Innovation Japan

Here is an interesting statistic I use in my entrepreneurial class, various speeches and eluded to at last Saturday’s MIT D-Lab event.  The statistics is from the BusinessWeek/Boston Consulting Group (BCG) World’s top 50 innovative companies for 2008.  Obviously, the main intent of this list is to rank the innovative companies for that year.  While the companies listed and the ranking itself may be debatable, I find this list useful in explaining the current state of Japan.  The slide I’ve created includes just the top 25 companies ranked in order.  On top of this, I’ve added the year each corporation was founded.

1. Apple 1976
2. Google 1998
3. Toyota 1933
4. GE 1892
5. Microsoft 1975
6. Tata Group 1868
7. Nintendo 1889
8. P&G 1837
9. Sony 1946
10. Nokia 1865
11. Amazon.com 1994
12. IBM 1920
13. RIM 1984
14. BMW 1916
15. HP 1939
16. Honda Motor 1946
17. Walt Disney 1923
18. General Motors 1908
19. Reliance 1966
20. Boeing 1916
21. Goldman Sachs 1869
22. 3M 1902
23. Wal-Mart 1945
24. Target 1902
25. Facebook 2004

Some interesting things that I find from this list to point out.  First, all four Japanese companies (hilighted in red) were all formed on or before 1946.  Second, about half the US companies on the list were formed AFTER 1975.  Finally, that most of the companies on this list were founded in times of recession or other financial crisis.
It might be interesting to compile the cap tables for these companies and see how the newer companies are valued (I’m guessing higher) relative to the older companies.  I guess the conclusions I’m coming here is how there hasn’t been any new Japanese companies in the top 25 for over 60 years.  In my class and various discussion sessions, we try to discuss why that is.  Perhaps a future blog entry. Your comments are always welcome.
William Saito
Special Advisor at Cabinet Office (Govt. of Japan)
Named by Nikkei as one of the “100 Most Influential People for Japan,” Saito began software programming at an early age and started his own company in high school. By the time he was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998 (by Ernst & Young, NASDAQ and USA Today), he was recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on encryption, biometric authentication and cyber security.

After selling his business to Microsoft, he moved to Tokyo in 2005 and founded InTecur, a venture capital firm and consultancy that identifies innovative technologies, develops global talent and helps entrepreneurs become successful. In 2013, Saito was appointed a Special Advisor to the Cabinet Office for the Government of Japan.

Similarly, in 2012 he served as a council member on national strategy for the Cabinet-level National Policy Unit, and prior to that, was named as the Chief Technology Officer for the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC). He is a Foundation Board Member at the World Economic Forum (WEF), and has been named by the WEF as both a Young Global Leader and Global Agenda Council member.

Saito also advises several national governments around the globe. In Japan, he has also served as an advisor to METI, MIC, MEXT, MLIT, AIST, IPA and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), among others.

He teaches at multiple universities, serves on several corporate boards, appears as a commentator on national TV and is the author of numerous publications in addition to writing a weekly column for a prominent Japanese business newspaper. His best-selling management book, The Team: Solving the Biggest Problem in Japan, was published by Nikkei BP in 2012, his follow-on book, Is Your Thinking up to Global Standards?, was published by Daiwa Shobo in late 2013 and his autobiography, An Unprogrammed Life: Adventures of an Incurable Entrepreneur, was published in 2011 by John Wiley & Sons.

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