Japanese investment giant SoftBank has hired Facebook executive Kirthiga Reddy as a venture partner for its $100 billion Vision Fund. In her new role, she will work closely with Deep Nishar, senior managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, and will be based in San Carlos, California.
“After over seven years at Facebook — starting as the first employee and managing director for Facebook India and the last two years at HQ as managing global client partner and emerging markets lead — I am thrilled to join SoftBank Investment Advisers as their first venture partner,” Reddy wrote in a post on Facebook.
“I look forward to bringing my technical and business expertise — from both enterprise and consumer technology, in developed and emerging markets — to the Vision Fund team… I am excited to be working closely with Deep Nishar on frontier technologies — AI, robotics, health tech, bioengineering, semis, IoT, quantum computing, and more — that will enable the next stage of the information revolution,” her post read.
The announcement follows the appointment of Sumer Juneja to head the India arm of SoftBank’s Vision Fund, and suggests strengthening of the top deck as the world’s largest investor continues on a steady pace of multi-million dollar deals across the world.
Reddy is a technology executive with over two decades of experience in India and the US. She was the first employee at Facebook India back in 2010, and is credited for cementing the social media firm’s operations in the country.
She left the top position at Facebook India in early 2016 and moved back to the company’s headquarters at Menlo Park, California.
An alumnus of Stanford Graduate School of Business, Reddy has worked with Motorola in the past and currently serves as a chair and board member at her alma mater.
She is the first woman to be hired at a senior position by SoftBank Investment Advisers, which is managed by a handful of senior executives mostly based in London.
Launched in October 2016, the Vision Fund has invested over a billion dollars each in companies like Uber, WeWork, Bitmain Technologies and Didi Chuxing.
In India, its major bets include Oyo, Flipkart, Ola and Paytm. Till date, SoftBank has invested about $8 billion in India, some of which were made prior to the setting up of the Vision Fund, but have been subsequently transferred to the $100-billion fund. SoftBank recently reaped a handsome return from divestment of its stake in Flipkart, making a 60 per cent gain on its $2.5 billion investment in the company in under a year.
With Reddy’s induction, SoftBank will gain insights and hands-on experience in emerging markets, a key focus area for global investors.
At the fag end of her stint at Facebook, Reddy worked closely with some of the most strategic global advertisers for Facebook on their emerging markets strategy, with a focus on Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Middle East and South Africa.
Reddy built out the culture at Facebook India and was responsible for some of the core hires, including the first sales team, at the local unit, a former Facebook India employee said, requesting anonymity.
“Also as MD, her role was to lead sales, but now with the new India head, Ajit Mohan, the profile has changed as all functions including policy, operations and even communications report into him,” the person added.
At Facebook India, Reddy’s stint ended at a tumultuous period for the social media giant. While Facebook users in India grew multi-fold under her, ad sales were floundering especially in comparison to Internet rival Google.
Moreover, in February 2016, India’s telecom regular disallowed Free Basis, an important project for Facebook aimed at getting first-times Internet users to use a highly curated and restricted version of the Internet.