Our purpose, "To Break Through Stagnation with New Power and the Internet," was established in October 2021, and is based on our conviction that continuing to develop new markets and create new businesses will lead to the sustainable growth of the company and the vitalization of society.
While we have launched a variety of unique initiatives to continue creating new businesses, one of our leading initiatives has been our "Ashita Kaigi" (Meeting for Tomorrow).
Since its inception in 2006, Ashita Kaigi has resulted in the establishment of 32 subsidiaries. From these new businesses, we have generated cumulative sales of roughly 325.9* billion yen and an operating income of around 45.5* billion yen, thereby greatly contributing to our business expansion.
Below, we reintroduce Ashita Kaigi, which we regard as a management meeting that is critical for CyberAgent's sustainable growth.
*As of September 30, 2021
Creating a variety of growth-critical mechanisms, including mainstay businesses and HR development initiatives
"Ashita Kaigi" is a meeting (=kaigi) in which new business initiatives and solutions that could improve CyberAgent's future (=ashita) are proposed and decided upon. The meeting is held 1–2 times a year in a training camp format, for which each director assembles teams by selecting people from among our business leaders and specialists. Fujita, the company's president, rates the teams, and they compete for these points.
For about a month after the teams are formed, each team evaluates the market trends and areas that need to be enhanced, and then carefully selects some of the very best ideas from among the many workplace ideas and challenges they researched. Of the 30 or so proposals made, 15 to 20 are settled on, and the meeting serves as a valuable opportunity to create new businesses and solve business challenges.
Some proposals have become mainstays of CyberAgent's existing operations, such as in the game business, or have led to the creation of a department dedicated to assessing staff conditions and matching the right person to the right job. Others have led to a management system able to appropriately evaluate staff regardless of widely differing working styles―and these are just some examples. Several procedures and systems have been realized to mitigate various medium- to long-term risks and facilitate continued growth, both offensively and defensively.
From these new businesses, we have generated cumulative sales of around 325.9 billion yen and an operating income of around 45.5 billion yen, thereby greatly contributing to business expansion.
DX- and AI-driven unstaffed stores accelerate the development and commercialization of new markets
In order to maintain growth in the fast-changing internet industry, it is important for us to respond quickly to changes in the environment and consumer preferences, and continue developing new businesses. Since its founding, CyberAgent's strength has been its ability to respond to change by quickly "create new businesses in response to change" and "turn risk into opportunity" amid major trends.
For example, an Ashita Kaigi held during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the establishment of a subsidiary specializing in corporate DX implementation, as well as a subsidiary that offers and develops AI-driven unstaffed store solutions for retailers.
Although the company-wide Ashita Kaigi is held just once a year, several other Ashita Kaigi meetings are held across CyberAgent at every subsidiary, business unit, division, and occupational category.
While the examples below are just a few of many, Ashita Kaigi provides an opportunity to quickly identify growing markets and current trends and commercialize them by exchanging ideas at various locations throughout the year.
More resembles a "board meeting" than a "business plan competition"
Ashita Kaigi meetings, which are attended by the entire management team, are not simply business plan competitions for proposing new businesses, but more on par with a board of directors meeting where critical management information is presented and major decisions are made.
In preparing their proposals, participants need to have a broader perspective than their own day-to-day work, see things through the eyes of a business leader, and instantly catch up with President Fujita's awareness of issues. Given that teams are formed across multiple departments, this also provides an opportunity for internal networking.
Riku Yamada, Managing Executive Officer at CyberAgent, gives insight on how Ashita Kaigi is CyberAgent's unique way of making decisions:
When anyone at CyberAgent hears that "it was decided at the Ashita Kaigi meeting," they readily accept it. What makes this significant, in my opinion, is that decisions are not simply made behind closed doors by executives, but rather include the involvement of company employees, even if not all of them. Employees participate in the discussion, and even matters involving personnel transfers are approved by the managers present, ensuring that everyone makes decisions that are best for the company's future, not just for their own departments.
With President Fujita making decisions on the spot and both management and employees participating in the conversation, the decision-making process is infused with conviction, and quick action is taken to implement the decisions. When the decision to establish a company is made, the procedure can be completed in as little as three days. This extraordinary efficiency and speed is another aspect that is unique to Ashita Kaigi, which is constantly launching new ventures.
Through Ashita Kaigi and other initiatives, we will continue realizing new businesses and mechanisms for growth, contributing to employment and Japan's economic growth via new value creation, and striving to realize a vibrant society. It is all part of our commitment to "break through stagnation with new power and the internet."