Small but growing numbers of Japanese entrepreneurs are jumping into the startup scene in northern California, particularly since the earthquake and tsunami last March. They include Naoki Shibata, who took the plunge by giving up the sort of life many Japanese in past decades spent their lives trying to attain.
Only 30, Shibata had an executive-level position at online retailing giant Rakuten Inc. and an assistant professorship at the prestigious University of Tokyo, where he earned a Ph.D. Last June he launched AppGrooves, an iPhone application discovery tool.
“I wanted a global company from the first moment,” he said. “If you want to reach a global market, then you have to start from Silicon Valley.”
Shibata and others say they are seeing a major uptick in Japanese entrepreneurs migrating to Silicon Valley or seriously contemplating a move, as their country struggles with two decades of economic stagnation and a rapidly shrinking and aging population.
Photo by Christian Rondeau