Prior to joining SoftBank, Faisal was a Managing Director at Deutsche Bank where he worked for nearly 18 years. Most recently he was responsible for the Financing and Solutions Group for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. He is a graduate of the LSE and a Chartered Accountant by qualification.
What do you look for in a founder?
There are a lot of elements to that answer, but a very important one is the degree to which we think there is fit between our ecosystem of companies and the underlying business that we are investing in. I believe that, between our portfolio companies and those of our partners, we have assembled a unique stable of market leaders within different spheres of the technology industry, around the world. A founder that is receptive to leveraging this platform is best suited to our investment philosophy.
Our entire value proposition is built around founders, their ambitions and their readiness for scaling and globalizing their businesses.
What about the founder's management style? Is that something you look at?
Our entire value proposition is built around founders, their ambitions and their readiness for scaling and globalizing their businesses. Those who do it best are already leaders in their home market. Their size and scale is duly supported by a strong management team and an organization built around systems and processes that can handle rapid growth. I am engaged with our portfolio companies that have interest in expanding across the Middle East. Founders of these companies perceive the opportunity of such expansion and are equally aware of its challenges, and they have built in-house infrastructure and expertise that can help successfully execute their business plan away from their home market.
How are you seeing artificial intelligence reshape markets?
Think about ride sharing companies. At a basic level, these companies deploy AI to understand traffic patterns, vehicle availability, demand patterns, and event-driven local data to match customers with drivers in a dynamic pricing environment. Ride sharing is just one market segment that uses AI effectively; there is a plethora of others that similarly use AI as the basis of their entire business model.
What about your life outside of work? What’s your favorite way to unwind?
I love riding horses—it’s something I’ve done since I was a child. I’m currently based in the UAE, where there are a number of good quality equestrian facilities alongside well-organized desert trails. This means that I can actually ride in the desert, not in a stable or going around a ring. Riding in the desert lets you go out into the wild. I love guiding horses on a trail; it's actually very adventurous and just takes you away from your daily routine. It's very peaceful.