How Marcelo Claure, SoftBank’s Former COO, Is Planning to Spend His Billions

How Marcelo Claure, SoftBank’s Former COO, Is Planning to Spend His Billions

Marcelo Clare has a fortune of $2 billion at his disposal which is the largest for any Bolivia.

Marcelo Clare is perhaps best known in the world of higher finance as the hulking deputy of SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son. More specifically, the man who ran the cleanup job at the investment firm’s most spectacular debacle, WeWork.

Mr. Claire, standing at a height of 6-foot-6 (2 m), is set to be known for something else: a major investor in his own right.

It’s a tougher challenge than just six months ago, when he left SoftBank following a controversial split from Mr Son, his lifelong mentor. Not only has the Japanese firm’s falling valuations of investments cast a shadow, but those working closely with Mr. Claire say he is a skilled operator when it comes to picking winners.

Nevertheless, he has a net worth of $2 billion which is the largest for any Bolivian since “Tin King” Simon Ituri Patino. To deploy his personal wealth, Mr. Claire formed a family office, the Clare Group, and has ambitions to eventually open it up to outside funding as well.

“We invest in real estate, technology, in gaming, we will invest in crypto, public, private and seed funding,” Mr. Claire, 51, said in a May interview with Bloomberg Linea. “It’s a combination of everything.”

Family offices have increasingly become the platform of choice for other acts of wealthy investors. The vehicles, which manage the personal capital of the ultra-rich, are lightly regulated, agile, and as public or private as the founders want. They can also offer a shot at reinvestment for those in the shadow of major owners or those who were mired in regulatory or performance problems.

Hedge-fund founder Dan Ochs’ fortune grew more than $1 billion by investing through his family office, Willoughby Capital, after Ouch-Ziffe Capital Management exited in the wake of a foreign bribery scandal.

magic sauce

Founders may look to select outside investors to open their firms to gain scale or to defray costs.

“I’ve seen a lot of occasions where a family sets up a family office and they either over-make it or think they’ve got the magic sauce and say ‘Hey, I can open this up to family and friends. Because I’m so good,'” said Sammy Dweck, CEO of Family Office Doctor. “It’s an idea that works—when you have a track record.”

For Mr. Claire, the valuations of many of the companies incubated in SoftBank’s Vision Fund are undermining their performance records in the wake of the global technical slowdown. The Japanese conglomerate lost a record 2.1 trillion yen ($15.4 billion) for the quarter ended March.

Mr. Claire may be able to erase that stigma. At SoftBank, he was mostly in charge of operations, tasked with helping the companies in the Vision Fund and become profitable.

When Mr. Son approached him in 2013 to join SoftBank and lead its new acquisition, Sprint, investing was not Mr. Claire’s specialty. Mr. Claire was then running a successful telecommunications equipment distributor he had founded and had grown into the largest Hispanic-owned business in the US.

crisis averted

To sweeten his job offer, Mr Son agreed to buy most of Mr Claire’s business, Brightstar, for $1.26 billion. Mr. Claire propelled Sprint to profitability and, through its merger with T-Mobile, pulled off a $22 billion stake by SoftBank that could have been fatal for the Japanese firm had Sprint gone bankrupt.

What Mr. Son saw in Mr. Claire was a staunch entrepreneur with similar skills in business operations. Investing information, on the other hand, was his acknowledged weakness. “You suck at investing,” Clare is said to have told Son before inviting him to oversee the Vision Fund’s operating companies and move to Tokyo to learn first.

“He’s a very talented businessman—he’s really an operator, an entrepreneur, much more than an investor by nature,” said Niccol de Masi, chief executive officer of DMY Technology Group, who worked with Mr. Claire. De Masi said when his former company, Essentials, partnered with Sprint. ,

As Chief Operating Officer of SoftBank, Mr. Clare worked with an assortment of startups within SoftBank’s portfolio, from robot builder Boston Dynamics to chipmaker Arm. Mr. Clare took over as chairman of WeWork in 2019, when its valuation fell after a failed initial public offering. (It eventually went public in October through a special purpose acquisition company.)

