Keizai Events

Japanese Corporate Strategies in Silicon Valley: What Do the Locals Think?

Japanese corporations in Silicon Valley have often struggled to become driving forces for innovation due to several persistent constraints: headquarter bureaucracies, siloed business units, a lack of decision-making authority, discontinuous HR systems, and geographical and psychological distance.

Now however, Japanese corporations are developing Silicon Valley strategies to address these “pain points” in new ways. What are these emerging approaches to innovation and are they more than a continuation of Corporate Venture Capital? Who has true decision-making authority? Is the focus on established businesses or on reaching beyond core domains and expertise? Through an open panel discussion, the audience will be introduced to some of the latest Japanese corporate strategies for harnessing innovation and feedback from local players representing the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem.


Alex Blanter

Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Alex Blanter is a Partner with PwC and an experienced innovation consultant. He spent the last 25 years in the Silicon Valley, first in various product development and engineering management roles and for the last 15 years consulting to US and international enterprises on the topics of innovation, technological and business disruptions, digital transformation, and the Silicon Valley ecosystem. Most recently he has been engaged with a number of Japanese companies trying to set up innovation centers in the Valley, developing and piloting Internet of Things solutions and platforms, and creating components and products for automotive, industrial, and high tech applications. Alex is a frequent speaker and a panelist at industry events both in US and abroad.

Eita Kitani

Deputy General Manager, Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas)

Eita Kitani has been engaged in new business development in Mitsubishi Corporation for over 15 years. He was in charge of managing Nanotech Partners, a nanotechnology venture fund, followed by smart community projects in Corporate Strategy and Research Dept. In 2011, he was transferred to Silicon Valley to investigate technologies and business models with potential applications to the wide range of businesses that the company covered. After a 2-year transfer to the North America HQ in New York, where he was engaged in development of the regional strategy, he has returned to Silicon Valley last year, to promote the “M-Lab” concept.

Naoki “Nick” Sugimoto

CEO, Honda R&D Innovations, Inc.

Nick Sugimoto is the CEO of Honda R&D Innovations, Inc. (, the global open innovation hub of Honda based in Mountain View, California. Nick oversees Honda’s advanced information technology projects in Silicon Valley, as well as, strategic partnership programs. Previously, Nick led the corporate venture capital program at Honda where he invested in a number of innovative startup companies and built strategic partnerships. Prior to joining Honda, Nick was a successful entrepreneur leading a series of technology venture companies in both the US and Japan. Nick received his engineering degree from the University of Tokyo and MBA from Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

Don Stark

Principal Hardware Engineer, Google

Don Stark received his BSEE from MIT and MS and Ph.D. EE degrees from Stanford University, all in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, he joined the Semiconductor Research and Development Department, Toshiba Corporation, Kawasaki, Japan, where he designed DRAMs and high speed chip interfaces. After returning to the United States, he worked on a variety of technologies, including memory interfaces at Rambus, 10G Ethernet at Aeluros (now part of Broadcom), and mobile television at Telegent (now part of Spreadtrum). After a stint as a consulting professor at Stanford, he joined Google Inc. in 2011, where he is currently a Principal Hardware Engineer working on technologies for smartphones and data centers.

Yasushi Komori

Principal Investor, GREE VR Capital, LLC

Yasushi Komori is Principal of GREE VR Capital, LLC, and runs the GVR Fund, a $15M VR/AR-focused fund GREE launched in April 2016 with other strategic investors as LPs.
Before joining the GVR Fund, Yasushi have worked at GREE as Game Producer for 5 years running couple of social games and server-side engineer for 3 years.


Devang Thakor

Founder and Principal Consultant, Anioplex, LLC

Devang Thakor received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from UCLA and then developed gene therapy, stem cell, and biomaterial technologies for spinal cord injury and chronic pain at Kyoto University and Harvard Medical School. He currently determines patentability and grants biotechnology and pharmaceutical patents as a primary examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He also runs Anioplex, LLC, which consults on business development and strategy, research design, data dissemination, and fundraising for startups, global corporations, venture capital firms, and universities. Additionally, he advises the SPARK translational medicine program at Stanford University and studies law at Santa Clara University. His goal is to promote multilevel innovation and crystallize basic science to products that improve humanity.


Thursday, April 27th

Registration/Networking: 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM

Program: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Networking: 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
650 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304

English Flyer
Japanese Flyer


$15: Early Bird Discount for first 30 registrations by April 12 (11PM)

$20: Regular Registration by Sunday April 23 (11 PM)

$35: Late Registration by Tuesday April 25 (Noon)

$50: Walk-ins (Seats are limited and may not be available)

Food, including sushi and beverages, will be served.