Michael Ronen has gone from investor to entrepreneur and back again. During which he helped the massive Vision Fund, and raised over $100M for his own venture.
During his appearance on the Dealmakers Podcast, Ronen talked about the top three traits of the best leaders and CEO, managing huge funds, capital, and economic cycles, and being able to turn a $1B profit on a single investment in just two years.
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Steering Lasting Companies Through The Economic Rollercoaster
Michael Ronen was born in Israel. He grew up in a challenging time for the region, and close to a local air force base. Which definitely piqued his interest in becoming a pilot himself.
Right out of high school, Ronen joined the Israeli Air Force Intelligence Forces. He had grown up through times of conflict. Which he says provides a level of resilience and strength, that many haven’t been forced to develop growing up today.
That was built on his time in the military. At 18 years old you are thrown into completely new situations. Often where you just have to figure it out yourself. Where decisions don’t just mean the difference of dollars, but people’s lives, and even the security of the whole country.
Michael says his mother really wanted him to have a professional career. That took him to law school. A field that he believed would give him some perspective on business.
After practicing as a lawyer in Tel Aviv for two years he saw that most of the work they got to touch was once all the dealmaking had been done.
There was managing risk in the documents. Though what he really wanted to do was to be involved in the phase where businesses are being built and the transactions are being set up.
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Making Partner At Goldman Sachs
Ronen says that he had always wanted to come to the US and become more involved in the business. Which ended up with him landing at Goldman Sachs in NY. Eventually becoming a partner there.
He says that every time he began thinking about doing something else with his career the job was made more interesting, got bigger, and was moved up the ladder. That lasted for 20 years.
Much of that time was focused on TMT (Telecom, Media, and Tech). While they may be very different industries, he saw that they would all be disrupted by new technology. Such as moving to broadband, then wireless, and now AI.
He saw how some big companies would fail to evolve and would go bankrupt. While others would embrace change and survive, and become very influential over time. Such as Google, Apple, and Spotify.
Michael also experienced the economic cycle as it turned through the first internet bubble, the 2008 Great Recession, and what’s happening more recently.
The Top 3 Traits Of Successful Leaders
Of the CEOs and business owners leading their companies to success over the long term Michael offered three traits they share.
His big takeaway from those that were successful versus not is how the winners are able to benefit from the upswings and limit risks when the downturns come.
First, he says that these leaders lead by example. They know that their teams will copy their behavior. So, they must model the culture they want. They must do it visibly, and if they want it to continue, to align that with their hiring. Hiring top-down, and letting that continue to be passed down.
The second is to clearly articulate your vision for the company. You may have to get through the mundane grind sometimes, but keeping your team focused on that big vision will be critical in the outcome.
Then, thirdly it is about keeping a steady hand on the wheel. Compared to investing, he says that founding and running a company is much like taking a motorbike off road and managing the bumps at great speed while keeping your eye far ahead on the path.
Being able to see what’s coming, to keep steering, and to maintain your balance.
Taking The Leap
Michel Ronen took his first real leap when he left Goldman Sachs. He was pulled in by Masayoshi Son, who wanted him to help manage Softbank’s Vision Fund. A $100B fund that has minted many unicorns. He did that and made some spectacular investments.
Yet, ultimately the draw of being involved in building a company of his own proved too much to ignore. So, launched his own venture Branded.
A company that began acquiring small brands that were selling online, and fueling them to greater success. After raising $100M in funding, getting it to being profitable, and becoming a more mature company Michael says that he was ready for his next challenge.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Michael Ronen was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
While he is still involved with guiding and helping Branded, he is now looking to leverage all of his experiences on both sides of the table to now build an investment firm of his own. One which does not just enable him to invest, but create something bigger than himself, and that will last for the long term.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Billion dollar investments
- Investing versus building an investment firm
- Starting and managing a company during a crisis