A note from Aruna Basnayake, Partner
We founded Japan Cloud around one clear mission – to bring the best global enterprise SaaS companies to Japan to help increase the productivity of Japanese corporations in their Japanese and international operations. We call these SaaS companies Tier 1 companies.
How can we tell what companies are Tier 1?
We look at three criteria: (1) strong revenue growth in their home markets, meaning more and more enterprises are opening up their wallets and paying for the software; (2) strong customer retention metrics meaning the company is creating a service that customers value and use more and more of; and (3) CEO and top management commitment to Japan meaning that Japan will get the right level of resources and management time to ensure success. All the companies that we partner with, and bring to Japan, have to satisfy these three criteria.
What are some trends we are seeing in the US?
My partners and I spend a lot of time in the US, meeting with major investors as well as founders of software companies. This is the best way to gain insights on emerging technologies and applications and, importantly, who the Tier 1 players are in each of these.
Above and beyond the technology trends, however, there are two observations from the US that I would like to share with you.
The first is that US companies are very focused on results: efficiency, acquisition costs, growth, time to market and other KPI. Much more so that in any other culture I have observed. And this is often directly tied to the compensation and recognition that individuals and teams receive. Performance is richly rewarded; winners are recognized, feted and promoted.
The second is the diversity I see, particularly on the East and West coasts of the US. Founders and CEOs of tech firms seem to come from all across the globe – India, France, Canada, Germany, Israel, Ukraine, South Africa... the list goes on. And they are building companies there are generating immense value for the US economy. These investors and founders make periodic visits to Japan Cloud’s offices and it is great that the people we recruit for our portfolio of companies have the opportunity to learn from these remarkable people.
What are some characteristics we look for in great leaders for our Japanese operations?
Where do I begin? Strategic thinking and prioritization. The ability to attract and recruit great talent and communicate, motivate and lead the team. The willingness to be “hands-on” and do whatever is necessary to build an organization from scratch to hundreds of employees. Most importantly, we look for coachability – the willingness to listen and learn from the network of Japan Cloud executives who have already made the journey and whose experiences we have used to create and fine-tune our playbooks.
And finally, where was I born and what brought me to Japan?
Surprisingly, I get this question quite often, usually towards the end of a first meeting, so I thought I should add it to this narrative. I was born in Sri Lanka, a small country to the south of India. I didn’t grow up there. My father was a diplomat and I accompanied my family and lived in various cities – New York, London, Tokyo, New Delhi, Yangon and Sydney, in that order. As such, I believe I carry with me a blend of Asian and Western cultures. This is also the basis of my relationship with Japan, having spent some of my formative years in Tokyo, where I grew up playing baseball with my Japanese neighbourhood friends and watching Japanese television programs such as サザエさん, ウルトラマンand 仮面ライダー. Incidentally, I still enjoy watching サザエさん although her voice has decidedly changed from when I was a kid and Amazon is now the main sponsor instead of Toshiba, a clear sign of digital transformation!
In closing comments for this note, I am very excited as I watch our portfolio of companies growing and am looking forward to announcing the introduction of even more companies to the Japan Cloud portfolio in Japan.