Kenzo Tsujimoto was born in Nara in 1940. After completing Unebi high-school (part-time), he joined the family food wholesaling business while studying accounting in his spare time. He left the family business at the age of 22 to open his own confectionery products store in the city Osaka in 1966. Next, he started selling cotton candy machines.
Around 1970, he started selling gaming machines after seeing a pachinko machine designed for children. He was soon serving customers throughout Japan. This success led to the 1974 establishment of a gaming machine production and sales company called "IPM Co., Ltd.". Sales of the popular invader game made the company very successful, but performance dropped sharply after the invader game boom ended.
Tsujimoto then turned his attention to developing game software by founding Capcom in 1983. Initially, the company developed mostly arcade machines. Capcom soon began developing software for home video games as sales of "Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)" took off around the world. Capcom developed "Mega Man", "Street Fighter" and a number of game series that were big hits in Japan and other countries. Capcom became publicly owned in 1990. Under Tsujimoto's leadership, the company then grew into one of the world's leading video game publishers after enacting structural reforms on a number of occasions. In 2007, he became chairman and chief executive officer in order to focus exclusively on the management of Capcom.
First of all, I must determine the direction in which to guide Capcom. A company exists for the purpose of benefiting its customers. Our mission is to create products that make customers happy and provide those products at suitable prices. My responsibility as CEO is to decide what must be done to fulfill this mission and then see that these actions are taken.
Another role is ensuring the company's long-term stability. I want to meet the expectations of people who invest in Capcom because they recognize our strengths and of our employees, who joined Capcom because they believe in our future. Meeting expectations requires generating profits while holding mistakes to the absolute minimum. We must also distribute earnings and other benefits to all stakeholders. In addition, Capcom must maintain a stable base of operations so that employees can stay with us until retirement.
My most important mission right now is the smooth transition of Capcom's management to the next generation members. I do not plan on staying at Capcom forever. This is why I am creating management systems that incorporate the know-how I gained over the years as the company's founder. By leaving these systems for the next generation of managers, I hope to maintain a base that will allow Capcom to remain strong for many more years.
The next generation must ensure that Capcom survives well into the future and protect the well-being of a large number of employees. Accomplishing these goals demands rigorous cash flow management in order to make Capcom even more powerful. As quickly as possible, I want to Capcom to acquire the strength needed to survive even during challenging times. Then I will entrust the company's management to the next generation.
"Creativity" is Capcom's greatest strength. Few if any companies in the world are capable of creating a steady stream of new content as we have. The skills of all our creators make this possible. But equally important is a corporate culture that encourages our employees to realize their full potential by freely drawing on their creativity.
I have worked hard on creating this type of organization. I want our staffs to feel free to take on new challenges. If they fail, we have a safety net in place. Giving employees peace of mind by telling them it's all right to fail is critical to making everyone willing to accept challenges.
Capcom has a workforce of more than 1,600. That makes it especially difficult to find opportunities to talk with younger employees. About 10 years ago, I started holding birthday meetings for all employees with a birthday in a particular month. These meetings gave me a chance to talk with them one-to-one. Furthermore, this meeting system is fair. After all, everyone has a birthday.
We talk about many things at these birthday meetings. Direct contact like this allows me to learn what's going on throughout the company and hear about problems. For employees, I want these meetings to be another source of motivation.
I am convinced that the Capcom will be ideally positioned for success about 20 years from now. The reason is simple: Rising productivity will alter the values of people around the world. When Japan was a poor country, people sought value in "physical goods" in order to make their lives more fulfilling. This involved mainly food, clothing and shelter. Next, people in Japan started seeking spiritual satisfaction as they became more affluent. Games and other types of entertainment content are not "physical goods". But they are a source of added value in the form of enjoyment. I think people around the world will be seeking this type of satisfaction in the future. At that time, everything that Capcom has been doing up to now will become the standard of operations for companies worldwide.
Making outstanding products is impossible if you imitate others. A product has value because it is something that no one else can make. The same is true of management. Winning is possible because of qualities that exist nowhere else. Don't compare yourself with others. Think by using your own system of values. Originality and ingenuity are vital with respect to everything you do.
I play about 60 rounds of golf every year. When I play, I walk around the course instead of ride in a cart to stay healthy. I like golf because you can see the result in numbers. I keep a handbook with my scores over the past 20 years so that I can easily check my performance.
I have trouble finishing books about business because they make me think about many things. But historical novels put me in a different frame of mind because they have nothing at all to do with my work. I especially enjoy stories about right and wrong, like detective stories. I think these stories are very interesting entertainment.
Meals at home are a valuable opportunity to be with my family. I really don't have any other time to myself. I feel like I am always at work. Even golf is not a game for me. Playing golf is also a type of job in which I aim for the score I set as my target.
As I grow older, my true nature is becoming increasingly apparent. I have always liked to have everything neat and well organized. As I have grown older, I have become even more unable to tolerate things that are not well organized. I don't like to see anything that is not precisely in its place.
I have come to know many executives by playing golf. I have been friends with Mr. Toshifumi Suzuki, who is essentially the founder of Seven-Eleven Japan for almost 20 years. I respect him for his ability to succeed in the difficult retailing industry by constantly taking on new challenges.
My father died when I was young, so I worked while I was in high school. Finding the time for both my studies and work was not easy. But my life isn't easy even today (laughs). I didn't go skiing, play mahjong or participate in any other recreational activities that are usually part of a student's life. Maybe that's why I decided to make games my career.
About 30 years ago, before I established Capcom, I sold invader games and karaoke machines. I recall singing in my office to check the performance of these machines. Even now, I can sing about 100 old songs.
A lifetime covers many years. If you work hard, you will steadily refine your skills as you grow older. By this, I don't mean employees should be "late bloomers." Never go after only short-term goals. Take a step back to take an objective look at the world today. Then move forward with originality and ingenuity. People who can do this will do their jobs well and lead a happy and rewarding life.
I have been the ACCS chairman for about 15 years. In the past, disputes about copyrights were usually between companies. In recent years, though, there have been many copyright incidents that involve individuals. I think that determining how to create a framework for protecting intellectual property will be critical to business activities in Japan in the future.