Japan New Economy Summit: Panel on Innovation



At the Japan New Economy Summit, Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani moderated a panel on disruptive innovation. Participants included:

  • Andy Rubin (former SVP, Google)
  • Niklas Zennström (CEO, Atomico / Co-Founder, Skype)
  • Ben Silbermann (Co-Founder and CEO, Pinterest)
  • Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder and CEO, Square / Co-Founder of Twitter)

10:29 – Andy Rubin: It kinda surprises me that Android was so successful in Japan. Typically Japan and its culture has a broad understanding of ecosystems. i-mode was the first such ecosystem, and it was easy for OEMs and third party develoers to adopt Android from an ecosystem mentality.

10:34 – Did the Silicon Valley ecosystem help you? Ben: For me it absolutely was, but I don’t think that means you can’t start a company anywhere.

10:36 – Can disruptive innovation be sustainable long term? Andy: The industry is going to react to either compete or adapt. … As time goes on and new ecosystems are created, it’s the job of legacy organizations to be open minded. You can’t be close minded and expect to survive.

10:37 – Jack: I don’t actually like the word ‘disruption’. … I think the really successful companies are not disruptive by nature – though that may occur — but it’s a deep vision about what people want to use. It’s about being focused on building something you want to see in the world. It’s about recognizing these intersections ahead of us.

10:40 – Ben: Pinterest had a very poor start, but it was a better start than anything I had started before. Other people weren’t excited, but me and my friends were very excited that people were using things we had made. That’s a great feeling.

10:42 – Niklas: You need to be committed, and when people tell you its not going to work, you have to believe in what you do. It’s imporant to have co-founders and a strong team, so you can encourage each other in really difficult times.

10:43 – Advice to Japanese entrepreneurs:

Andy – A lot of times when doing business in Japan I hear Japan consumer is different, but I think its not that different.

Jack quotes William Gibson: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” You need to get it out of your head and build it. It goes back to what do you want to see in the world and why can’t this exist. It’s the easiest question to ask but the hardest to answer.

Ben: Imagine if people said to people who wanted to be doctors “Oh my god, what if you fail”. If you meet someone trying to success you should encourage them, that maybe they can go out and do it.

Niklas: You can find so many reasons why you shouldn’t do something. If it doesn’t work, so what? You have gained an experience and you have tried it. … Just go out and try things and don’t be afraid of failure because that’s the best learning experience. Think about building for the global market. Why develop for just domestic market? It’s important to learn foreign language and to travel (He cites his past travel experiences which widened his horizons and thinking.)