An Insider's comments on Japan's high tech business world

* * * * * * * * TERRIE’S TAKE – BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

General Edition Sunday, September 14, 2014, Issue No. 772


– What’s New — What Will Recruit Spend Its IPO Billions On?
– News — China tracing Japan’s footsteps to burst bubble?
– Web Content/Tech Job Vacancies — Community Manager position
– Upcoming Events
– Corrections/Feedback
– Travel Picks — Office veges in Tokyo, Studio Ghibli Architecture
– News Credits

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Back in 1998 when we started Japan’s first domestic online mid-career
recruiting portal,, there was only one other online
recruiter that we feared — Recruit. En Japan and the others didn’t
appear until a year or so later. Actually, for the record, Recruit was
the first company in Japan to set up an online recruiting site, one
that served fresh graduates (versus already-employed job seekers).
Second was a company out of California that focused on Asian
bilinguals, including Japanese, called Asia-net. And third, but which
was the first domestic firm to serve what is today the main market of
mid-career job seekers,

Back then, Recruit and other companies stayed away from mid-career
recruiting because it was considered dishonorable — both for the
people who were looking to change jobs, since they were considered to
be betraying their employers, and for the recruiters who were looking
for employee candidates. So, most recruiting media focused on
graduating students while anyone actually needing experienced
candidates would have to use “bottom feeder” foreign head hunters.
Needless to say, those foreign recruiters’ major clients were almost
always other foreign companies as most Japanese graduates didn’t trust
foreign employers, and furthermore Japanese firms felt that someone
headhunt-able from another company would in due course probably wind
up leaving them as well.

Basically the attitude was one job for life.

It’s amazing, then, to see what an incredible sea change in attitude
about recruiting and job seeking we’ve seen in the last 15 years.
Although Japanese firms still count on psychological peer pressure to
keep their employees loyal, they have now begun to embrace recruiting
in general and headhunting in particular as simply another part of
doing business. Of course, it helps if you have some moral basis as
well, as was the case of leading motor maker Nidec hiring Mikio
Katayama, the ex-CEO of Sharp. Nidec’s soon-to-be-retiring Chairman
and CEO Shigenobu Nagamori, ever the strategist in a fast-changing
market, said that he believed that Katayama deserves a second chance,
thus demonstrating how Nidec was helping Katayama out. In reality,
though, his hire was all about the fact that Nidec quickly needs to
segue into control electronics and other related technology and no one
at the top level of the company had the broad experience that Katayama

[Continued below…]

———– WILD TOUR KICKOFF 2014 ———————

Ever thought about raising venture capital in the USA rather than
Japan? It’s possible and we show you how. KOEI Company, Inc., LINC
Media’s U.S. affiliate, teamed with ARYS Company, Inc., one of Japan’s
leading startup coaching firms, has co-launched a brand new Silicon
Valley/San Francisco tour event for new start-ups, growth/mid-sized
companies from Japan ready to pitch their businesses on a unique
“one-on-one basis” to major VCs, incubators and startup CEOs based in
Silicon Valley.

Our “Wild Tour Kickoff 2014”, part of the larger Wildcard Incubation
Program, will be held during October, from the 12th – 19th, and we are
currently accepting participants based in Japan, who are willing to
take the challenge!

More info (Japanese) at: Contact:

[…Article continues]

So why is Recruit going public? The Nikkei reckons that there are
rumors that Recruit wants to do some major M&As. We think we can
safely rule out much of that happening in Japan, given that Recruit is
already the 800 lb gorilla in the media and service sectors it wants
to be in. Furthermore, Recruit is not the kind of company that goes
out and buys local competitors anyway. The company’s top management
are highly self-confident, and when they decide to jump into a sector,
as they did with their Ponpare service vs. GroupOn back in 2010, they
don’t go buy someone. Instead they allocate a full team of staff,
analyze what the competitor is doing, then make their own
interpretation of the business model — throwing cash and people at
the project in order to flood then own the sector. This strategy has
worked in most Recruit’s major domestic business sectors, but for
emerging businesses (such as daily deals), if the competition hasn’t
got the formula right, then probably Recruit won’t either. This is a
huge weakness on their part — copying and keeping projects in-house.