Mr. Claire, a US citizen who primarily lives in Miami, was exposed to hundreds of startups during his time at SoftBank. This probably shaped his generous personal investments, as did his extensive background.

world traveler

Born in Guatemala to Bolivian parents, he grew up around the world due to his diplomatic father’s stations, which included Morocco and the Dominican Republic. After graduating high school in La Paz, Bolivia, he attended Bentley College outside Boston, where he began his first venture, trading airlines frequent flyer miles. Their second, Brightstar, emerged from a cellphone shop offering a buying opportunity.

Those who know him describe a tireless work ethic. Among the poorest countries in Latin America, Bolivia’s GDP is only 20 times bigger than Mr. Claire’s personal wealth.

Miguel Armaza, a venture investor and Bolivian partner, said, “Coming out of a country like this and coming to America with unlimited opportunities, you have a chip on your shoulder that pushes you. No doubt he has something.” ” Joe met Mr. Claire through his podcast. “You have seen different realities.”

“Anyone who knows me knows that I work too hard—I don’t tolerate mediocrity,” Mr. Claire told WeWork’s Shellshock employees, following a leaked transcript of her first all-hands meeting with the office. according. “Every company I’ve run has done well so far.”

Mr. Claire’s time under the tutelage of the hyperkinetic Mr. Son is evident in what he has revealed about his personal investments. Tech, unsurprisingly, is a focus: According to documents seen by Bloomberg, he has invested directly in startups, along with venture capital funds. He also has stakes in crypto, hedge funds and real estate, and last year sold the Miami Beach mansion to Apollo Global Management co-founder Josh Harris for $32.3 million.

Earlier this year, he started Claire Capital, a division within his family office that will focus on public and private investments. Through other vehicles, he plans to invite outsiders to engage in exclusive deals and — after his non-competition with SoftBank ends — raise a fund that others can invest in. On his own, he has stakes in the digital mortgage-servicing platform Valone, the cybersecurity firm and the Aprende Institute, an online education platform for Latin America and its community founded by his brother Martin.

Those who have worked with him suspect that his operational experience means he will be inclined to take bigger bets, where he can make more impact.

fortune building

Mr. Claire’s fortune originated with Brightstar, the telecommunications-equipment provider he founded and later sold to Son, but his time at SoftBank further enriched him. In addition to salary—he received 1.8 billion yen in fiscal 2020—he built a $680 million stake in Sprint and sometimes personally invested in startups offered at SoftBank, as the New York Times reported last year. did.

Still, Mr. Claire’s fortune is dwarfed by Son’s net worth, which, even after falling 30% this year, is valued at $14.1 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Mr. Claire’s demands for better compensation eventually led to his departure in January.

According to a SoftBank filing last month, his exit package included 4.6 billion yen and another 8.1 billion yen in stimulus linked to the performance of Vision Fund’s Latin America Fund. Those potential payments put it in the orbit of SoftBank, as it received a $515 million loan in 2020 to buy Sprint shares. The balance is due in 2024.

Even for the most famous money managers, it’s a tough time raising money. Rising inflation and bearish markets, especially for tech, have investors concerned about the deployment of cash. According to a report by SVB Capital and Campden Wealth, after more than a decade of steady growth, wealthy families managing their own money are withdrawing from venture investments.

Mr. Claire will rely on his extensive experience in the trenches with startups to turn potential co-investors into strong returns from his familiarity with the founders and day-to-day business.

For now, he is developing the lifestyle of a billionaire. His Twitter feed is a torrent of provocative messages and snapshots from glamorous locales like Tenerife, Aspen, Positano and St. Tropez.

A passionate football fan, he is the owner of a stake in professional Bolivian team Club Bolivar and Girona FC of Spain. His first official job after graduating from college was leading the business operations of the Bolivian Football Federation just before the team qualified for the World Cup.

“I was blessed,” he said of the team’s impossible success years later in an interview with Babson College. “It taught me that anything was possible.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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