SoftBank Group International’s new CEO leaves, just five months after his appointment – ​​TechCrunch

If SoftBank investors were already feeling shocked by the conglomerate’s poor performance this year, a press release from the company tonight isn’t exactly going to allay their concerns.

The big news? French businessman Michel Combes, who was named CEO of SoftBank Group International in January after SoftBank lieutenant Marcelo Claure left the company over a pay dispute, will now leave the company as well.

Combes has tracked Claure’s movements before. Claure was previously CEO of SoftBank-controlled Sprint from 2014 to 2018, after which Combes took over as CEO until the spring of 2020, when, much to SoftBank’s relief, Sprint’s merger with T-Mobile received the regulatory approval. (SoftBank had taken over declining Sprint in 2012 in hopes of turning the company around. Meanwhile, Combes had previously worked as CEO of Vodafone Europe, Alcatel-Lucent and Altice, so he was apparently a good fit for the job. .)

Whether he deserves it or not, Combes also takes some of the credit for WeWork’s transition to a public company last fall, when WeWork merged with a blank check company. (Claure took over as CEO of the shared office space company in the fall of 2019 when SoftBank, a major investor in the business, gave her a financial lifeline after plans for a traditional IPO collapsed.)

In fact, in that statement from SoftBank about the change in management, Combes appears to be preparing for his next post by marking off his many accomplishments.

“It has been a pleasure working with Masa and the talented teams at SoftBank,” their statement reads. “I leave SoftBank proud to have accomplished what I set out to do here, which includes turning Sprint around and executing its merger with T-Mobile, successfully repositioning WeWork and going public, and most recently integrating SoftBank Latin America. Funds in the Vision Fund, as well as overseeing SoftBank’s strategic investments in French and European portfolio companies.”

Meanwhile, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is quoted as saying, “I want to thank Michel for his crucial contributions to SoftBank over the past five years. He has played a key role in some of our most important investments and assets, and I wish him all the best in his future plans. He makes me happy that he will continue to be a part of the SoftBank family by continuing to represent us on various portfolio company boards.”

As to why Combes would leave so abruptly, the statement doesn’t offer much more than “he decided to leave SoftBank to pursue new opportunities.”

While Combes is replaced by another SoftBank executive, Alex Clavel, a managing partner at SoftBank Group International who joined the firm nearly seven years ago, the move is sure to undermine SoftBank’s narrative that it is getting its business back on track after a blow. by external forces, from China’s crackdown to rising interest rates to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

His departure marks just one is a growing number of SoftBank employees leaving the company, including Claure, but also, last year, seven managing partners, including its most senior managing partner, Deep Nishar, who joined General Catalyst as Managing Director.

More people have left in 2022, including Ronald Fisher, Son’s longest-serving lieutenant (he joined SoftBank in 1995) and two of the three managing partners of SoftBank’s Latin America Fund, who announced in the spring that they were leaving. creating your own venture business.

SoftBank appears to be about to shrink further.

In the first half of last month, the company said it lost more money in its latest fiscal year than ever before ($13.2 billion) and will slow its pace of new investment. The market has only plunged further since then, putting further pressure on the company’s many investments.

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