Yuko Sasahara Watanabe, president and CEO of NTT Docomo Ventures is one of the 100 leading corporate venturing professionals in our Powerlist this year.

Yuko Sasahara Watanabe became president and CEO of NTT Docomo Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Japan-based telecommunication firm NTT Group’s mobile network subsidiary, NTT Docomo, in June 2021. Sasahara Watanabe took control of the unit from Takayuki Inagawa – himself a GCV Powerlist award winner in 2020 – after he was promoted to general manager and head of the innovation management department for NTT Docomo.

Previously, Sasahara Watanabe was responsible for co-creating new innovative businesses with entrepreneurs through NTT Docomo’s 39works programme. She also worked in the company as a product and service design specialist and co-developed the concept and technical specifications of i-mode service, an internet-based service for mobile phones, which was originally launched in 1999.

The unit has invested in almost 170 companies in a bid to accelerate innovation on behalf of the NTT Group

Yuko Sasahara Watanabe

NTT Docomo Ventures was founded in 2008 and has invested in almost 170 companies in a bid to accelerate innovation on behalf of the NTT Group. It seeks cooperation opportunities with entrepreneurs globally by providing capital from its CVC vehicles and business development initiatives with NTT’s group companies.

Recent investments that NTT Docomo Ventures has participated in include the ¥5.4bn ($40m) series B round for knowledge engine Baseconnect Japan, and the $66m series D raise for Sitetracker, a critical infrastructure platform. It has also invested in big data platform RapidSOS, which raised $75m in a round that also included Honeywell, Microsoft’s M12 Fund and Citi’s Impact Fund. Sasahara Watanabe has an MBA from the Sloan Fellows Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

See the full 2023 Powerlist