‘I’m a key man’: The head of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, recently accused of blackmailing a rival, defends the company and himself in a new interview

  • Rajeev Misra, the manager of SoftBank’s Vision Fund, espoused optimism for the future of the fund in the next 18 to 24 months, in a recent interview with CNBC.
  • Misra and SoftBank have faced criticism after WeWork’s failed attempt to go public and an explosive report from The Wall Street Journal claimed that Misra oversaw an operation to blackmail a former SoftBank executive.
  • Misra said he expects the Vision Fund to succeed in the coming months in spite of the global economic downturn from the effects of the coronavirus. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

SoftBank Vision Fund manager Rajeev Misra spoke optimistically about the future of the $100 billion Vision Fund despite mounting skepticism against SoftBank and recent criticism of the executive himself on Friday in an interview with CNBC.

Misra is confident that Vision Fund’s portfolio of more than 90 companies will take off with dozens of IPO’s in the upcoming 18 to 24 months. 

“I guarantee you will see the outcome of our investments will change,” Misra told CNBC.

SoftBank, which invested early in WeWork and now owns the company, saw the value of its investment in WeWork cut into a fraction after the office-sharing company’s failed attempt to go public. It spent $10 billion bailing out WeWork after its IPO plans imploded and installed Misra to oversee what it hopes will be a turnaround.

SoftBank’s critics have accused it of overvaluing companies and giving encouraging start-up founders to think bigger and grow at all costs, a factor that some have said directly contributed to the much-criticized management decisions of former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann. Since WeWork’s march toward going public sputtered out with all eyes on it, other startups in the firm’s investment portfolio have closed down or gone through broad management shakeups.

Doubts have also been raised about Misra’s ability to raise capital for Vision Fund 2, another ambitious investment fund with a goal to eventually raise over a $100 billion dollars. Recent reports have said that SoftBank is struggling to raise even half that amount, and SoftBank itself is the only confirmed backer.

And as Misra has become an increasingly powerful executive within SoftBank’s ranks, criticism has also been directed at Misra himself. The executive was accused in a report from The Wall Street Journal of cutthroat tactics against rivals, including overseeing an attempt to blackmail a former SoftBank president by attempting to lure him into a “honey trap” with compromising sexual photos. Misra and SoftBank have denied the claims.

Speaking with CNBC, he stressed that SoftBank has straightened out foreseeable issues with its Vision Fund portfolio, making sure companies audited financials properly.

“We’ve made many mistakes, which is normal,” Misra said. “We learn from our mistakes and are incorporating what we learn back into our process as we embark on Vision Fund 2.”

Vision Fund’s struggle comes at an inopportune time considering the state of global economics amid the coronavirus outbreak, with the S&P 500 dipping into one of its worst weeks since 2008. One-third of the companies in Vision Fund 1 are based in Asia.

“Overall, am I concerned about the business impact in China?” Misra said. “Yes, definitely. I’m worried about what coronavirus will mean for our Chinese investments.”

Even in the midst of both personal criticism and skepticism over the future of Vision Fund 2 and the firm’s earlier investments, Misra positioned himself as vital to the company.

“I’m a key man,” he told CNBC. “I owe it to my stakeholders, my LPs, my employees to be here for the journey.”

Read the full interview over at CNBC.

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