The Man Who Built SoftBank’s Colossal Tech Fund Now Has To Fix It
Flying over Europe in a private jet last year, Rajeev Misra took his shoes off and propped his bare feet on the knee of a top executive of FIFA, soccer’s governing body. The executive froze while Mr. Misra, head of SoftBank Group Corp. 9984 0.05% ’s $100 billion Vision Fund, chatted about ways to make more money off the streaming rights for the organization’s tournaments.
The Vision Fund had become, in the span of a year, the world’s most influential technology investor, making Mr. Misra a kingmaker in Silicon Valley. The meeting on the plane was part of his plan to make the Vision Fund a colossus, with up to half a trillion dollars in investments and a seat at the center of the new economy.
Today, the Vision Fund is in trouble. Its bets on onetime darlings such as Uber Technologies Inc. and WeWork have fallen in value. Last week, SoftBank had to step in to rescue WeWork in a $10 billion deal that values the office-sharing startup at 80% below its peak.
Having put the Vision Fund together, Mr. Misra is now the man in charge of keeping it from falling apart. A finance whiz who cut his teeth on Wall Street, he pads around the Vision Fund’s London headquarters barefoot, often chewing on betel nuts, a mild stimulant. He recently changed the layout of his office after consulting his astrologer.
The past month has taken him to New York, where he arranged the financing for the WeWork rescue, and to the Middle East, where he tried to allay the concerns of the fund’s two largest investors, the governments of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
Mr. Misra and SoftBank’s founder, Japanese telecom magnate Masayoshi Son, snorkeled in the Red Sea with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Two superyachts—the 439-foot royal Serene and a ship borrowed for the occasion from Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson —hosted discussions about Saudi Arabia investing in a second $100 billion Vision Fund that Messrs. Son and Misra are laboring to raise. Ping pong followed with the prince’s top financial deputy.