Click here to read the first article. Memories with Mr. Idei vol. 1: Prequel to Meeting Mr. Idei”
Decided to leave Google
Now, when Mr. Tsujino asked me to let him know my answer by the next time, I was very confused, having been with Google for two and a half years. It was a time when I was gradually learning my job and becoming a bit of an asset, and Google is a company I love. It was just around the time when the office was moving from Cerulean Tower in Shibuya to Roppongi Hills, Android smartphones, which came out in December 2008, were beginning to spread along with the iPhone, and managed advertising was about to move into its next phase. It would have been an exciting experience even if I had stayed.
However, after much consideration, it seemed certain that I would not have the opportunity to work with Mr. Tsujino and Mr. Idei at a start-up from the very beginning. After careful consideration, I decided to resign from Google after two and a half years of service. Looking back, it was only two and a half years, but those two and a half years as a new graduate were very intense for me personally, and the company was just beginning to be recognized by the public with the introduction of Android, Chrome, Street View, and Google’s first TV commercials. It was around this time that Google began to be recognized by the general public. I was blessed with excellent colleagues and many seniors who looked up to me, so it was a really difficult decision. When my classmates held a surprise farewell party for me at a cafe in Roppongi Hills or somewhere, I was really moved to tears.
In fact, what followed after my career change was a series of bittersweet experiences, but even so, the decision I made at that time was not wrong, and it has become a great asset for me. At the very least, it was all an experience I could not have had if I had stayed at Google that way. As time goes by, it has become an irreplaceable memory.
The first meeting with Mr. Idei
I remember that I resigned from Google in mid-September 2010. I met Mr. Tsujino at a hotel lounge in Shinagawa around June, and while working at Google for about three months, I visited Quantum Leaps from time to time to prepare for the start-up of the company. At the time, Quantum Leaps was located in the Bankers Association Building (now Mizuho Marunouchi Tower) in Marunouchi, and I rented a conference room there to do some work.
Since I was still employed at Google, I mainly just went to Quantum Leaps for meetings with Mr. Tsujino and for interviews with people outside the company, but on my second visit, Mr. Tsujino said, “Mr. Idei is here today,” so I went to Mr. Idei’s room to introduce myself I thought we would meet someday. I knew that we would meet at some point, but I did not expect it to be so soon, and when I heard Mr. Tsujino’s words, my spine instantly straightened.
I was ushered into Mr. Idei’s office and greeted for the first time by Mr. Tsujino’s introduction. As a young man of that time, I was overwhelmed by the location of this prestigious Marunouchi building overlooking the Imperial Palace. (I’m embarrassed to say it, but it was realistic. lol) Google is a California company, and the company motto “You can be serious without a suit.” (Ten things we know to be true.) and the atmosphere was so casual. So, I was really nervous.
Mr. Idei was sitting at his desk on the left side of the door, dressed in a suit and tie, just as I had seen him in the media, and in the words of a young man, he had an “aura” about him. After exchanging business cards and being introduced by Mr. Tsujino, I introduced myself and was asked my age.
Mr. Idei: “How old are you now?”
Shakoya: “I will be 26 this year.”
Mr. Idei: “You must be the age I tried to quit SONY.
Mr. Tsujino: “Did that ever happen?”
It seems that when I was talking about SONY in a loud voice on the train on my way home from work, one of my seniors at work heard me, and the next day I was scolded severely.
In retrospect, I understand that he said that to ease my tension, but as I had just made the decision to quit Google, I felt as if I had been saved when I realized that even the CEO of SONY had gone through such a period of time.
It was an event that lasted only a few minutes, but I still remember it vividly, probably because I was so nervous (laugh). They had a certain sex appeal, and they were so cool that they would not look out of place even if they went overseas.
SONY’s presence in 80’s was like Google.
Then I bought a book and learned about SONY. How Akio Morita was the darling of the times in the 1980s, so much so that he appeared in American Express commercials in the United States. Since both Mr. Morita and Mr. Ibuka were at Waseda University, I wondered now if the Ibuka Hall in the Waseda library was about Mr. Ibuka.
When Akio Morita passed away, Steve Jobs held a memorial service at Apple. He told me many stories, such as how when Bill Gates came to Japan, the atmosphere in the meeting was not good, but when Morita-san unexpectedly arrived, he stood erect and the meeting went very smoothly. There is a section in MoMA in New York commemorating Mr. Morita.
I think Sony’s presence was just like that of Google or Apple today. GAFA is in full swing right now, but I am sure there will be a chance for Japan to make a comeback at some point in the future. I thought that I could not compete with Google because they showed me how great they are, but if I knew these facts, I would not be so timid. It was a really valuable experience for me to hear these facts directly from the people involved.
Even SONY was making strange products at the time of its establishment, such as a rice cooker that I don’t know what it is or a machine that heats a cushion.