Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Takasuka-san on the left, Funaki-san on the right
Yesterday, Matsumoto-san who is now the CEO of Neoteny Venture Development, Takasuka-san, the founder and CEO of Cybozu and Funaki-san the President of TIS and I had lunch. Takasuka-san is a really interesting guy who I met through Hato-san of Exceed. Takasuka-san was an engineer at Matsushita in the Management Information Systems group. He left Matsushita to found Cybozu. Cybozu makes a groupware package. The key to their success is that they did guerilla marketing to small groups in big companies that wanted to bypass the MIS group. Since the groupware products of big companies were invariably too complicated and a pain to work with, Cybozu was a great alternative that was priced low enough to get under the radar. They have been profitable and growing from their first year and have done well even after their IPO. TIS is one of the largest and most profitable system integration companies. They are headquartered in Osaka (as is Matsushita) but most of their operations and customers are in Tokyo. Sanwa Bank owned a big share of them for awhile, but have cut back in the wake of bank balance sheet reforms. Mr. Funaki used to work at Sanwa Bank and joined TIS several years ago to run it. TIS invested in Digital Garage and helped Digital Garage grow from a web company to an e-commerce company. TIS also invested in my Neoteny.

Anyway, it was fun introducing the two who met for the first time. I have a theory that Osaka companies that do business in Tokyo make money. Osaka is known for their business sense. The problem with Osaka is that it is a small market with a lot of competition. Funaki-san can act as regal and upper-class as anyone, but lunch was very Osaka-style. My father is from Osaka and Matsumoto is Kyoto which is in the Kansai region near Osaka. The discussion quickly shifted to a Kansai dialect.

What is fascinating about Takasuka-san is that he still loves Matsushita. He loves Matsushita even more than when he was there. He seems to embody the real soul of Matsushita which is about delivering great products to the masses at the lowest cost.

Anyway, I wish the best to both of them and I think they bonded in an interesting way. A senior Sanwa Bank executive now immersed in running a huge IT company and a young Matsushita engineer running a public company.