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- Through the $100 billion Vision Fund, Softbank CEO, Masayoshi Son, has invested millions in Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies — with help from his 12 managing partners.
- But the fund has faced scrutiny this year. SoftBank is working towards a $9.5 billion bailout from its deal with WeWork. The company’s culture is also in question after a recent Bloomberg Businessweek report, in which current and former employees describe the work environment as full of “political rivalries, harassment, compliance issues, and an abnormally high tolerance of risk.”
- SoftBank is also giving up its 50% stake in dog-walking app Wag after the departure of its CEO Hilary Schneider last month.
- Business Insider looked into the careers of the 12 managing partners behind some of the company’s biggest deals.
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It’s been a tough year for SoftBank.
The firm’s $100 billion Vision Fund — which has backed companies like Uber and Sprint — has faced scrutiny surrounding its decisions to invest in money-losing companies.
Earlier this year, the Vision Fund invested $19.9 billion in We Company, the parent of WeWork. SoftBank is working towards a $9.5 billion bailout from the deal, after the WeWork fiasco resulted in 2,400 employee lay-offs and CEO Adam Neumann’s resignation in September.
SoftBank is also giving up its 50% stake in dog-walking app Wag after the departure of its CEO Hilary Schneider last month. Jeff Housenbold, one of the Vision Fund’s managing partners who’s responsible for the investment deal, reportedly argued at a portfolio meeting that his misplaced judgement on Wag stemmed from his attempt to back female CEOs.
Moreover, chief financial officer Navneet Govil and Housenbold are facing scrutiny after Bloomberg Businessweek reported current and former employees describe the work environment as full of political rivalries, harassment, and compliance issues. SoftBank later denied the report.
Behind many of the Vision Fund’s investment decisions are its 12 managing partners. Business Insider looked into the careers of the company’s managing partners and why they made the news this year. Here they are in alphabetical order.
Akshay Naheta, managing partner, EMEA
Role at SoftBank:In January 2017, SoftBank hired Naheta to help manage $100 billion in funding for the purpose of breaking into the tech sector. Now, he’s a managing partner leading Europe, the Middle East, and Africa regions. He’s been involved in investments in car-dealing platform Auto1, Brazilian e-commerce firm Loggi, biopharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences, a graphics chipmaker Nvidia, and most recently a $1 billion investment in Wirecard, a German electronic-payment company.
Career highlights:Naheta worked as a top trader at Deutsche Bank. In 2011, he founded Knights Assets and Co., a London investment firm that focuses on arbitrage and value investing. His fund made an annual return of 113% a year on $416 million in investments, Business Insider reported.
Colin Fan, managing partner, Americas and Asia
Role at SoftBank:Fan focuses on fintech startups in the Americas and Asia region. He was most recently involved in a $655 million additional investment deal on Greensill Capital, a supply chain financing startup.
Career highlight:After spending 17 years at Deutsche Bank, Fan left the company while it was going through a major restructuring in 2015. Deutsche Bank split its asset and wealth management division into two and brought in a new CEO, John Cryan. Fan, the former head of global markets, resigned from his position and sued the bank over an unpaid bonus, Bloomberg reported. Both parties reached a $6 million settlement in 2018. Nevertheless, Fan rose through the ranks in trading operations at Deutsche Bank and earned six leadership titles, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Deep Nishar, senior managing partner, Americas
Role at SoftBank:Nishar was hands-on with SoftBank’s $250 million funding for computer storage company Cohesity. In an interview with Business Insider, he shared details about how he came across the investment deal through former colleague and the startup’s CEO Mohit Aron.
Career highlight:In 2009, Nishar left Google as senior director of product to work as LinkedIn’s senior vice president of product and user experience. He helped LinkedIn navigate through a complete digital redesign to fit with mobile users and introduced original editorial content, resulting in more than 187 million registered users by 2012, Business Insider reported.
