SoftBank, the Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company that has invested in Israeli companies like co-sharing workspace firm WeWork and facial recognition firm AnyVision, has tapped ex-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to head the company’s new office in Israel, sources told Globes.
In this role, Cohen will manage the company’s overall operations in Israel, look for new investment opportunities, and help clients reach markets around the globe. He will also work closely with Yanni Pipilis, managing partner at SoftBank Vision Fund, and the rest of SoftBank’s team in Europe and the Middle East.
Despite his lack of experience in the field, Globes reported that Cohen was chosen because of his popularity in Israel, his expertise in international relations, and his deep connections with many Israeli entrepreneurs.
“Clearly, his relationship across Israeli industry and the ability to traverse international relations are effective to be able to essentially help connect these entrepreneurs globally with the AI ecosystem,” Pipilis told Globes, “When we invest in a company, we seek to introduce them to SoftBank’s network of more than 200 companies, helping them expand to new geographies, like Asia, Japan, and the Middle East. Mr. Cohen’s experience in dealing internationally is a huge asset.”
Founded by Masayoshi Son and headquartered in Tokyo, SoftBank is considered one of the largest venture capital firms in the world. SoftBank has invested in a number of major companies in the past, including Uber, Alibaba, and Tiktok and Israeli companies like Trax Retail and Innoviz Technologies. Going forward, SoftBank plans to invest in companies with valuations greater than $250 million that have developed or utilized high-level AI technology, according to Globes.
Much of Cohen’s role will be to spearhead this initiative in Israel. “SoftBank has pioneered a new approach to technology investing and created the world’s largest ecosystem of emerging technology champions,” said Cohen. “Israel’s advanced technology and entrepreneurial culture make it a natural fit for SoftBank’s investment vision and I look forward to helping fast-moving companies scale in the region and globally.”