Tag Archives: tokyo

Slush Tokyo 2017

slush tokyo 2017

We attended Slush Tokyo for the first time a few weeks ago.

This is was a very interesting experience.

We could get very valuable information about the Japanese startups scene in Tokyo.

Below is a digest ofsome notes taken during the event.

Allison Baum

Go global:

⁃ Because you will be able to access a bigger market
⁃ Because you will be able to optimize your operations


The 3 most important things when you do a startup:

⁃ Disrupting
⁃ The team
⁃ The vision

Carlos Ghosn

⁃ Diversity is a strength but it is difficult
⁃ Innovation is when you face adversity
⁃ Globalization is not going to stop
⁃ There is sometimes correction in big trends
⁃ The performance of the ceo should be measured in terms of the company’s revenues and profits
⁃ Look at the long term
- You want to innovate: propose an idea that nobody wants to listen to

Rapyuta Robotics

- You have to look at the market and the scalability of your technology
- 2 elements in order to be able to raise money:
- To have a very clear vision
- To have a great team
- They have a global team
- English is their main language

Karoli Hindriks of Jobbatical

- Bringing diversity inside the company helps grow the company
- Diversity is what makes Silicon Valley great

Taizo Son
- “IPOs are so 2015″

Maya Rogers’s panel discussion:

- If you want to grow your startup you need to focus on a problem and solve it but do not attract negative problems
- You need to be a doer (Execute)

There will be a huge demand for AI engineers very soon

Andy rubin

I attended NEST 2016, the New Economy Summit 2016, last week on the 7th and 8th of April, 2016.

The list of speakers can be found here.

NEST stands for Next Economy Summit Tokyo/Technology .

It was a very fruitful, instructive and entertaining summit.

Here, I would like to quote the statements from the speakers that left an impression on me.

Disclaimer: it is not the exact quote but I hope I got the right meaning of each statement.


Katsujin David Chao of DCM:

  • “The combination of AI and IoT is going to be very interesting.”

  • “Japan has been the biggest investor to India.”

  • On startups: “The window of opportunity for success has been shortened. That is why you need to raise much more quickly and a lot.“


Peter Bell of Highland Capital Partners:

  • On the sharing economy 1: “Incredible experience for the consumer.

  • On the sharing economy 2: “Ownership is not that important for teenagers.”


Sumant Mandal of March Capital Partners/Clearstone Venture Partners:

  • “The VC industry needs to be disrupted.”

  • Recommendation for entrepreneurs: “Do not listen to anybody.”


Taavi Rõivas, Prime Minister of Estonia:

  • On his own government: “We have zero bureaucracy.”

  • “People are the big brothers of the government.”

  • “The key for the future: to enable it”


Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics :

  • “Drones are the Internet of Things.”

  • “Drones are connected to the cloud.”

  • “Drones are the best way to manage the planet.”

  • “Japan’ strengths are cars, sensors, mechatronics.”


Shigenobu Kobayashi of Rakuten SmartPay:

  • On the credit card use: “Japan 18% compared to USA 50%.”


Katsuaki Sato of Metaps:

  • “We want to be the world’s brain.”


Yosuke Tsuji of Money Forward:

  • On virtual currencies: “The means for exchanging goods and services will be diversified.”


Daisuke Sasaki of Freee:

  • “Small businesses will become strong.”


James Gutierrez of Insikt:

  • On being an entrepreneur: “Every day you get bad news and you step back and you improve things and you pivot.”

  • “Brands are going to become the new banks.”


Ernestine Fu of Alsop Louie Partners:

  • On the opportunities of a messaging platform: “Food delivery, messaging, financial transactions, transportation can be offered by a messaging platform.”

  • Advice for being an entrepreneur:”Find your passion, get a good mentor, go for it, do not be afraid of failing.”


Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio Entertainment:

  • About Angry Birds’ original goal of getting 100 million downloads: “It was impossible but in fact it is easy.”

  • Advice for being an entrepreneur:”You do not think it is impossible. You have to believe in what you do.”


Andy Rubin of Playground Global:

  • About Playground Global: “Ideo + VC”

  • About the next computing platform over the next 10~15 years: AI

  • “In the future, engineers will learn how to program and how to train neural networks.”