But when it comes to overseas business, it seems that Recruit has an
“alternative brain” and a diametrically opposed business strategy —
where it in fact does prefer to acquire high performing competitors,
then let those acquisitions stay relatively independent while they
continue to make money. For example, in 2012, Recruit spent the best
part of JPY100bn buying a jobs aggregator called We don’t
see this company much inside Japan, but abroad it is huge and is now
the largest jobs board globally. While Recruit has appointed some
Japanese managers to oversight the business, CEO-founder Rony Kahan
continues to run it and Recruit appears to be satisfied with that

So if the Nikkei is right and they are planning to do M&A, our guess
is that they will NOT do anything that majorly departs from their
existing businesses, and that the acquisitions are mostly going to
happen overseas. To us that means acquisitions in the recruiting,
housing, and travel sectors, where any number of potential candidates
come to mind. For example, in housing, Zillow in the USA would be a
good target. Although it would probably cost the better part of
US$5bn, an IPO here will give Recruit a valuation in the $40bn-$50bn
range (or more), meaning it will have ample assets to buy out Zillow.
Furthermore, Zillow’s main shareholders are willing sellers, such as
funds and savvy investors like Australia’s James Packer.

Another possible target would be, which is the second
largest jobs site globally, after Like Zillow, Monster is
also majority owned by various funds and other institutions, who would
no doubt be open to selling for the right price. The only thing is,
that although would be tempting, it doesn’t fill all the
check boxes that Recruit appears to need in an acquisition.
Financially, the company has been losing market share over the last 5
years, and several years ago was named one of the worst performing
major listed companies in the USA. Perhaps more importantly, Monster
also doesn’t have strong leadership. The co-founder/owner of the
company, who was its driving force through the 1990’s and early
2000’s, Andy McKelvy, unfortunately died of cancer in 2008 and the
company has been noticeably directionless ever since.

…The information janitors/


—— Social Innovation to Increase Food Security ——–

Are there really nearly 20 million people in Japan living below the
poverty line? Does Japan really destroy 3-5 million tons of perfectly
safe food each year? Is there really only one place in Tokyo where
needy households can access emergency food? We believe in a society
where anyone in need has access to safe, nutritious food. Join us and
other community leaders as we share our vision of using social
innovation to develop a food safety-net for those in need. This is an
opportunity for you to learn how together we can make a difference in

Cost: 3,000 yen (to cover drinks and food)
Time: 1930 ~ 2030 (doors open at 1900)
Date: October 15th (Weds)
Location: Shangri-La Hotel
Reservations can be made here:


+++ NEWS

– Great ski debate: Niseko versus Colorado
– China tracing Japan’s footsteps to burst bubble?
– Recruit planning to IPO
– Rakuten to launch airbnb style business?
– First iPS tissue surgery

=> Great ski debate: Niseko versus Colorado

You know that Japan has “arrived” as a ski destination when a national
newspaper overseas starts debating which destination is better —
Hokkaido or Colorado. In this case, the discussion was an article in
this week’s Sydney Morning Herald, and they listed up some great pros
and cons for each location. From what we can see, Hokkaido did pretty
well in the comparison, thanks to the writer’s preferences of low
prices (particularly for ski lift passes) and onsen. ***Ed: Yep, you
can’t beat the soothing waters of good night-time onsen after a day
out on the slopes.** (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 10,

=> China tracing Japan’s footsteps to burst bubble?

Interesting analysis from BoA Merrill Lynch, which says that the
Chinese economy may be on the verge of seeing its real estate bubble
bursting, in much the same way as Japan did in the early 1990’s. The
Merrill analysts say that China’s economy today resembles Japan’s of
1992, particularly in terms of an over-dependence on exports,
mountains of bad bank loans, sky-high real estate prices, and growth
mainly achieved through government stimulus. ***Ed: Although the
Chinese have the benefit of hindsight from the Japanese experience,
the Merrill team say the reason the government there hasn’t acted on
these problems is because of ongoing political infighting at the
highest levels. According to them, the government won’t be stable for
at least another year, which may be too late if the markets start
turning tide.** (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 10,

=> Recruit planning to IPO

Amidst a rising boom in the local stock markets, the major
shareholders in recruiting giant, Recruit Holdings Co., must be
breathing a sigh of relief that their formerly scandal-tainted company
has been rehabilitated enough to be able to announce an IPO. This
listing has been a long time coming, and the company has wanted to go
public a number of times in the last couple of decades, always pulling
up short of the start line. Recruit has said that its IPO will be next
month and will raise around JPY193bn, one of the biggest listings for
2014 in Japan. (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 10, 2014)

=> Rakuten to launch airbnb style business?

