Executive Managing Partner, SoftBank Global Advisers
CEO, SoftBank Group International
Alex is responsible for SoftBank Global Advisers’ daily operations and oversees its U.S. and Latin America investment teams. He joined SoftBank in 2015 after nearly 20 years at Morgan Stanley in investment banking in New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Alex holds a degree in East Asian Studies from Princeton University and speaks Mandarin Chinese, French, and (conversational) Japanese.
You’ve been at SoftBank for seven years. How has this experience shaped your approach to leadership?
I came from a traditional investing background, which was very risk averse. You didn't want to surprise your boss, even on the upside. At SoftBank, I’ve leaned into uncertainty because it’s in those unpredictable moments that you find new angles. You need to be open about your options and embrace the fact that you might not know what’s going to happen over the next six months. And after those six months, you need to be able to look back and learn from those experiences.
What are your main goals for the organization?
I am proud of SoftBank’s uniqueness as an institution. Some VC firms only care about the numbers, not the people behind them. We show up with the calculator, but we’re also there with our convictions and a desire to treat other people with humanity. That means supporting our founders in the big risks they’re taking, even if it takes time to see results, and treating every dollar we invest like it’s our own.
What sort of impact do you think SoftBank can have on the world?
We think that the companies we're backing are making the world a more connected, joyful place through their innovations in AI and other areas. In developing markets, we’re using technology to open doors to education and healthcare that would have otherwise taken decades to open. And in developed markets, we’re investing in themes that should improve lifestyles and business models for decades to come.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Staying open-minded and nimble is crucial to the work we do. It’s a fine balance between being bold about the direction you want to move in while keeping yourself open to correcting your course on the way there. In my countless conversations with founders or other partners in the market, I’ve always been open to feedback. When I get those suggestions — good or bad — I take them to heart and use them to adjust my strategy.
We’re entrepreneurs and experimenters just like the people at our portfolio companies. We’re constantly seeking out and reevaluating which paths will lead us to success.
Like many people at SoftBank, you’ve raised a family during your time here. When you think of the future you want to create, what does that look like?
Daily life has changed so rapidly in the past decade thanks to technology, and it’s so exciting to think about where we’ll be in another 10 years. I’m proud of the fact that our portfolio companies have helped contribute to making a better future for my children. At the same time, we should all care about how technology has deepened the divide between the haves and the have-nots. We need to make sure that the future we’re creating is better for everyone.