Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to head SoftBank’s Israel operations

Appointment comes a month after he retired from spy agency; bank tells Globes it plans to capitalize on his local and international connections

Head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen speaks at a cyber conference at Tel Aviv University on June 24, 2019. (Flash90)
Head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen speaks at a cyber conference at Tel Aviv University on June 24, 2019. (Flash90)

Yossi Cohen, who retired as head of the Mossad last month, will be appointed as the director of Israel operations for Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank, Globes reported on Friday.

The SoftBank Group is a leading holding firm that primarily invests in companies operating in the technology, energy and financial sectors.

“SoftBank has pioneered a new approach to technology investing and created the world’s largest ecosystem of emerging technology champions,” Cohen told Globes. “Israel’s advanced technology and entrepreneurial culture make it a natural fit for SoftBank’s investment vision and I look forward to helping fast-moving companies scale in the region and globally,” he added.

SoftBank Vision Fund managing partner Yanni Pipilis told Globes that “when we met Mr. Cohen, we immediately got excited about the opportunity to work together. He is very well connected in the Israeli industry at large, he is someone that entrepreneurs and founders can recognize and can be a central focal point for us.”

“Clearly, his relationship across Israeli industry and the ability to traverse international relations are effective to be able to essentially help connect these entrepreneurs globally with the AI ecosystem,” Pipilis added, referring to the company’s artificial intelligence technology.

Cohen, 59, was recruited by Mossad at age 22 when studying overseas in London, rising through its ranks to become its chief after a short stint as National Security Council chief.

Cohen, known as ‘the model’ inside the agency, had an unusually public persona for an Israeli spy chief even as he oversaw operations against Iran’s nuclear program and helped guide Israel’s clandestine ties with Arab nations.

Related: In a stunning, revelatory interview, ex-Mossad chief warns Iran, defends Netanyahu

Cohen, who was appointed by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he does not rule out seeking to become prime minister one day, though he wasn’t contemplating such an ambition at the moment.

He stepped down as head of the Mossad on June 1 after more than five years in the job. He was replaced by David Barnea.

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