Another interesting news story, this time from Reuters, has it that
Rakuten is studying the Airbnb business model and its application in
Japan. Clearly they have realized that all those hordes of college
kids they will fly in on AirAsia need somewhere to stay. What we can
already tell them is that such a service will not be legal unless the
Abe government decides to change the rules. Currently zoning, body
corporate, and landlord laws are effectively making the room sharing
business an “underground” one, and one that could be shut down at a
moment’s notice by the police. ***Ed: Actually, we wonder why Rakuten
doesn’t just build a bunch of share apartments itself and be the
landlord. This is a great business, as the rapid expansion of Oak
House for foreign tourist rooms sharing already proves.** (Source: TT
commentary from, Sep 12, 2014)

=> First iPS tissue surgery

In a first for a documented medical procedure, researchers from Riken
have successfully implanted a sheet of regenerated retina cells into a
female patient in her 70s. The woman, who was suffering from macular
degeneration, is one of a number of test case patients whose own skin
cells have been transformed into iPS-generated eye-based pigment
epithelium material. The woman is still not out of hospital and there
is no word yet on what effect the surgery has had on her eyesight, so
the current announcement is more related to the fact that the surgery
itself is a milestone in medical treatment. (Source: TT commentary
from, Sep 12, 2014)

NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days
of posting them, thus breaking our links — we apologize for the



=> Are you in web content, sales, or engineering- If so, this section
is for you.


– Community manager‘s “special sauce” as a travel website is its
community. We are recruiting a bilingual person with an outgoing and
friendly manner to manage our 3,000-person community both in Japan and
abroad. The person will be involved in recruiting, contracting,
managing, and motivating the key leaders in the community, as well as
assisting with troubleshooting of downstream contributors and other
participants. Ability to multitask, show empathy, and yet maintain
discipline in terms of results are important attributes for this
position. Location of the job for the first 12 months will be in
Tokyo. Some travel around the country is also anticipated. JPY4M –
JPY6M base + incentives. We are interested in both Japanese and
foreign applicants. For language fluency, ability to listen, speak,
and read emails in your non-native language are necessary.

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:




————– BizDo Introduction Seminar —————–

Discover The Secret of Leadership Success : Gyoku Shin

On November 7th, during the height of Kyoto’s beautiful foliage
season, we will hold our next BizDo Introduction Seminar which
introduces the secrets of Leadership success hidden in the philosophy
and principles of the Japanese Martial Arts. This event is exclusively
for senior executives and only 20 seats are available.

To hear what other top Executives in Japan say about our Seminars and
to reserve your seat, visit:

————- Cancer Awareness in Ueno Park —————

“Relay For Life Tokyo Ueno” is a cancer awareness event that started
in the USA and has now spread to over 20 countries. Every year, more
than 4,000,000 people participate in this event. This event promises
to be lots of fun and will provide the opportunity for cancer
sufferers and advocates to come together and share their courage and
their laughter.

Even if you do not plan to participate in the 24-hour walkathon, you
are still welcome to come out and meet us, just to talk, distribute
information, or otherwise enjoy the festivities. Keep an eye open in
particular for Paul, one of the founders of Team “Over The Rainbow” —
Japan’s first melanoma patients association.

For more information about this event: (in Japanese).

—————— ICA Event – October 16th —————

Speaker: Rei Hasegawa, Head of Corporate Communications, Japan and
APAC Social Media at LinkedIn Japan
Title: “Branding You”
Details: Complete event details at

Date: Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. No
sign ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: By 10am on Monday 13th October 2014, venue is The Foreign
Correspondents’ Club of Japan



=> No feedback or corrections this week.



=> Sandwiched between towering skyscrapers in the heart of Otemachi’s
busiest intersection is the Pasona headquarters, draped in flowers and
lush green vines. Since 2010, Pasona’s ambitious urban farming project
has become one of the largest farm-to-table office schemes in Japan.
Looking more like a backdrop to a sci-fi thriller than a multinational
staffing firm, this conspicuous nine-storey building is home to over
two hundred species of plants, veggies, fruits and grains. While a
vegetable factory neatly lines the seminar halls, you have tomatoes
and chili vines dangling from the ceilings of temperature controlled
conference rooms. Surely even the earliest Monday meetings will be
pleasant ones!

Next time you are in Otemachi, stop by the ground floor cafe and have
a bite of Pasona’s fresh produce! The first three floors of the
farming area are open to the general public but just don’t go around
flashing your cameras too much, this is after all an actual office

=> A glimpse into the homes of your favorite characters, Tokyo

The latest Studio Ghibli production, “When Marnie Was There” made its
official theater debut this summer. Sadly, I’ll have to wait for the
version with subtitles. Marking the studio’s first film since
Miyazaki’s retirement back in 2013, the feature has been highly
anticipated by fans and critics alike.

In honor of the film’s release, The Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural
Museum has curated a retrospective of the elaborate and intricately
detailed architectures and interiors from Ghibli Studio’s fictional
universe. Everything from extensive scaled models to blueprints and
sketches from films dating back to the early 80’s will be showcased
from now until December 14th. Perhaps one of my favorite Ghibli Studio
exhibits to date, it is exceptionally thorough and thoughtful so
expect to spend at least 30-60 minutes to digest everything.



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