There are some companies you really want to succeed. One of these, for me, is the Japanese flash memory start-up, Genusion.
That’s not just because Genusion’s founder, Moriyoshi Nakashima, bought me a good lunch in the business centre at the Shin-Marunouchi building last time I was in Tokyo, but because Nakashima is doing something which needs to be done.
He’s trying to get a VC-backed semiconductor company off the ground in Japan. That’s a huge thing to try and do. It’s also really important thing he succeeds.
Japan‘s semiconductor sector has been shrinking and looks like it’ll shrink more with the mergers of Matsushita with Sanyo Semiconductor, and Renesas with NEC.
If the engineers which are inevitably going to spill out of these mergers are to find any beacons of hope, and routes to interesting employment, they are going to have to come from new start-up companies like Genusion.
Nakashima’s biggest problem may be his engineer’s fear of money men. “”I want a gentle VC”, he told me, “I don’t want an aggressive VC.”.
What Nakashima means by a gentle VC is an investor which doesn’t insist on financial control.
Nakashima’s attitude is, I suspect, one which many Japanese engineers will share when they seek funding for start-ups.
This is something which is usually overcome only by success. A success like ARM, which created several hundred millionaires on its staff, will persuade Japanese engineers that it’s worth taking the risk.
And a government-backed VC group like SBIC (Japan’s Small and Medium Business Investment and Consultancy Company) should provide a reasonably gentle VC experience.
Genusion’s success would be a huge thing for stimulating entrepreneurial semiconductor activity in Japan.
Good luck Nakashima-san.