The top 25: Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO and CIO, Sony Innovation Fund and Innovation Growth Ventures

Gen Tsuchikawa is vice-president (VP) of corporate development for Japan-headquartered electronics producer Sony Corporation and chief executive and chief investment manager of its corporate venture capital (CVC) vehicles: Sony Innovation Fund (SIF) and Innovation Growth Fund (IGF), with over $250m under management.

Hiroki Totoki, representative corporate executive officer, senior executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Sony, said: “Over the last 15 years, Gen has embodied Sony’s ongoing commitment to innovation, an attribute which runs throughout our company’s DNA.

“He has driven a wide range of strategic initiatives, spanning the spectrum of Sony’s diverse businesses worldwide. Under Gen’s leadership, SIF has grown from its founding in 2016 into an established venture firm while promoting open innovation throughout Sony.

“Now with over 60 investments, Gen and his global team provide tremendous value to entrepreneurs across the globe and have expanded our vision and reach by spearheading the newly launched IGF, in partnership with Daiwa Capital Holdings.

“From CVC activities and IGF to countless business development initiatives, Gen and the SIF team are incubating the next generation of technologies and startups while bringing Sony closer to the world’s creators.”

In the past year, SIF has backed companies in diverse areas including intelligent retail technology provider Trax, strawberry vertical farm operator Oishii Farm, identity verification software developer Identiq, Maestro, video processing system provider EdgeMatrix, cloud game service Ubitus, open banking payment protocol developer Token and livestreaming platform developer Maestro.

The corporate also has the $150m IGF launched in mid-2019, which was formed in partnership with Daiwa Capital to expand Sony’s commitment to investing in industries including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, mobility, IoT (the internet of things), entertainment, medtech, fintech and sportstech from mid to late stage.

In addition, Sony also formed the $9.4m Sony Innovation Fund: Environment in September 2020 to target environmental technology developers at the seed stage. Toshimoto Mitomo, senior investment executive at SIF, said at the time: “With its CVC activities, Sony has promoted open innovation by nurturing technologies and startups for the next generation.

“Through the activities of this new environment-focused fund, Sony aims to accelerate innovation that will help solve global environmental issues and contribute to the progress and development of society.”

Regarding the corporate venturing industry, Tsuchikawa said: “There is still education to be done about how CVCs are positioned in the landscape, for example, correcting the idea that most CVC investments lead to an acquisition. As CVCs continue to mature, we also believe there is more of an opportunity to take the lead on investments, which has historically not been the case.

“Overall, we believe that CVC has proven its value to both corporations and the entrepreneur community in the last decade and look forward to seeing how the industry continues to evolve.”

Collaboration with co-investors, internal business units or entrepreneurs is essential, Tsuchikawa added. “We encourage the entire CVC community to think about how we can further collaboration efforts in both new and existing ways all in the spirit of innovation.”

Tsuchikawa joined Sony in 2004 as senior VP of corporate development and treasury for its US electronics operations, having had more than 30 years of investment and M&A experience across industries including banking, wealth management and enterprise.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.