If you ever spend time watching Japanese TV you can’t fail to of come across ads by Gree, DENA or Mobage-town. The two companies are rivals in Japan’s booming mobile content market – producing games and social networks that folks of all ages are happy to spend money on. Yoshikazu Tanaka is CEO of Gree and it’s success has made him Asia’s youngest self-made billionaire. His fortune is a cool $1.6 billion and he has just turned 35.
He is not only the richest man in Asia however; he is also the second youngest in the world behind 26-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Tanaka was able to set his social network apart from the well established Japanese brands Mixi and DeNA by concentrating on mobile games and making partnerships with major ISPs. While Gree.jp trails Mixi in number of users, it tops all other Japanese social networks in revenues and profits due to its success selling virtual goods to its users, such as clothes for their in-game avatars.
Photo Copyright Makoto Ishida
The word GREE comes from the phrase “Six degrees of separation.” Their web-based site includes a profile page, diary log, photo album, reviews, community section and mail. The service has been running since 2004.
As a profile last year in Forbes reported, Tanaka has been interested in a digital society since reading American futurist Alvin Toffler in junior high school. More on Toffler can be found here; for those without the time, the writer is best known for looking at the implications of the emergence of a new information based society.
Forbes reveals that Tanaka gained his first bite of technology in the U.S, browsing the web in 1996 while visiting California and thus inspired, returned to Japan to work at an online division of Sony before time at internet shopping mall, Rakuten.
Here is a link to the full article on Yoshikazu Tanaka on Forbes, well worth a read if you are interested in finding out more on one of the richest people in Japan, a market-driven country where excessive wealth is looked down upon. Gree will be soon expanding its service to America and targeting English-speaking users. Will you be interested in joining up?