Sumitomo's Yasunori Kakemizu discusses his Stanford experience

StanfordSky NEWSFEED
An aerial view of the Stanford campus, May 2007. Marcin Wichary/

What do running a business and flying an airplane have in common?

“Starting a business is like takeoff and cruising,” says Yasunori Kakemizu, a Corporate Affiliates Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC). “But exiting from it is very difficult—like landing—because you need to try to make a profit.” 

Kakemizu should know. He has spent over a decade promoting business development at Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation and its affiliate company Jupiter Telecommunications (J:COM). He is also currently training in his free time for his pilot’s license.

Assistant to the general manager of the Cable TV Department in Sumitomo’s Media Division, Kakemizu has spent the past year at Stanford studying the strategies of major American cable companies in adapting to industry changes like the rise of online streaming media. He has examined, for example, the launch of Comcast’s Xfinity streaming service, and how the company has successfully grown it into a profitable part of its business.

“I’m looking for lessons J:COM and other affiliates can use in the next steps of their own streaming services, which is still relatively new in Japan,” Kakemizu says.

Kakemizu is also taking advantage of Stanford’s close ties to Silicon Valley by attending entrepreneurship seminars and enrolling in classes like cloud computing and investment finance. He is fascinated by the opportunities Stanford students have to work on projects with Silicon Valley companies, and the important role Stanford plays in the regional and global business world.

“This university gathers people from around the world and educates them on how to create new companies,” he says. “They then transmit this knowledge globally.”

During the academic year, Kakemizu has enjoyed taking part in the Corporate Affiliates Program site visits to cutting-edge local tech companies, such as Facebook. He found the visit to Cypress Envirosystems, a company that merges digital technology with older HVAC analog technology, especially intriguing.

“Most businesses are ‘forward thinking,’ but they’re focusing on older technologies,” Kakemizu says. “As a result, they don’t have any market competitors. From a business point of view, their strategy is very clever.”

As the academic year winds down, Kakemizu will wrap up his research project and present the results at a seminar. He and the other Visiting Fellows will have a chance to receive feedback and respond to questions from Shorenstein APARC faculty.

Kakemizu will also finish up his pilot’s license training before he returns to Japan. If you hear an airplane flying over campus one day this spring, it might just be him.

“The view of Stanford from the air is very beautiful,” he says.