SoftBank’s Rajeev Misra to step back to launch new fund: report

Rajeev Misra is stepping down from his senior roles at SoftBank Group Corp., marking the exit of one of the key architects of the Japanese conglomerate’s sometimes chaotic evolution into the world’s largest technology investor.

A key lieutenant to SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, Misra will retain a senior position at the group’s first $100 billion Vision fund, but will forgo other roles, people familiar with the matter said.

Misra recently held talks with Son in Tokyo, during which he told his boss he intended to leave to pursue his own business, according to the people, who asked not to be identified while discussing confidential information. .

It has already secured more than $6 billion in support, including from Middle Eastern investors, for a new fund that will target a mix of strategies, the people said. Akshay Naheta, a former Misra colleague, is expected to join the company, they said.

Deliberations are ongoing and no final decision on the size of the fund or when to launch it has been made, according to the people. The plans could also still fail, they said. A SoftBank representative confirmed Misra’s decision to take a step back.

Misra will continue as CEO of the initial Vision Fund and become vice president of SoftBank’s broader investment arm, with Son taking over Misra’s positions, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.

Misra’s decision to step back at SoftBank will complete the conglomerate’s top investment ranks, which had been bolstered over the years by a string of hook bank hires.

The 60-year-old Deutsche Bank AG alum made the Vision Fund one of Silicon Valley’s greatest high-flying startup champions before public stumbles and internal strife darkened his star. The fund’s attempts to regain its footing were hampered by a drop in technology valuations, which led to a record loss for SoftBank in the quarter ended in March.

After joining Deutsche Bank in 1997, Misra rose through the ranks to become a key deputy to then-CEO Anshu Jain. After short stints at UBS Group AG and Fortress Investment Group, Misra landed at SoftBank in 2014. He had previously struck up a relationship with Son by helping him fund tough deals.

The initial Vision Fund would raise nearly $100 billion, including $45 billion from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, as well as capital from Apple Inc., the Abu Dhabi government and others. Under the leadership of Misra and other former Deutsche Bank executives, Vision Fund helped start the trend of investing heavily in startups, which drove valuations higher.

In its first year of investing, Vision Fund committed $65 billion to acquire significant stakes in Uber Technologies Inc., WeWork and Slack Technologies Inc.

But the bets started to go downhill. SoftBank’s investment in WeWork collapsed, eventually leading the investor to bail out the remote work startup. A complex side deal with Wirecard AG, which netted SoftBank executives a hefty profit, drew criticism after the German payments firm failed.

While deploying a flurry of startup capital, Misra also battled senior rivals including former COO Marcelo Claure and chairman Nikesh Arora, ultimately outlasting them both.

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