Interview with Shuji Nakamura -- "The more I fall into the quagmire, the more ideas I get" (page 4)

Interview with Shuji Nakamura

Apr 9, 2001

Q:Depending on the results of your continuous research on GaN, do you think that you may start a business before beginning your development of a new material?

A:There will absolutely be no chance that I will do that. It is possible that my pupils will start a business by using GaN, but I don't have any intention of doing it myself. If I were to start a business, it would be by using a new material that I invent.

Q: Is there a possibility that you will work for a large company if you get a good offer?

A:Absolutely not. Nothing good comes of working at a large company. I felt it strongly after coming to the U.S. The more I get to know about the U.S., the more I realize that there is no appeal to large companies. There is no difference in the amount of money you get between working at large companies and venture businesses. But with venture companies, you have brighter perspectives due to stock options. Even if your venture business goes bankruptcy, you can still start up another new business because investors provide the funds. In contrast, large companies offer little possibility for your shares to soar, even if they have the stock option system. That is why almost all talented people prefer venture businesses.

Let's quit your company

Q:So, what do you think engineers working at Japanese companies should do?

A:I think that Japanese engineers should quit their company with a positive prospect. Their compensations are bad because they all work until their retirement age. If they change their jobs more often, companies will start making an effort to keep their talented employees. It is the same as declarations by baseball free agents. Outstanding engineers should all go to the U.S. so that Japan will make a national strategy to do something about it.

Q: Do you think that companies can change, if individual engineers make an effort to change themselves?

A:I myself was a very loyal employee right before I quitted Nichia. Japanese people in general give faith to their supervisors. It is probably that their faithfulness is written in their genes and they have not been able to erase them. This gene is still alive at the company level. It is no easy matter to destroy it. But each engineer must take an action otherwise nothing will change forever.

Q:Do you have an intention to start up a business with the aim of changing the old Japanese corporate culture?

A:Even if I took an action to start up a company, the Japanese system at large would not change. I think that I will probably go back to Japan once I can no longer do any good job. After all, I am Japanese. But I have never thought about my retirement yet.

Interviewed by Naoki Asami, Editor-in-Chief of Nikkei Electronics