A former managing director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. who recently became one of the very few female leaders of a listed company in Japan is setting her sights on becoming the dominant player in the country’s arcade game industry.
(Bloomberg) — A former managing director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. who recently became one of the very few female leaders of a listed company in Japan is setting her sights on becoming the dominant player in the country’s arcade game industry.
Mai Shin founded Genda Inc. in 2018 after working at the Wall Street bank for 11 years in bond sales and product development in rates and FX. The company operates gaming arcades, which offer video games but also prize-winning games such as claw machines, mostly in Japan but also the US and Taiwan, having grown its business chiefly through acquisitions.
Genda went public on July 28 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and is valued at 69.6 billion yen ($484 million), making Shin a part of a tiny group of female leaders of listed companies. Just 0.4% of Japanese firms included in the MSCI ACWI Index have a woman at the top, compared to 4.3% in Hong Kong and 6.7% in the US, according to MSCI’s Women On Boards Progress Report in 2022.
Working among other women at Goldman Sachs provided her with important role models that made her develop a sense of responsibility to younger generations, said Shin.
“The range of options widens for everyone when there are different choices available to women,” she said. “I want to contribute to society by showing and expanding the range of choices.”
Shin said she recognized an opportunity in the gaming market after seeing that even the major players in the industry only made up about 40% of market share, and decided to leave Goldman Sachs to start Genda just months after being promoted to managing director.
The 39 year-old, who is also recognizable in Japan as a model for fashion magazine VERY, said that she had always wanted to try doing something out of the ordinary, citing in part her experience feeling different growing up as part of Japan’s ethnic Korean minority in Osaka.
The overall amusement sector in Japan is shrinking alongside the overall population, but sales of crane games and other prize-winning games have increased to 306 billion yen in 2021 from 257 billion yen in 2006, according to the Japan Amusement Industry Association. Shin cited the growing popularity of anime and games for the increase.
To capture that trend, Genda is focusing on buying up arcade center operators, and Shin sees opportunities in particular in businesses founded in the 1970s that are now having succession issues. The most notable acquisition to date has been Sega Entertainment, a subsidiary of entertainment company Sega Sammy Holdings Inc., which it bought in December 2020 for an undisclosed amount.
Genda now owns 251 arcades in Japan, and five abroad. It also plans to expand its acquisition targets to crane-machine makers, and content creation companies in the longer term. Shin said the company also has ambitions to create its own content by 2040.
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