Eric Chen, managing partner, Asia
Role at SoftBank:Chen runs the company’s China-based investment team as part of its initiative to expand into Asia’s booming tech market. Chen is an investment advisor based in San Francisco, and the company is building international offices in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong.
Career highlight:Chen was the managing director at Silver Lake, a leading tech investment firm. He also founded his own tech service platform, BaseBit Technologies.
Ervin Tu, managing partner, Americas
Role at SoftBank:Tu is the relationship lead for SoftBank’s partnerships. In April, he led a $333 million investment in Uber’s self-driving vehicle. SoftBank already serves as the ride-sharing company’s largest shareholder, putting in $500 million last year, CNBC reported.
Career highlight:The MBA graduate was a managing director at Goldman Sachs, overseeing the tech, media, and telecommunications group.
Greg Moon, managing partner, Asia
Role at SoftBank:Moon has been at the company for 23 years and he now leads the fintech, media, frontier tech, and real estate sectors in Asia. He led two major billion-dollar investment deals with tech service platform OneConnect and ride-sharing app Grab, Business Insider reported.
Career highlight:He was the CEO and president of SoftBank Ventures Korea before joining SoftBank’s Vision Fund as a managing partner. He ran the firm’s early-stage business in Seoul.
Jeff Housenbold, managing partner, Americas
Role at SoftBank:Housenbold managed the Vision Fund’s investment in Wag, a dog-walking app that’s facing some setbacks after CEO Hilary Schneider left last month and the startup has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs. SoftBank is selling back its nearly 50% stake in Wag.
Career highlight:At a company portfolio meeting in October, Housenbold said his misplaced judgement on Wag stemmed from his attempt to back female CEOs, Business Insider reported. He then deflected blame on the #MeToo movement, suggesting that it “limited his ability to maneuver” away from the Wag deal, according to a Bloomberg report.
Kentaro Matsui, managing partner, Asia
Role at SoftBank:Matsui leads SoftBank’s investment advisors in Japan, and he also focuses on fintech, health tech, transportation, and logistics transactions throughout Asia. In 2018, he set up a shareholder agreement with ZhongAn International to expand its insurtech service, according to Markets Insider.
Career highlight:Before his role as a managing partner, Matsui was a banker that oversaw SoftBank’s acquisition of Vodafone Japan and Arm Holdings.
Michael Ronen, managing partner, Americas
Role at SoftBank:Ronen leads SoftBank’s investment deals in the media and transportation industries. He most recently secured $1 billion of funding for Flexport, a freight forwarder startup now valued at $3.2 billion.
Career highlight:After completing his MBA at New York University’s Stern School of Business, he went straight to Goldman Sachs as head of media and telecom M&A. He was eventually promoted to the role of co-COO, running global investments, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Munish Varma, managing partner, EMEA and Asia
Role at SoftBank:Varma secured $390 million worth of funding to OakNorth, a UK-based digital bank startup. As one of the major players in the fintech business, he is also responsible for investment deals with Delhivery, FirstCry, Oyo, Paytm, and Policy Bazaar, Business Insider reported.
Career highlight:Varma is another MBA graduate from Cornell University and a Deutsche Bank alum. He worked as the head of global markets for Deutsche in India before joining SoftBank.
Saleh Romeih, managing partner, EMEA
Role at SoftBank:Romeih serves as a managing partner and a member of the Small Business Investor Alliance investment committee. He oversees global operations and diverse investment deals throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Career highlight:He spent 18 years as a managing director at Deutsche Bank before joining Softbank.
Yanni Pipilis, managing partner
Role at SoftBank:Pipilis joined SoftBank Vision Fund’s group of managing partners in September. He specializes in the finance and helping companies reach full growth potential, he stated on the company website.
Career highlight:Pipilis replaced Ram Nayak as the head of fixed-income trading at Deutsche Bank in 2018, according to MarketWatch. He played a major role in the credit trading business before joining SoftBank.