Michael Ronen, a former Goldman Sachs banker who joined SoftBank in 2017, is leaving the conglomerate’s $100 billion Vision Fund over “issues,” the Financial Times reported on Tuesday (Feb. 4).
Ronen told the news outlet he had been “negotiating the terms of my anticipated departure” for several weeks. Ronen was a managing partner of the Vision Fund’s U.S. investments. He was instrumental in the fund’s investments in Getaround, GM Cruise and Nuro.
As he plans his exit, sources close to the discussions have said that SoftBank and Founder Masayoshi Son had so far not raised any outside funds for the firm’s second Vision Fund.
A source “briefed on the negotiations” said Deep Nishar, a former LinkedIn and Google executive, and Colin Fan, a former Deutsche Bank executive, will likely assume Ronen’s U.S. duties.
The technology consortium, which has weathered a sequence of difficulties — notably WeWork’s failed initial public offering — is also in talks to replace Vice Chairman Ron Fisher, sources told FT. Fisher has reportedly been one of Son’s closet and longest-serving confidants.
SoftBank said Fisher was “a valued member of the SoftBank family” and was “not going anywhere.”
Fisher joined SoftBank in 1995 and is said to be a close adviser to Son. Fisher was on the WeWork board when Son signed off on SoftBank’s $10 billion investment in WeWork. Fisher also worked with WeWork’s management regarding growth and strategy, sources said per the report.
Although Son said investors like Apple, Microsoft and the National Bank of Kazakhstan were investing a total of $108 billion in the second Vision Fund, there have been no confirmations. Regardless, SoftBank backed the fund with roughly $5 billion so it could begin making investments, said a knowledgeable source.
SoftBank is now said to be pressuring the startups it has funded to get on the road to profitability.
Gains in China’s Alibaba have offset some of Softbank’s losses. SoftBank owns a 25 percent stake in the eCommerce group.
Son has said he would “continue to invest more and more” despite a loss of ¥970 billion ($8.9 billion) at SoftBank’s Vision Fund and a smaller fund.