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Gen has extensive experience in venture capital, finance, and entrepreneurship. Passionate about unlocking people’s entrepreneurship and creativity, he founded WiL to form a new innovation engine. He currently oversees WiL’s global investment strategy and as well as incubation and carve-out practice.
Before he co-founded WiL, Gen was Partner at DCM Ventures, specializing in online media, mobile, and consumer services. He also led strategy and operations across multiple disciplines, including corporate finance and market risk management while with the Industrial Bank of Japan. He co-founded his first company, a web design firm, as a student at Tokyo University.
Gen is a technology columnist for the Nikkei’s digital edition, Nikkei Industrial Newspaper, and the Toyo Keizai Online. He is also a member of various Japanese government committees including Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to promote entrepreneurship nationwide.
Gen holds a BA from the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Law and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Outside of work, Gen is an avid educator and enjoys teaching and sports. He also became a zealous golfer as he started teaching all his four children to play.
Yoshi brings a wealth of experience in technology ventures, finance, as well as strategy and operations.
Before joining WiL, Yoshi most recently led early-stage investment efforts at Digital Garage’s venture capital arm. Before that he transitioned from being a finance executive to the startup world by working with an enterprise tech startup in Tokyo to develop a new CRM/ lead generation application.
Yoshi began his career at Morgan Stanley, where he served as Vice President of the private equity real estate group, and headed up deal sourcing, due diligence, valuation, contract negotiation, and asset management. Passionate about his portfolio companies, during his tenure at Morgan Stanley Yoshi spent a year working full-time as a strategic planner at a portfolio company. He also worked on the investment banking team and supported several IPOs.
At WiL, Yoshi has been working on investments in automotive, drones, marketing/ad tech, and digital healthcare. Yoshi is also excited about opportunities in fintech and marketplaces.
Yoshi has an MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and a BS in Economics from University of Tokyo.
Outside of work, Yoshi plays a mean game of tennis and on his PlayStation. He loves watching NBA and is an avid Clippers fan.
Namiko is an award-winning consumer marketer with more than ten years of experience, including roles leading international market expansion for Unilever, Kirin Brewery, and Blue Bottle Coffee. With her deep understanding of consumer behavior and design thinking, she is passionate about changing people’s lives through innovative products and services.
Her career began with Unilever, where she was in charge of global brand marketing for Dove hair care products as the brand’s regional representative in Asia. She then joined Kirin Brewery to lead new product development, and launched Kirin Free, the world’s first 0.00% non-alcoholic beer. Kirin Free created a new market that’s worth $620M, for which she won multiple awards including Nikkei Woman of the Year 2010. She earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Namiko’s personal interests include healthy eating, wine, yoga, and skiing.
Aki enjoys working with visionary entrepreneurs in frontier tech such as VR/AR, Bitcoin, IoT, and Autonomous Driving as evidenced by investments he led in Studio Roqovan, Survios, Nuzzel, and 21.co. He is also passionate about WiL’s corporate innovation efforts to bring WiL’s corporate partners’ organizational and corporate cultures more in line with Silicon Valley’s ethos. Through his facilitation of the Design Thinking Workshops and mentorship of the Workshop facilitators, he has deepened his relationships with corporate executives which are influential in opening up business development opportunities between corporations and startup companies.
Aki’s career began in Tokyo where he worked in construction. In his free time, he taught himself computer programming which led to an engineering position with a software company. In 2003 he joined Digital Garage, and in 2008 he moved to the Bay Area to launch its US operations. Through Digital Garage’s investment, he joined Twitter International team where he was instrumental in the company’s expansion to Japan. Soon after he became head of Digital Garage’s investment arm, resulting in investments in Udemy and Intercom.
In his spare time Aki enjoys playing guitar and singing.
Steve Pretre is a veteran of multiple successful startups with deep operating experience across product development, marketing, and strategic planning. He enjoys partnering with entrepreneurs to build innovative companies that leverage unique sources of data and predictive analytics to define new products, distribution models, or marketplaces.
Prior to joining World Innovation Lab, Steve was the co-founder and CEO of Metromile, an early innovator that paved the path for the current wave of insurance startups. He held executive roles at Asurion, leading their mobile applications business unit as the company grew to a multi-billion dollar provider of mobile device insurance sold through the wireless carriers. He was the first marketing and product lead at RMS, which developed predictive risk modeling software that became the defacto standard for pricing and transfer of catastrophe risk for the global insurance industry. He was also an early executive at Annuncio Software, the first email automation startup during the dot com era, later acquired by PeopleSoft/Oracle.
