In the Economist's 16-Page Global Tech Startup Report, Japan is Mentioned Twice.

A Cambrian Moment - AkihabaraNews.com

...and one of those is on a map.
China, with the world’s 2nd-largest economy, is mentioned 7 times with occasional allusion, and America, still way up top with a GDP roughly twice that of China, is mentioned outright 15 times and referenced again and again.

Now Japan - home to the world’s 3rd-largest economy - gets just one, single, solitary mention in context. And it’s nearly meaningless. Just a passing reference to a recent Rakuten acquisition.

And no, in no way are we blaming the messenger, we are embarrassed. 

The Report
Though it can at times be abrasively British, The Economist is one of the last big-time publications still holding a flame for journalistic integrity. If that’s too fawning a qualification, then we’ll just say that, in a time when basically ALL news outlets are mainlining PCP and steroids into disingenuous, ambulance-chasing search engine optimization, all the while neutering and emasculating writers into excreting dumbed-down talking points that pander to the basest psychological leftovers of primitive paleolithic tribalism, The Economist like, you know, actually publishes news and intelligent analysis and stuff.

Anyway, their State of the Planet, tech-focused startup report, A Cambrian* Moment, is a freely available PDF offering a relatively accessible global overview of emerging trends and ongoing activity, with analysis, speculation, and projection. It even includes a section on the psychological effects of being a starter-upper. Strangely hackish cover design aside, the report is a must-read.

For Japanese startups, venture capitalists, angels, incubators, platforms, the hard of thinking whose neglect forced SCHAFT Robotics and Telepathy into cross-Pacific expatriotism, and also those of us pounding keyboard from the sidelines, that Japan’s is given but the slightest lip service, is a must-notice.

So, we’re sharing this report because A. It’s a really good report, and B. Ironically, stereotypical principles of Japanese minimalism apply: what moves us most is the empty space; that which is missing, i.e., someone needs to scream out that, in a preeminent survey of the global tech startup movement, Japan is basically nowhere to be found.

Our Ongoing J-Startup Coverage
Focused startup coverage is a relatively new thing in the decade-plus history of AkihabaraNews. We began covering Tokyo’s scene in earnest just this past October - lot’s of coverage, making international connections, podcast interviews, media sponsorships, and plenty of legwork. In these few months, we’ve developed a considerable enthusiasm for and a bit of frustration with Japan’s bubbling but far from boiling startup movement.

Admittedly, looking at our RSS, just a few articles down, yeah - we do on occasion post some fluffy, silly tech stuff. However adjacent Bluetooth-enabled locking lingerie might be, we take Japan’s nascent startup movement quite seriously. After all, the giants aren’t doing a whole lot of innovating, and if AkihabaraNews is to continue its angle of bringing the world truly unique Japanese tech, then… well, it's looking like a lot of that's going to have to come from J-startups. We support that. And we believe in the possibilities.

But for now, possibilities remain just that, and we’re not going to blow sunshine all the time. In that vein, we’ll close with this - a sentiment for which we ourselves have been criticized:

     “...But ecosystems are more fragile than their leaders’ confident manner suggests. Network effects can easily go the other way. And governments have to tread carefully because national ecosystems increasingly form part of larger global organisms. Founders and investors, already used to entrepreneurial globetrotting, will readily consider moving to another place if it seems to have more to offer. Often that place is America.

     With it’s huge market and vast pool of venture capital, it is still the destination of choice for founders the world over, even though the country’s restrictive immigration policy since September 11th, 2001 has made it more difficult for them to settle there. If Asia and Europe do not watch out, their best startups could still end up in Silicon Valley or in one of America’s newer ecosystems, such as Austin, Boulder, or New York.”

-The Economist; A Cambrian Moment

Hmmm… foreboding words pointing to the possibility of an Asian tech startup brain drain. What’s this, has the venerable Economist been reading AkihabaraNews? No. It’s just that they have access to logic, too. It’s helpful.

Japan, for all our sake, let's get in that report next year, yeah?

• • •

*Value-Added Corner:The Cambrian was a period in earth’s history, approximately 480-540 million years ago, when living things exploded upon the surface and the whole planet just starting oozing out gooey creatures that would eventually evolve into a bony, bipedal meatsack piloted by a recursive, self-aware pattern that parks itself in Tokyo and writes Technosnark©®™ for the masses.

Images: The Economist
Nod: with Steam Engine Timing, one due to Tech Crunch

Source: 

Related Articles

Terra Motors A4000i Test Drive & Review - AkihabaraNews.com

Terra Motors, Japan’s very own electric vehicle startup (no stranger to Akihabara News), is preparing to launch their A4000i smartphone-enabled electric scooter this summer, and they recently invited us to the MONO startups space in Tokyo Bay to get up close and personal with it.

Terrie's Take - AkihabaraNews.com

Terrie’s Take is a selection of Japan-centric news collected and collated by long-time resident and media business professional Terrie Lloyd. AkihabaraNews is pleased to present Terrie’s learned perspective; we all could use another take on the news - here’s Terrie’s:

Terrie's Take - AkihabaraNews.com

Terrie’s Take is a selection of Japan-centric news collected and collated by long-time resident and media business professional Terrie Lloyd. AkihabaraNews is pleased to present Terrie’s learned perspective; we all could use another take on the news - here’s Terrie’s:

Reno J. Tibke - January 11, 2014

JTFF - Japanese Technology from the Future Friday! - AkihabaraNews.com

This week, well, they say dancing around screaming “I TOLD YOU SO!” isn’t very polite, but we will because SCHAFT Robotics' co-founder publicly declared J-startup culture moribund and is building his own investment fund, Nintendo pwned some patent trolls, and maybe, just maybe, SONY LIVES!

• • •

Terra Motors & PocketView Startups in Japan - AkihabaraNews.com

Last week, AkihabaraNews began unpackaging Japan’s nascent startup and venture capital movement, and though it’s but a week since, increased momentum is already evident. We’ll not only cover developments, AkihabaraNews is also getting involved. First, a J-startup update via Terra Motors and PocketVenture Live!:

• • •

Terrie's Take - AkihabaraNews.com

Terrie’s Take is a selection of Japan-centric news collected and collated by long-time resident and media business professional Terrie Lloyd. AkihabaraNews is pleased to present Terrie’s learned perspective; we all could use another take on the news - here’s Terrie’s:

Terra Motors & PocketView Startups in Japan - AkihabaraNews.com

Japan is world-renowned for a dearth of startup and venture capital in business culture, but change might be coming; while the top-down innovation efforts of Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, etc. have flailed and failed, long-underappreciated or outright ignored entrepreneurs are preparing to strike back.

• • •

Akihabaranews.com - ANA Social Media

ANA (All Nippon Airways), showing leadership in Social Media, has partnered with a US Social Entrepreneur Organization called Ashoka to create a kind of digital charity/donation concept called Blue Wing.

My Experience in a Tokyo Tech Startup, by Michelle Gong - AkihabaraNews.com

Michelle Gong is a liberal studies undergrad from UCLA currently studying abroad at Tokyo’s renowned Waseda University. Michelle is participating in AkihabaraNews’ Voluntern Program, and the following is the first of a series exploring her experience interning and interacting in Tokyo’s tech startup scene, living in Japan, and what she hopes the experience will add to her ongoing education.

Pages