In the current issue of Fortune, venture capitalist Roger McNamee warns, “The number of charlatans masquerading as CEOs just boggles the mind.” In supposedly well-ordered Japan, the statement can have more frightening meaning.
According to today’s Financial Times, yakuza, Japan’s gangsters, are infiltrating new economy companies. Masafumi Okanda, who was president of online music retailer Liquid Audio Japan, was recently arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a former colleague who planned to start a rival business.
The yakuza used to plague Japan’s blue chip companies, particularly at AGMs, where they would disrupt meetings if a protection money payoff had not been given. Since the law has cracked down on the abuse, they have turned to the easier, less visible prey of start-up companies. Don’t technology companies have enough problems these days?