Walter Chen

Walter Chen

22-04-2021

12:16

masa was 16 when he met the man who changed the course of his life. sitting across from den fujita, founder of mcdonalds japan, masa asked for advice on what he should work on. "computers", fujita said. that started masa on his path to building softbank and his $45B fortune.

den fujita had written a bestselling book called 'the jewish way of doing business'. (we'll get back to that) it impressed masa so much that he called fujita’s office almost 100 times before buying a plane ticket to tokyo, just to try to “see his face for 3 minutes”

fujita is best known for founding mcdonalds japan, opening the first in a glitzy location in ginza in 1971, and for introducing american-style marketing flair and hands-on management techniques to the staid japanese business world.

fujita marketed the burger by saying that it'd make japanese people taller, blonder and "physically competitive in the international world" per fujita "the reason japanese people are so short and have yellow skins is because they have eaten nothing but fish & rice for 2,000 yrs"

in his books, he wrote that jews had settled in his hometown of osaka 1,000 years ago which made osakan businessmen "craftier" than their tokyo counterparts. he felt an affinity for jewish people rooted in the discrimination he faced as an osakan and called himself a "ginza jew"

a lifelong contrarian, fujita summarized his attitude to life as "if 80% of the people say this is wrong, then you do it. if 80% say do it, don't go that way" masa & fujita shared their outsiderness in common, as masa was an ethnic korean in japan who experienced racism as a kid

when fujita finally agreed to meet 16 yr old masa, he told him "don't look at the past industries, look at the future industries." he said that if he was at masa's age starting today, he would focus on computers. masa took his counsel and studied computer science at berkeley.

as a student at berkeley, he made $3.2M by inventing an electronic dictionary which he sold to sharp for $1.7M and by importing arcade games from japan. he used that money to start softbank and went on to become one of the richest people in the world.

fujita later brought toys r us to japan and fujita himself ended up as a billionaire. later on, masa & fujita teamed up again when masa added fujita to softbank’s board of directors.

fujita passed in 2004 as the 437th richest person in the world and he made a posthumous splash by leaving one of the largest ever inheritance tax liabilities in japanese history.



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