The morning session on day two of the New Economy Summit in Tokyo opened with a panel on how companies can spur innovation, and it boasted an all-star panel of speakers:
- Matt Wilsey, entrepreneur and investor
- Akira Morikawa, CEO of Line Corporation
- Jerry Yang, Co-founder, AME Cloud Ventures
Morikawa-san started off the panel with an introduction to Line (which we have covered extensively, a service that has now reached 400 million users. From his perspective, regardless of the scale of your organization, everyone can create a disruptive business. The problem is that every organization has nay-sayers when you come up with a new idea, and that is typically the biggest obstacle when trying to executing.
Japanese people tend to follow a plan, and avoid changing it once it’s in place. So at his company, they make no detailed plan for the long term, and that helps their employees stay ready for unexpected changes based on user responses. He emphasized that it is not their management but rather their users who should decide if a new idea is good or bad.
Jerry Yang is best known as the founder of search giant Yahoo, but he’s currently working as an investor in Silicon Valley. His company, AME Cloud Ventures, has invested in over 50 startups, many of which are running data-driven businesses. He’s expecting huge potential in this sector since a big data methodology will enable any industry to rethink and rebuild things in our world. His strategy is based on an assumption/prediction about what will happen in the near future, and from there he decides what kind of startups to invest in.
In a response to the moderator’s  question about how to promote an entrepreneurial mindset at a company, Jerry explained there has to be a sense of urgency. Startups have obviously have it, but established companies also require it in order to make something new happen from the inside.
Matt noted that we can’t force anyone to be innovative. All we can do is create an environment that is friendly to innovation. Innovations typically happen in a place you’d never expect. And one of the biggest failures for companies when they have no time to create an environment or a culture that permits employees to try and fail.
The panel was moderated by Takeshi Natsuno, a professor at Keio University. ↩