A leader in the global telecom industry for more than three decades, Javier brings expertise in scaling businesses to his work with the Vision Fund. He was managing director for Motorola Ventures before moving to Brightstar, which he helped expand into 35 new markets. Prior to joining SoftBank, he helped Greensill grow its technology and telecom practice globally. His current role at the Vision Fund is focused on delivering operational support to help portfolio companies accelerate growth, scale up, and expand globally.
- Leyden Labs
Where did you get your start?
I grew up in Colombia and got a degree in engineering. After that, my career took me in surprising directions, but that first interest in engineering and building things—understanding how they work—has stayed with me. I was an entrepreneur myself, and built a couple of software startups in South America. Then in the late ’90s, I was recruited to join Motorola, which was an icon of the tech world at the time. I moved to the United States and worked on Motorola’s global business development, with a focus on launching new fixed and mobile communication technologies around the world.
What was it like going from a startup to a multinational tech giant?
I loved it! I was able to get a bird’s eye view of scaling businesses and the development of new markets all over the world. I then worked my way into Motorola Ventures, where I regularly met with founders and heard about interesting new business models and tech platforms. So I was involved in startups again, but now from the investing side. That’s how I met Marcelo Claure—a young Hispanic entrepreneur who had built an amazing mobile phone distribution company called Brightstar. I saw in him incredible talent, ambition, and potential. Eventually, I was invited to join his company to help him expand into 35-plus countries and develop new business lines. It was so successful we were bought by SoftBank.
What brought you to an operating partner role at the Vision Fund?
After 10 years at Brightstar, I decided I needed an extended break. It turns out, I’m not good at that, because I got recruited to work for a fast-growing fintech startup where I worked for a couple of years. While there, I was tapped by SoftBank to come help build the Operating Group. Hardest choice I’ve ever made. I was so passionate about the company I was helping build, but was also captivated by Masa’s plans to make the Vision Fund the epicenter of global tech innovation. I’m a geek engineer at heart, always hungry for an intellectual challenge. I just couldn’t pass it up, so I said yes.
The intention of the Operating Group is to strengthen each portfolio company, spark real collaboration across our portfolio, and accelerate growth and value creation.
As one of the founding members of the Operating Group, how would you describe the group’s function?
The intention of the Operating Group is to strengthen each portfolio company, spark real collaboration across our portfolio, and accelerate growth and value creation. Our operating partners are extremely talented and experienced leaders who can become trusted advisors to founders, working closely with them to resolve the challenges of running a business. They’re able to look across all the different companies in the portfolio for opportunities to collaborate. They’re also incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to helping companies scale operations and expand into new markets. So those are our primary functions, but our work looks different with each company.
What should founders expect when working with you?
I lead the growth and scale-up team, drawing on my experience helping companies like Greensill, Brightstar, and a few other startups expand beyond their core markets. We work with founders to understand what has made their companies successful in their existing markets. Then we help them identify new territories that share that same market signature. From there we work with them to develop and implement a plan in these new geographies.
It’s not our role to tell founders what to do. Instead, we help them see what’s possible, and if they’re interested, we help them bring those possibilities to life. It’s a unique role for an investment firm to take, and I think we’re already seeing the results as more portfolio companies become global enterprises.