  • “We no longer have linear programming. We have neural networks.”

  • “In 20 years, everyone will be a teacher.” (of neural networks)


Susumu Fujita of Cyber Agent:

  • “There is a surplus of money in Tokyo.”

  • “You need experience and know-how about how to move people in order to build a startup.

  • “What prevents the increase of startups in Japan is the low number of M&A. IPOs should not be the only possible exits.”


Yasukane Matsumoto of Raksul:

  • “There are only 1000 startups in Japan per year with 100 VCs. It is 100 times easier to raise funds in Japan than in India.”

  • “Innovation should not be an operations related problem solved by big corporations but it should be a technology issue only.”


Yoshikazu Tanaka of Gree:

  • “In Japan, the body of regulations prevents things like Uber for example.”

  • “In the US, first you do and then we tell you that you cannot do certain things. In Japan, first we tell you not to do things. If it is allowed, then you can start doing.”


Logan Green of Lyft:

  • “Our mission: to connect people with better transportation.”

  • “Transportation as a service.”

  • “A lot of jobs face automation.”

  • “Taxi sharing has created 100,000 jobs in the US.”

  • “Car sharing will cause a massive reshaping of cities.”

  • “General Motors provide the cars and the AI software. We provide the network.”

  • On the upcoming Tokyo Olympics: “There is gonna be a big surge for taxi needs.”

  • “Happy drivers → happy passengers.”

  • “Future is gonna be awesome.”


Juan de Antonia of Cabify:

  • “We need to be very collaborative with the regulators.”


Hiroshi Mikitani of Rakuten:

  • “There is the first mover advantage but I think there is also what I call the developed countries disadvantage.”

  • “Engineers are lacking in Japan.”

  • “There are only 20k Computer Science graduates per year in Japan.”

  • “Japan needs to get human resources from overseas.”

  • “Japan needs to reform regulations.”

  • “Japan has money and technology.”


From these quotes that made an impression on me, the following thoughts occurred to me:

  • Recruiting is as important as raising funds for a startup.

  • A startup needs to recruit the engineers that will be creating the next standards.

  • A startup needs to recruit engineers that can write bug-free code.

  • AI engineers, machine learning engineers and data scientists will be more and more crucial in the near future.

  • Combining smartphone, cloud and AI in a secure way is going to generate a lot of innovation and productivity gain for Humanity.


Overall, I think that Descartes Search, LLC, has a big role to play in this context and will definitively contribute to the creation of the next platform, the AI platform, by basically providing high class AI engineers, data scientists, machine learning engineers, data mining engineer or any engineer that can learn fast about how to train neural networks.

Especially not only we can help bring the high class engineers that can innovate and produce value for startups in Japan because we can communicate well with the engineers and assess their level based on our background in engineering and computer science, we can also bring the foreigners to Japanese startups, the ones that will be working more cost-effectively when Japanese engineers are lacking.

Japan has money and technology.

Descartes Search, LLC brings the right engineers to the right companies to Japanese startups.Finally, Descartes Search, LLC deals already with data scientist positions or machine learning/data mining engineering related positions.

For example:


Please do not hesitate to visit our home page and our list of hot job opportunities that are centered around Tokyo and software engineering jobs if you happen to be looking for a job right now.

Engineers are not necessarily interested in a full time job…

I feel that there are more and more engineers that are not looking necessarily for a full time job.
More and more engineers are flexible regarding their employment contract.
As a recruiter, compared to last year, I see now a higher number of engineers who are more interested in a contractor contract or even a freelancer contract, instead of a full time employment contract.
Several reasons for that.
One being that some engineers want to be able to take part into several projects at the same time. For those, a freelancing contract is necessary.
Another being that some engineers get bored quickly and want to change their work environment regularly. For those, a 6-month contract is suitable.
Another being that some engineers want to have a better compensation. Full time employment involves social benefits that cost money for the company. Social benefits are not included into the package of a freelancer. Thus a freelancer can get a higher cash compensation, usually.
We, at Descartes Search, LLC, are dealing more and more with job opportunities whose work type is not “full time”.
If you are looking for an interesting job, in Tokyo, especially if you are an engineer, please feel free to browse the list of our hot job opportunities that you can find here.

