TT-585 -- A Tribute to Jim Adams, e-biz news from Japan

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A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, October 10, 2010. Issue No. 585.


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On Friday, October 1st, long-time resident of Tokyo, Jim
Adams, died at his Orange County, California home, of a
heart attack. Jim was the beloved husband of Tomoko and
father of Ashely, and close friend of many of us still in
Japan. I received a call from Tomoko and Ashley who were
going through Jim's contact list, and trying to get the
message out to his friends about what had happened.

Jim was a particularly good friend. I first met him while
he was working for Morgan Stanley back in early 1990, just
shortly after he'd been hired by the bank's Tokyo office
as an IT manager, tasked with looking after delivery of
maintenance services to users. My company had just won a
breakthrough contract with Morgan Stanley, to supply a new
type of service which today is called Outsourcing. Back
then it didn't have a name.

Jim was clearly different from many people that you met at
that time in banking. Given that the foreign banks were a
lot smaller then, and Japan was at the peak of the bubble,
skills in managing people played a smaller role in the big
scheme of things than did strategy and raw money making.
Everyone was very hyper and testosterone flowed freely. I
found Jim to be one of the few people who had time for
the human side of the business, and I was to see his
humanity at work many times over the following years.

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[...Article continues]

Indeed, Jim had a reputation for looking after both his own
people and those around him very well. I occasionally heard
snippets of how he would sometimes cross swords with others
in the bank, to ensure that the right thing was done and
that expediency wasn't the only yardstick. He was
particularly good at nurturing people, and instituted many
training programs that helped people both career-wise and

Jim also played fair with his vendors, and typical of his
friendship was one particular incident that I will never
forget. At the time we'd been supplying engineers to Morgan
for about six months and things were going well, but back
at our own office the pressure was on. We were growing far
too quickly, although there were only 10 of us then, and we
were having a hard time carrying the expanding cash flow
needed to employ all the extra engineers that we needed.
People got paid, but there certainly wasn't anything left

A certain competitor, who was completely caught off guard
by our new outsourcing service, and who couldn't get the
engineers (ours came from a completely new source -- India
and no one else could compete), decided to start a rumor
that we were in financial straits and were about to go out
of business. It wasn't true, but mere whispers of financial
difficulties can kill an emerging business relationship
dead. Jim kindly warned me that these rumors were
circulating and counseled me that I should try to figure
out a way to address them before Morgan Stanley was forced
to do something about it. This was my first taste of
business warfare Japanese style.

As it turns out I was able to enlist the help of another
local foreigner who has since departed us, Roger Boisvert,
and he was able to confirm that we could use a new
technical service he'd started using, called e-mail.
Between him and Jim, we were able to identify dozens of
email users in Tokyo, who not unnaturally were almost all
IT managers -- few others had access or interest at that
time, and who were the exact people we needed to reach.

Roger helped draft the email and sent it out on my behalf,
stating that the rumor was unfounded, whereupon it quickly
faded. My company went on to become a leader in the
outsourcing field in Tokyo and was eventually sold to EDS
in 1995. Interestingly, that email may have been one of
the first unsolicited emails sent in Tokyo...

Another event that highlights Jim's humanity was when in
1993 or so, I had noticed that the bank kept all its
obsolete PCs down in the basement of the building until
they came off lease -- there were hundreds of them in
perfectly good but old condition. I asked Jim if we could
take those machines that had reached their lease-expiry
date and donate them to villages in India. He checked and
was told it was too much bother, for both security reasons
and paperwork.

However, Jim became quite passionate about the project and
went in to bat for us, offering management that he would
give up valuable personal time to help with the tedious
weekends of cleansing of hard disks and loading machines on
to waiting trucks. We eventually got the nod, and together
in the Morgan Stanley garage we loaded and shipped several
hundred PCs.

Somewhere in India, I'd like to think that hundreds if not
thousands of people in the computer field got their start
thanks to those machines and Jim's tireless generosity.

The 1990's were a productive time for Jim Adams. He
gradually migrated from IT management to HR, and found his
true calling -- the nurturing and mentoring of others. He
was always working on some training program or helping
people out in trouble. He was particularly useful in the
frenetic banking environment, and as a true gentleman could
arbitrate flare-ups and soothe ruffled feathers. He was
also able to carry out the occasional firing or lay-off
with grace, and I don't think he ever made any enemies.