Steve holds an MBA from the Wharton School, where he graduated as a Palmer Scholar, and holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a BA in Economics from Stanford University. He is an avid runner and former competitive triathlete who now enjoys weekends watching his kids compete in soccer, cross country and track.
Tsune focuses on investing in mid to late-stage, high-growth technology companies in enterprise software, finance and transportation. He worked on WiL’s investment in BirdEye.
Prior to joining WiL, Tsune was VP of Business Operations and Strategy at Evernote, creator of productivity software products used by more than 200 million users worldwide. Tsune spearheaded growth analytics and was instrumental in improving the company’s revenue growth and financial stability through a series of successful monetization efforts. He has also worked for Blue Ridge Capital and T. Rowe Price analyzing publicly traded internet companies. Earlier in his career, Tsune was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers/ Barclays Capital.
Tsune holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BA in Economics from the University of Tokyo.
Vicky brings deep industry and entrepreneurial experience in consumer digital media and technology products.
Prior to WiL, Vicky headed up Global Retail Products at Sling Media (now part of DISH Network), and led product design, development, and marketing for all Slingbox software (spanning web, mobile, TV platforms) and hardware products.
Previously, she cofounded eHow.com (now part of Demand Media) where she led product development and the contextual commerce monetization strategy.
Vicky also led product planning and business development at Sony PlayStation and at other consumer digital media, gaming, and tech startups. She was also a management consultant at Accenture.
Vicky has an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BS with Highest Honors from UC Berkeley.
Outside of work, Vicky is a zealous traveler, a less-than-adept yet equally zealous runner, and an improv newbie.
Rob Theis is General Partner with 16 years of venture capital experience and invests in a broad range of multi-stage technology companies with exceptional growth potential. Some of his investments include BirdEye, BrightRoll, Digital Shadows, DocuSign, Fortinet, HubSpot, PGP, RingCentral and VanceInfo. Rob enjoys working closely with committed entrepreneurs to help create businesses that are revolutionary and can become leaders in their respective markets. He has invested in over 24 companies creating an aggregate capitalization of $31 Billion with 7 IPOs and 11 acquired.
Rob spent his earlier career in operating roles as an early employee for Silicon Graphics (SGI) being their product manager for IRIS Series Workstations. Later he joined Sun Microsystems, Inc and in 10 years took on various executive leadership roles to grow and accelerate various business units. In 1996 he joined Rick Adam & Harold Piskiel from Goldman Sachs to create New Era of Networks (NASDAQ:NEON), the first enterprise software platform to integrate corporate applications and the internet to $200 million revenue in 4 years.
Rob has a BA in Economics & Computer Science from University of Pittsburgh. He’s an avid rock climber, scuba diver, sailboat racer and a member of the Sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team.
Masaya graduated from Keio University’s Faculty of Law in 1997 and joined Itochu Corporation soon after. In 1998 he joined Lehman Brothers Tokyo as a tech banker handling various M&A and financing transactions for wide range of domestic and international technology companies. In 2008 he joined Barclays as a head of telecommunications and media group, and then in 2011 moved to SMBC Nikko as a team to rebuild its investment banking franchise.
Throughout his career as an investment banker, he has consistently been covering internet and media sector based in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and New York office, and has handled 50+ corporate finance transactions involving various corporates ranging from venture company to large public enterprise.
A native of Kobe, Masataka established PIM Corporation in 1999, leading the company as CEO until its merger with Yahoo! Japan.
As president of Yahoo! Japan, Masataka oversaw strategic investments and the launch of the Yahoo! BB ISP. He also served as senior executive of Yahoo! Shopping.
Masataka was involved in Softbank’s acquisition of Vodaphone, served as the first director of mobile business development at Yahoo!, and led Softbank’s mobile products and consumer unit.
In 2008, as general manager of Yahoo!’s R&D division, he managed front-end development for Yahoo! services. Since 2011 he has led Yahoo!’s new business development as Chief Incubation Officer.
After graduating from Ritsumeikan University College of International Relations in 2003, Toshimichi joined CyberAgent, one of Japan’s leading Internet media companies. There he served as account director and manager for the company’s ad sales unit, working with major financial and HR clients.
Toshi moved to the U.S. in 2007 to establish CyberAgent’s American branch and act as its president. He oversaw development of the company’s Facebook apps and helped bring popular Japanese mobile games to North American and Asian markets.
Prior to WiL, he has managed venture capital investment as Senior Vice President of CyberAgent Ventures since 2012. Raised in Wales, Toshi previously studied at the Indonesian language department of Gadjah Madras University in Indonesia and worked as a correspondent at the Daily Jakarta Shimbun.