomplished," said Kane. "Even if it's not a good investment as far as the money goes."
For a country focused on sovereign success, shaking up the economy may be the least of their concerns.