SoftBank Loses Global Head of Communications Gary Ginsberg

SoftBank Group Corp.’s global head of communications Gary Ginsberg has left the company after two years on the job, another in a string of high-profile departures.

Ginsberg resigned in December, a spokeswoman at SoftBank said, confirming the change that was never made public. Sarah Lubman, who was hired by Ginsberg in 2019 from Brunswick Group, has stepped in as acting chief of communications.

Masayoshi Son’s conglomerate has lost a number of senior executives over the past several months. Chief Legal Officer Rob Townsend and Chief Compliance Officer Chad Fentress both resigned last year, while Chief Strategy Officer Katsunori Sago is leaving at the end of March after less than three years at the company. The Vision Fund, SoftBank’s mammoth venture capital unit, recently lost two managing partners in Colin Fan and Jeff Housenbold, Chief Operating Officer Ruwan Weerasekera, and its head of investor relations Penny Bodle.

SoftBank shares dropped about 2% in Tokyo trading Wednesday and have climbed almost 30% this year.

Ginsberg, a former adviser to Rupert Murdoch, joined SoftBank in November 2018 to oversee all of the Japanese conglomerate’s external and internal global communications, reporting directly to Son and Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure. His job was also to help Son, who is known for his quirky presentation style, translate his message for overseas audiences.

The adviser took a two-month leave in 2019 to help advise the presidential campaign of Michael Bloomberg, owner of Bloomberg News.

SoftBank, which has long been a household name in Son’s native Japan, has only recently emerged as a global presence thanks to a string of massive deals. The company acquired U.S. wireless operator Sprint Corp. in 2012 in a $39.7 billion deal and U.K.-based semiconductor designer Arm Holdings for $31.6 billion in 2016. Then in early 2017 it launched the $100 billion Vision Fund, the largest pool of venture capital money ever assembled.

One of Ginsberg’s first jobs was to help shape Son’s response to questions about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia’s agents and his relationship to the country. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is the biggest investor in the Vision Fund with a $45 billion contribution and Son has a close relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Son likes to say that SoftBank is in the business of making people’s lives better through technology, but often struggles to articulate his vision without relying on clichés like the information revolution. One awkward video the company has used for years to explain its view of technology’s future opens with a blond man wandering among stone ruins. “Sorrow is inherent to the human condition,” he says, staring into the camera. “Since the beginning of time, humans have sought to overcome sorrow.”

Ginsberg has worked to sharpen the message, launching a global website and a series of more sophisticated videos that explain how SoftBank’s investments ranging from ride-hailing and office-sharing to solar power fit together. The company sponsored events in Washington, D.C. to raise its profile, though its head of government affairs who led the effort also left last year.

Ginsberg, a former White House lawyer under President Bill Clinton, is currently working on a book about little-known people who shaped American presidents. ‘First Friends’ is slated to come out in July.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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