26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Takayuki Inagawa, president and CEO, NTT Docomo Ventures

Takayuki Inagawa has been in the mobile communications industry for two decades. He has since June 2018 been the chief executive of NTT Docomo Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of Japan-based telecommunication firm NTT Group’s mobile network subsidiary, NTT Docomo.

He oversees the development of innovative mobile communication services and products, partnering and collaborating with emerging companies that develop information and communications technology, big data, cloud and authentication security across all stages.

Founded in 2008, NTT Docomo Ventures has invested in more than 110 companies in a bid to accelerate innovation on behalf of the NTT Group. It seeks out cooperation opportunities with entrepreneurs globally by providing capital from its CVC vehicles and business development initiatives with NTT’s group companies.

Regarding the strategic partnerships with entrepreneurs, Inagawa said on NTT Docomo Ventures’ website: “We recently hear the buzz word ‘innovation’ many times in the business life. But the reality is that it is not easy to change something when you try to live with an innovative sense in a big company.

“One of the reasons is that the corporate culture of big companies is conservative. On the other hand, startups are established based on new rules, so they have more freedom to make something better. It seems to us that there would be a lot of synergies between big corporates and startups, but it is actually hard to find a good business relationship for them because of a lack of meetup opportunities.

“We are going to solve this issue – NTT Docomo Ventures has established a corporate venture fund promoting ‘collaborative creation’ and the ‘Docomo Innovation Village’, a program supporting business collaborations and startups, and organically coordinates them with the NTT Group, including NTT Docomo.

“With business development as the pillar of our activities, we will continue to create technology and service innovations not only in Japan but worldwide, and to work together to create new businesses and contribute to increasing revenues for NTT Docomo and the NTT Group.”

From its portfolio companies, NTT Docomo Ventures unit has exited a score of companies through initial public offerings throughout the years, including venue rental marketplace SpaceMarket’s IPO in November 2019 and that of online classifieds portal Jimoty two months after, both on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Mothers Market.

In March 2020, content recommendation engine LiftIgniter was purchased by digital publishing group Maven for an undisclosed sum, enabling the unit to exit.

In the same month, NTT Docomo Ventures invested $6m in streaming technology developer Genvid Technologies’ series B funding, which took the round to $33m, having backed Israel-based internet-of-things technology provider Wiliot’s series B the month before.

In addition to direct investments through the CVC unit, NTT Docomo also made a limited partner commitment to venture capital firm I-Nest Capital’s first fund sized at ¥6.6bn ($61m) in February 2020.

Apart from concentrating on NTT Docomo Ventures’ financial and strategic returns, Inagawa told Wedge Infinity in an interview in June 2019 that he hoped younger team members at NTT Docomo Ventures with experience in Silicon Valley could be the driving force to incubate new businesses.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF