This is not the first time we hear the opinion that Asia is an underestimated destination for relocation. Our hero moved to Japan knowing only Konni chi was. And he found a job in a local IT giant, and then switched to developing his own startup.
Of course, it was not given at the snap of a finger. But it turned out that the country is not as closed as it seems at first glance: the locals are friendly to visitors.
Although it is better to learn the language and take into account Japanese specifics. We asked about it: how IT companies are organized, is it easy for a developer to find a job, is it necessary to know Japanese, and how does one live under a branch of cherry blossoms in general.
For a Westerner, any Asian country is an incomprehensible and alien world, almost another planet. And the more I heard stories about moving to the East, the more I wanted to check how life really is here – and you can do this only by immersing yourself 100%.
Everyone has their own reasons for relocating: someone is looking for a higher salary, someone is looking for new difficult tasks. The most important thing for me was to understand how local technologies work: I even started a channel in which I write analytical notes about the Asian IT market.
I was graduating from college, so I had two options: look for a job or study further. I chose a master’s degree: I went to Hong Kong, and from there I moved to Japan.
I studied, trained at the fund as an analyst – my visa did not allow me to work full time. The Chinese IT market is very strong, the conditions are harsh, there are many top engineers.
For example, one of my friends said that before Black Friday, employees of companies like Alibaba can be in the office all week. And if you plan to develop your product in the future, it is almost impossible to squeeze into the market.
While contemplating what to do after graduate school, I was suddenly approached by a recruiter from the Japanese company Yahoo! Japan – and offered to get a job with them.
Local specifics: how Yahoo! Japan and local IT companies
Yahoo! Japan, it would seem, should be associated with a well-known search engine – yes, it is. But the Japanese branch has historically developed along a completely different path: from the American Yahoo, except perhaps the name and technology licenses. And by Japanese standards, the company is unimaginably young: it is only 30 years old.
It sounds funny, but it’s true: compared to other companies. For example, the Sumitomo Group conglomerate is older than the United States, founded in 1630 and still alive today. There is a tea company that is almost 1000 years old and even Nintendo was founded in 1889.
It sounds unusual, but this is how the peculiarities of local traditions are manifested, and they are reflected in the conduct of business. Conglomerates in Japan rule the roost and severely fragment the market.
This raises the barriers to entry into the banking sector or into the food sector, for example, into the trade in soybeans or rice. All the space is occupied by large companies, startups can only integrate into this pipeline to a minimum. The exception is if a new segment emerges, such as the Internet.
Yahoo! Japan is a subsidiary of the local large conglomerate SoftBank. SoftBank does almost everything related to telecommunications in Japan, and its venture capital investment fund is the largest: $100 billion.
SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son is a visionary who made a name for himself by investing a couple of million in Alibaba. In 1994, he proposed to the founder of Yahoo to develop a search market in Japan using American technology. It turned out to be a joint venture: the income was divided among themselves, but everything was on the Japanese side.
Search for the original Yahoo has ceased to exist, and the Japanese branch in its country has become the number one consumer company. They are strong in e-commerce, payment business and advertising .
this is the core of the business, and in addition – a question-answer service like Quora and various consumer applications: calendar, email client, video hosting. Along with Rakuten, Yahoo! Japan became the main IT company in Japan – and not a single conglomerate could absorb them.
Another feature of Japan is money and payment systems. For many reasons, credit and debit cards have not taken root here, including because of the highly developed small business.
Acquiring with a commission of about 1.15–2.5% did not stimulate the transition to card systems at all. In addition, part of the taxes cannot be covered by tips from customers (as happens, for example, in the USA); in Japan, tipping is not accepted and is not even welcomed. Therefore, non-cash payment is rather rare: outside of Tokyo, not every supermarket can pay with a card.