12:00-14:00 Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Founder of SNS Inc. and Former President of Livedoor
Known in Japan as 'Horiemon' for his resemblance to a popular cartoon character, Takafumi Horie is one of Japan's most controversial entrepreneurs boasting a bio that reads more like a CSI: Miami police drama script than that of an influential business leader. When the Tokyo University dropout who founded Livedoor internet company was arrested in 2006 for securities fraud, the economic impact saw the Nikkei index plummet 465 points and caused the Tokyo Stock Exchange to close 20 minutes early for the first time in its history.
While the media demonized Horie for his unconventional ways and his contempt for corporate Japan, it also capitalized on the entertainment value he offered. He burst into the national spotlight in 2004 when he unsuccessfully tried to buy the Kintetsu Buffaloes baseball team. The following year was a watershed year for Horie. In one 12-month period, he ran as an independent political candidate in Hiroshima, unveiled plans for space tourism using a vehicle based on a Russian TKS spacecraft, and even attempted a hostile takeover of Fuji TV. Japan's M&A laws were hastily rewritten to prevent such takeovers. Arrested in 2006, he was eventually found guilty and was incarcerated in 2011 for fabricating financial reports and spreading false information to investors. But Horie continues to assert his innocence.
Having served 21 months of a 30-month sentence, he was released from prison on March 28. After apologizing to shareholders and society for the trouble he caused, he said that his jail term gave him time to think about what he wants to do with his future. Once regarded in the media as the symbol of a new Japanese youth willing to challenge the establishment and seniority-based society, Horie has swallowed his pride and now says he wishes to influence society in a positive way by helping ex-prisoners get back on their feet. He also wishes to pursue an email magazine business and revisit his space tourism project. Come to hear Horie’s take on Japan’s current economic situation, Abe-nomics, the weaker yen and Japan’s position in Asia.