Besides the desire for more flexibility regarding the employment contract, I see more and more engineers that are looking to create their own startups instead of looking to get a job at an existing company.
For those engineers, I would recommend to get in touch with BunkerSofa, LLC, the sister company of Descartes Search, LLC.
Recently, BunkerSofa, LLC has pivoted to focus on supporting startups in Tokyo, helping them raise funding and recruit early stage members…

New industries in need of innovative engineers will emerge soon in Tokyo

Hi there.

This is a blog post to explain my view on the areas that will see a tremendous demand for engineers in Tokyo soon.


1) Virtual realities

It seems that the social games field is dying in Japan. Recruiting engineers in social games has become very tough.
Several possible reasons for that:

- tighter budget
- more competition among companies to get talented engineers
- no real roadmap for building the next generation games

It seems that there is a trend to build native smartphone games, using cocos2d or unity3d or similar tools. So there is at least a shift from console games to smartphone games.

The reasons causing that shift are the fact that smartphones can now render games that can rival the quality of consoles and the actual cost of the games on smartphones: it is cheaper to download a game from iTunes than buying a console game.

But such smartphone games do not bring new innovation compared to consoles. The realistic rendering of the game itself is not superior than console games.

So that brings us to the next generation of games with Oculus Rift. This will be actually the next trend in the games industry, I believe: games that bring an immersive experience to players.

Therefore, I believe we will see a shift from smartphone games to immersive games soon. And this will extend to virtual realities, not necessarily linked to entertainment, but also to shopping or education….or any other relevant fields.

The consequence of that is that there will be a need for engineers that can deal with 3d graphics, accelerometer, sensors, run-time programming etc, in short any technology involved by such immersive reality.


2) Crypto-currencies

The next field that will see a lot of demand for engineers is the payment industry starting with mobile payment.
We can see that already through companies dealing with credit card payment on mobile on the one hand and companies that enable payment with 0-fee on the other hand.

Besides, Facebook has recently applied for an e-payment system license in Ireland, that would enable users to directly pay with Facebook dollars (we can imagine so) inside the Facebook ecosystem.

At the same time, it seems that Apple will be releasing soon a payment system bypassing credit card companies within iTunes.

Furthermore, Square has recently accepted payment via bitcoins for their e-commerce service (Square Market).

That brings us to crypto-currencies. It is no secret that bitcoins have had a lot of media exposure recently with its astronomical  rise in 2013. It has since that lost more than 50% of its value but it is very resilient.

Other crypto-currencies have gained exposure too, such as litecoins and peercoins, to name just a few.

The VC community of SV has started invested a lot into bitcoins and crypto-currencies related businesses, funding new exchanges and payment processors.

In Japan, after the Gox debacle, no solid successor for the defunct exchange has shown up yet but it is a question of time.

It seems that some famous American exchanges are planning to come to Japan soon.

It seems also that some Chinese exchanges have already created their Japanese subsidiaries.

Besides, OKCoin, the biggest crypto-currency exchange (bitcoin and litecoin) in terms of trade volume in the world, seems to be interested in a plan that would rehabilitate MtGox.
In that scenario, OKCoin would put 1m USD out of its own pocket to become a co-owner of the prospective new exchange.

Furthermore, the crypto-currencies field is slowly getting traction in Japan. That would certainly accelerate over the coming months, I believe.

The consequence of that is that I predict that there will be a tremendous demand for software engineers and Web developers knowledgeable in crypto-currencies and cryptography, capable of implementing secure infrastructures and rapid interfaces for user-friendly exchanges and payment processors.

To conclude, virtual realities combined with crypto-currencies would provide consumers with a totally new realm of experiences.
For example, we could see the creation of new services in which users would do their shopping at a virtual store (instead of a static e-commerce web page involving “links” and “clicks”) and pay on the spot, immediately, without using a credit card, via crypto-currencies, with no possible charge-back for the seller.

This would be a totally new field where innovation would flourish, further increasing the need for innovative engineers in the world, including Japan.