The Japanese government nowadays consists of entrepreneurs, famous politicians and experts in many areas – as well as one man in a kimono that used to be an online game executive – later turning into a financier of a very specific kind.
Jie Maand Nao Sano of Bloomberg report on Kotaro Chiba, the online game evangelist that still wears a kimono on special occasions in order to showcase his pride in the Japanese culture. In the latest news, Mr. Chiba has announced that he is gathering money for what he calls the Drone Fund – which is a project that invests in unmanned vehicles (UAVs) in order to survey buildings, make deliveries as well as take photos from the sky.
The project has a lot of initiatives and basically seeks to make them all real from Japan to Silicon Valley in one go. Chiba, who proudly stands behind it, says that this industry is only years away from changing our lives. According to a report by McKinsey & Co., in 10 to 15 years we could be heading to work in a flying taxi and drones could be delivering goods in the air.
Seeing Drones as ‘A Gold Rush in the Air’
As Chiba hinted in the interview, drones are “like a gold rush in the air,” and according to him, “the first movers will reap the best results.”
Chiba’s fund aims to trigger Japan’s technology industry to work towards the development of drones, mostly because the country has fallen behind in other areas. According to him, it is important for the country to focus on drones and catch up with the other markets (such as United States and China) when it comes to this industry.
This is why Chiba has launched the Drone Fund, which started as a small and oversubscribed fund in 2017, but was later moved with a $1.3 million investment (150 million yen) of his own money. Currently, the Drone Fund is raising as much as 5 billion yen in plans to develop a new concept that will focus on making the drone technology alive.
Money is ‘On The Table’ and Japan’s Government is Following
There is already money on the table, as he announced, lined up from investors such as the Mizuho Bank Ltd., KDDI Corp. and the Japanese soccer star and angel investor Keisuke Honda. Chiba’s plans are to gather as much as 50 billion yen for a third fund by 2020.
Meanwhile, it seems like the Japanese governments is trying to create the laws and infrastructure needed to put flying cars into the sky over the next decade. A group was formed for this purpose months ago, including big tech names and an initiative to see potential uses of drone technology in many industries, from delivery to tourism.