I had breakfast this morning at the Hotel Okura with Jack Wadsworth and Thierry Porte of Morgan Stanley. Thierry is the President of Morgan Stanley in Japan and Jack used to be President of Morgan Stanley in Japan in the 80's and was the Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia before he retired and started a venture capital firm with his son Chris called Manitou Ventures. (He is still Honorary Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia) In the 70's, Jack kicked off the high-tech IPO business by doing the Apple Computer IPO.
When you get Jack and Thierry together they can represent the history of Japan's relationship with foreign investors in Japan from the 80's to the present. Thierry's one of the people who knows Japan's problems the most, but is still trying to fix Japan's problems and encourage foreign direct investment. He's also on the board of the American School in Japan, the last place I ever graduated, and does a lot of work in the community in Japan.
The cool thing about Jack is that he loves entrepreneurship and technology and really "gets it." He recently joined Pixar's board, bringing him full circle with the Steve Jobs who he took public at Apple and who is CEO of Pixar. Jack is interested in Asia and has found some great partners in China and Taiwan, but is still looking for the "Kleiner Perkins" of Japan. Of course WE are the Kleiner Perkins of Japan, but there is no Steve Jobs in Japan. We talked about the lack of entrepreneurs in Japan, the lack of smart VC's and the problems we face in Japan. The valuations for Japanese companies are much higher now than their equivalents in Silicon Valley because Japanese VC's are still rushing to put money into the few good companies in the market and are cranking up the valuations and spinning things out of control. It's quite sad. We're now looking a lot more to Silicon Valley for new deals because of the quality of the entrepreneurs and the intelligence of the other investors in the market.
I give investment bankers a hard time, but Jack and Thierry always make me think again because of all of the value they've added to Japan.