In 2003, as the icy grip of the dotcom bust was really taking
hold, once again I needed Jim's help. This time it was
because the rapid decompression of the dotcom sector
had severely impacted my IT business. Jim was getting to
be an "old-timer" at Morgan Stanley and decided
to take advantage of an early retirement program. In
so-doing, he offered to come and help my team get
themselves straightened out. He took a huge cut in salary,
and took a drastic lifestyle change -- we were a rather more
raw end of the IT industry. :-)

Within weeks he started working his magic and quickly had
won the trust of a team that was still smarting from our
own lay-offs. Things continued to be difficult for another
18 months, until the economy started to turn upwards again
in mid-2004. During that period, though, I had the pleasure
of seeing Jim most days, smiling, encouraging those around
him, and firefighting whatever problems came his way. He
was very much the ideal business partner, for which I am
eternally grateful.

Jim's passion outside of looking after his work team was
tennis and his lovely wife Tomoko and daughter Ashley. On
Mondays I would always get an update of how Ashley was
doing at school and on the tennis court...! He was one very
proud Dad and put all of his emotional energies into giving
her the best upbringing that he could. In this sense he was
an inspiration to those of us with families and a reminder
that families are a worthy focus. It's easy to forget that
when you're under the pressures of business.

The memorial service for Jim will be on Monday, October 11,
2010, 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM, at the Harbor Lawn-Mt. Olive
Memorial Park and Mortuary, 1625 Gisler Avenue, Costa Mesa,
CA 92626, +1-714-540-5554. You can go online and leave your
thoughts and wishes at the Chapel URL at:

Rest in peace Jim. I am honored to have known you and worked
with you.

...The head janitor -- Terrie/



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+++ NEWS

- Plants phone home
- Manufacturer to fire 25% of workforce in China
- Takefuji goes bankrupt
- Morgan Stanley gets loan reprieve
- DeNA to make US$400m acquisition?

-> Plants phone home

DoCoMo has announced that it will start selling next year
plant monitoring sticks that you insert into the plant pot
or garden plot and which then communicate soil moisture and
sunlight data back to a website. Experts available with the
service will then email customers when they estimate, from
the data received, what the watering and harvesting times
should be. The sticks are expected to cost around JPY2,000
- JPY3,000 each. ***Ed: They need one of these for busy
mothers with babies...!** (Source: TT commentary from, Oct 8, 2010)

-> Manufacturer to fire 25% of workforce in China

While the Chinese government doesn't seem to mind its
workers pushing foreign manufacturers for ever increasing
pay raises, they must surely realize that this situation
cuts both ways. Already, many Japanese manufacturers are
looking elsewhere to base their factories. One such example
was highlighted this week, when Okaya Electric Industries,
an electrical and electronic parts maker, announced that it
would lay off 25% of its Chinese factory workers by March
2012, due to rising salary costs. (Source: TT commentary
from, Oct 10, 2010)

-> Takefuji goes bankrupt

A little late in noting this, but worth highlighting
anyway, is the bankruptcy the week before last of Japan's
largest consumer credit company, Takefuji. The company's
liabilities are estimated at JPY433.6bn but could be much
more. Takefuji has been in the doghouse ever since it's
president was charged some years ago with ordering a wire
tap on a journalist doing an expose on them. More recently
they have been on the receiving end of retroactive court
rulings that require finance firms to reimburse interest
charged to customers. ***Ed: The company is still trading
and somehow hoping to dig itself out of the mess.
Unfortunately for them, they still have potential customer
claims which could generate additional liabilities of
JPY2trn (US$20bn) -- about 5 times the amount that sent
them bankrupt. So their survival is definitely not a sure
thing.** (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 28,

-> Morgan Stanley gets loan reprieve

Morgan Stanley's real estate team got some good news this
last week when it was informed that Shinsei bank will pick
up its loan portfolio of JPY225bn, which it used to buy 13
hotels from ANA back in 2007. Apparently the properties
have slumped as much as 50% in value, and existing funder,
Citibank, declined to renew the loans. (Source: TT
commentary from, Oct 8, 2010)

-> DeNA to make US$400m acquisition?

Very much on a roll, social mobile gaming company DeNA is
rumored to be considering buying U.S. iPhone games company
Ngmoco for more than JPY40bn. Ngmoco has only been running
for 2 years, and still has very modest revenues, however,
since Apple made it possible for developers to charge
in-game fees (for virtual world equipment, power levels, etc.),
the company's fortunes look decidedly better. Speculation
is that the firm may wind up with sales of more than
JPY100bn in the U.S. alone in the next 2-3 years --
matching DeNA's own revenue in Japan, and of course partly
explaining the high price. (Source: TT commentary from, Oct 7, 2010)

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



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