The Top 10: #4 Lydia Jett, partner, Americas, SoftBank Investment Advisers

Lydia Jett was promoted in March 2019 to a partner to oversee the Americas for SoftBank Investment Advisers, which manages the technology investment vehicle Vision Fund on behalf of Japan-based telecommunications and internet group SoftBank.

Regarding the unit, Jett was quoted as saying on Vision Fund’s website: “SoftBank Investment Advisers, driven by Masayoshi Son, shares a strong commitment to aggressive, expansionary thinking, and that gives us a unique alignment with our founders. We have the ability to see a broad landscape, across business models and geographies. It is our responsibility to bring those learnings, connections and support back to our portfolio companies to help them execute toward an even larger vision than they could on their own.”

SoftBank hired Jett in 2015, the year before Vision Fund was established, and she has been leading and managing investments on behalf of the corporate in areas including consumer internet, e-commerce, marketplaces, robotics and financial technology.

Concerning her duties, she said: “My role at SoftBank Investment Advisers provides an incredible learning opportunity. We are among the most active investors in the sectors where I focus – e-commerce as well as fintech and robotics – and we have a global mandate.

“That means our team can see how very similar-looking companies and business models evolve in extremely different ways based on their respective markets. We try to bridge learnings across these companies, which strengthens all of them. And on a personal level, it is just fascinating to watch economies, populations and countries develop and to look for ways to help accelerate that development.”

Jett sits on the boards of SoftBank portfolio companies such as online automotive marketplace and e-commerce platforms Tokopedia and Coupang. She was also a board member of India-based e-commerce marketplace Flipkart before it exited in August 2018 with a $1.5bn profit for the corporate. She is also a board observer for online sports memorabilia retailer Fanatics.

She said e-commerce is disrupting local economies everywhere, and added: “Many of the e-commerce founders we work with are fundamentally reshaping how the populations of their countries consume, and how small businesses form to serve them. These entrepreneurs are creating platforms that are bringing a significant amount of customers’ disposable income online. They are also creating income opportunities for local artisans who have been isolated from the national or international market. One of the founders we work with in Asia created a platform that has enabled the launch of over 100,000 small-to-micro businesses.

“That is incredibly exciting from an economic-development standpoint. And by changing the way merchants collect payments, our portfolio companies are changing how people access goods and services, which has lasting consequences for people’s expectations in other aspects of their lives and opens up a substantial opportunity for innovation in the market.”

Before joining to SoftBank, Jett spent six years as a vice-president at private equity firm M/C Partners, where she focused on communications, media and IT investments. She had previously held an associate role at investment bank Goldman Sachs and worked as an analyst at investment bank JP Morgan.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.