Prior to joining SoftBank, Antoine spent 20 years in strategy and operations in digital media, serving as COO of Fox Interactive Media’s international division and senior VP of Corporate Development at News Corp/Amplify. He also worked for Vivendi/Universal Music Group, Orange Group, Capgemini, and McKinsey & Company. Antoine holds an MBA in finance and marketing from NYU’s Stern School of Business.
You got your start in the music industry. How has that shaped your career?
Yes, I have been working on the digital side of media as far back as in the late ’90s. Before that, I worked more directly with artists signed to PolyGram labels around the world who were seeking to launch in new countries—“artists in development.” This experience has more in common with my current work than you might think. In both cases, you have these very talented and driven people who are creating something new and found early success at home. Then they need the support of people who understand some of the local market opportunities and the mechanics of replicating that success globally.
How did you make the leap into operations?
I joined Universal Music Group in New York after its acquisition of PolyGram, as one of the first 10 employees of the e-Commerce and Advanced Technologies team. We were tasked with launching digital music services around the world. Then I moved to Vivendi Universal Net—the holding company for all our digital media assets. After a couple of years in strategy consulting advising our media clients on launching direct-to-consumer downloads, I joined Orange Mobile Group in London to grow revenues from mobile media services centered on music, movies, TV, gaming, and mobile internet.
My move to operations came when I joined Fox Interactive Media and became COO of the international division, based in London. That was actually when I first collaborated with SoftBank, as we had a joint venture in Japan for one of our companies. I moved back to New York to work for our parent company News Corp and assist a board member with the launch of an education technology company. After we sold it to a VC fund, I advised two investment firms in New York and London, as well as founders looking to expand to Europe, the US, and Latin America. When the opportunity to become the third hire of SoftBank’s newly created Operating Group and to support portfolio companies with international expansion and joint ventures, I joined immediately.
What philosophy guides your work?
I’ve lived and worked on a few different continents and launched or managed consumer-focused digital, mobile, and social media services, so I believe that experience aligns well with SoftBank's value proposition. We’re a very global organization, and we help founders think not just about expanding into new markets but about localizing their offerings to succeed in each country. That culturally nuanced perspective can even inform a founder’s decision and sequencing of an international expansion.
If you could achieve one thing in your work with founders, what would it be?
Wherever possible, I want to help founder-led businesses build strong teams with diverse backgrounds. The benefit of these kinds of teams is a more complete, nuanced perspective, especially when the organizational culture supports collaboration and mentorship. I make a point of supporting structures and practices that cultivate strong teams instead of worshipping individual heroes.
What about when you’re not at work—what’s something that most people don’t know about you?
Partly because of my early travels and education, I speak five languages, and my wife and I try to pass this on to our children. To be honest, work and family is about all that I have time for right now, with a bit of regular exercise whenever possible.