Prior to joining SoftBank, Yanni was at Deutsche Bank AG, where he held a number of leadership roles in London and New York. Most recently he served as Global Head of Fixed Income and Currencies. He holds an MSc in Finance and an MSc in Civil Engineering from Imperial College London and a BEng in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University College London.
- Cambridge Mobile Telematics
- CMR Surgical
- Repertoire Immune Medicines
- Tessera Therapeutics
You grew up in Greece, but your career took shape in London and New York. Why did you make that choice?
I went to university in London, where I studied civil and environmental engineering. I subsequently returned to Greece to do my military service, but I wasn’t ready to settle down and spend the rest of my life there. This was in the late ’90s, and it felt like the world was becoming smaller, with fewer barriers and more opportunities across borders. In that era of globalization, the finance industry was leading the way, so I moved back to London and ended up spending the next 20 years working in the global financial markets.
What was your focus within finance?
I specialized in helping businesses fund growth more efficiently and use financial markets to their advantage. I worked with a lot of companies that had been founded and run by brilliant people who were experts in their field but didn’t always have a sophisticated understanding of the available financial tools. Companies like these weren’t growing to their full potential. Either their capital structure was wrong—they had too much (or too little) debt—or they didn't effectively utilize the various tools out there to their advantage. Our job was to help them either get back on track or fund their next level of growth more efficiently.
How has that background prepared you for your current work?
One of the sectors I’m focused on now is fintech, which feels like a very natural next step. These are businesses that aren’t burdened with the bureaucracy and outdated architecture of traditional banks, so they can actually build their products and services around customer needs. That ability to accurately identify and respond to new use cases is step one. Step two—and the thing that makes some founders stand out—is the ability to act on the opportunity and execute on a plan. Those are the founders we’re working with here. Our job is to support, advise, and connect them to our ecosystem.
We’re seeing the next generation of disruption, and I think we’re about to see quantum leaps forward, fueled by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
What excites you most about your role at SoftBank Investment Advisors?
I believe the founders we work with have the potential to change daily life. We’re seeing the next generation of disruption, and I think we’re about to see quantum leaps forward, fueled by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The founders we’re working with see the potential of this emerging technology, and they’re already putting it to work to improve people’s lives.
Given the potential impact of the companies you’re working with now, what do you see in store for the future?
That’s something that I think about a lot. I have three young children, and I often wonder about the kinds of jobs they’ll be drawn to when they grow up. I’ve seen the pace of technological change, and I’m sure the skills and career paths that seem promising today will look very different in the future. That future is being written now. I don’t know what it will look like, but I’m excited to find out and play my part in helping to shape it.