- SoftBank’s Vision Fund is the world’s largest tech investor and has backed companies like Uber, WeWork, and Ola.
- The $100 billion is partly funded by SoftBank, with significant backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
- The fund is most closely associated with SoftBank Group’s CEO, Masayoshi Son. But the senior team is made up of a number of former investment bankers and technologists.
- Together, they’re writing checks for billions of dollars and reshaping the tech landscape.
Softbank’s Vision Fund has set out to find the tech stars of tomorrow today.
Led by the billionaire Masayoshi Son, the $100 billion mega fund drew astonishment, acclaim, and scorn upon its launch in 2017. Doling out checks in increments of at least $100 million, it has amassed a sprawling and formidable portfolio of about 80 tech investments in AI, semiconductors, e-commerce, transportation, and healthcare.
And it backs some of the biggest names in tech today, including Uber, Slack, WeWork, and Grab.
The rich financial support has allowed tech companies to remain privately held for longer periods by providing liquidity for employees and resources for aggressive expansion campaigns.
The fund itself has grown quickly. It’s claimed that it will soon have 800 staff, up from 400 in September. At the top, there are 34 key figures driving SoftBank forward, including investors, technologists, and talent spotters.
Of those managing partners and partners, 29 are men, five are women, and 15 are former investment bankers or traders.
Meet the SoftBank Vision Fund’s top people.
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images
Japan’s richest man is something of an icon amongst tech investors.
Son is of South Korean descent and studied at UCLA Berkeley. He was an early investor in Yahoo and Alibaba and has since used his platform to invest in and acquire a variety of tech and telecom companies, including US wireless operator Sprint. He founded Softbank in 1981 and bet big on the internet, losing billions during the dot-com crash, but has remained committed and now plows billions of dollars into startups every year.
"I don’t like No. 2. From my personality perspective, I can’t accept No. 2. I need to be No. 1. I’ve been like that since I was a kid," Son is quoted as saying, according to TechCrunch.
Rajeev Misra, CEO, SoftBank Investment Advisers
Misra is SoftBank’s executive vice president and serves as a director on SoftBank’s board. He is also CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisers, the group that oversees the firm’s $100 billion Vision Fund.
The 57-year-old grew up in Delhi, India, before attending the University of Pennsylvania to study mechanical engineering. He has said his dream when he was younger was to work at Bell Labs, the famous R&D institution, and he spent time earlier in his career working at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
From there he made his way to finance, making his name as a top trading executive at Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, and UBS, and hedge-fund Fortress Investment Group.
He joined SoftBank in 2014 and became CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisers in May 2017. Since then he has helped oversee high-profile investments in several major tech startups including WeWork, and become the public face of the Vision Fund.
Ron Fisher, vice chairman, SoftBank Group
SoftBank Investment Advisors
Ron Fisher founded SoftBank Capital in 1995, the investment arm of SoftBank Group that oversees the Vision Fund, where he has served as vice chairman and head of investment since stepping aside as Managing Partner in 2015.
Fisher has bet big on US based technology startups like mobile-device-storage company PogoPlug in December 2010, and workplace-rental company WeWork’s parent The We Company in August 2017. He was also involved in the Vision Fund’s $1 billion investment in sports apparel site Fanatics in September 2017.
Before joining SoftBank Group, Fisher served as the CEO of Phoenix Technologies, a system software developer for personal computers, and Interactive Systems, UNIX software company.
He sits on the board of Sprint, where he has been the vice chairman since SoftBank took majority ownership of the wireless carrier in 2013, and the chip manufacturer ARM, following an all-cash share offer in September 2016.
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