What was your earliest ambition?
I wanted to become a famous jazz saxophonist. I still play my horn but don’t expect to see me at the Blue Note any time soon!
What’s been the steepest learning curve on your career journey so far?
Starting a career in venture capital in Japan came with numerous challenges -- professional, cultural, and linguistic. There were times when I doubted myself and wondered why I didn’t pursue a “normal” job back home in the US. As I overcame those challenges little by little (with the guidance of excellent mentors) and began to feel the rush that comes with true accomplishment, it changed my attitude toward challenges entirely — now I crave them.
Which tech trend are you most excited about at the moment and why?
I am fascinated by developments in artificial intelligence. We’re beginning to build machines that intimately engage with the physical world and learning more about how our own brains work in the process. It’s bleeding edge computer science and engineering, but it also raises interesting philosophical questions. What is learning? What is intelligence? What is consciousness? It’s an exciting field to watch and it’s encouraging to see how ambitious companies in this space are becoming.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Working hard only works if you’re also working smart” - a gem from my grandpa Bob
What is the company you wish you’d backed and why?
TransferWise. It takes a certain audacity to approach an institution like the international banking system and say “we can do this much better” and that’s exactly what TransferWise did with overseas money transfers. It’s a great example of a clever idea executed with simple technology disrupting an entire industry.