Joi's Diary

Back to Contents of Issue: August 2000

Eventually We'll Realize We Shouldn't Spew Our Data Into Cyberspace

by Joichi Ito

Joichi Ito is the founder and CEO of Neoteny (, an IT investment and operating company. He has created numerous Internet companies, including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage, and Infoseek Japan. In 2000, he was ranked among the "50 Stars of Asia" by Business Week and commemorated by the MPT for supporting the advancement of IT.

• Had a meeting with Oki Matsumoto of Monex about how he figured out and got approval for a method to get around the ¥50,000 par value stock issue and allow companies to issue as many shares as they want. Monex will be helping companies do this and will also be helping them let the shares be sold to online customers to create diversity and liquidity.

• Saw Hiroshi Mikitani for the first time since the IPO of his company, Rakuten, soared to a multibillion dollar valuation. He seemed quite the same: confident, happy, practical. I think he's one of the first MBA types to successfully build and take public a Japanese Internet company. Most Net outfits in Japan had been sales/cashflow-driven with CEOs who had more street smarts than education, and I think many had doubts as to whether consultant/banker/MBA types could really build companies.

• Participated in the first meeting of the MITI study group on corporate statute and what needs to be changed to help venture businesses and the New Economy move forward. Mr. Norihiko Ishiguro, the trailblazing section-head of the Industrial Policy Bureau, was the force behind this study group. He's pushing forward very important changes in some of the legacy corporate practices and statutes that are holding us back. Recently he made a new law that allows certain companies in new business sectors to be exempt from some of the more menacing legacy regulations. (Neoteny was one of the first companies to receive this exemption/approval.) This new study group is an attempt to make changes generally. I think everyone should back Mr. Ishiguro in this effort since it's a rather valiant attempt to move things forward and will inevitably get a lot of push-back from some of the more conservative elements in the Japanese bureaucracy.

• Had dinner with my sister, Keiko Ochiai, and Kotaro Yamamoto and talked about the women's movement in Japan, as well the organic foods movement. Ms. Ochiai is well known for her shop Crayon House, which has tons of cool stuff about child rearing, as well as a bookstore with very progressive women's books. Listening to Keiko and her friends talk about the community gave me confidence that the consumer-activist and women's communities were alive and well in Japan, and that by using the Net they could expand their reach to really make an impact on society.

• Went to Zenginkyo (The All Japan Bank Association) to have them disclose my public credit records to me to try to figure out why I had trouble getting a new credit card. They told me that my credit record was clean. Later, I went digging through my less official routes and found that the credit card companies had records about the purchasing patterns of my housemates and that this was impacting my credit. This made me even more confident about my prediction that eventually people will realize they don't want to spew their data into cyberspace for any large entity to compile profiles from. Privacy will be one of the most important issues over the next few years.

• Spent a day with Frank Boosman and Steven Sakoman of Be Inc. They showed us their Internet appliance prototypes, which were extremely impressive. They're getting a lot more traction in this space than they had in the desktop arena. They have a shot at becoming the OS of choice for Net appliances, as well as for home broadband stuff.

• Had a meeting with my contact at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, superintendent Hirotsugu Mikami, "the man" at the High Tech Crime Response Group. He has spun up a sizable team and tells me they are quite busy these days. The difficulty from the policing side is that the police are divided into prefectural stations, managed by the National Police Agency, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, which actually has the most resources. It's often difficult for the police to know the physical location of a crime, and currently the Tokyo Metropolitan Police have to manage investigations in other prefectures. So the next time a hacker breaks into your fortress and transfers all your money to a Bahaman Bank account, don't call your local koban, call superintendent Mikami.

Note: The function "email this page" is currently not supported for this page.