This year, two heavyweights of the entertainment industry: Japanese pop legend EXILE HIRO and BTS mastermind Lenzo Yoon, will be taking to the stage for Rakuten Optimism 2022, Rakuten’s biggest annual business event.
Both stars will join Rakuten Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani for sessions on the future of entertainment, alongside a growing lineup of thought leaders and tech luminaries. As the schedule continues to fill out, the two-day virtual conference is shaping up to be bigger than ever before.T
The future of entertainment with EXILE HIRO
With over two decades at the top of Japanese pop, it’s hard to overstate the impact that EXILE has had on the global music industry.
Born in Kanagawa, Japan, HIRO made his debut as a member of ZOO in 1990. Moving forward he launched J Soul Brothers in 1999 which transformed into the legendary EXILE in 2001. HIRO led the group as a performer and mentor, solidifying EXILE as legends in the hearts of the Japanese public.
In 2013, HIRO stepped down from the group as a performer, and in December of 2015 he was awarded the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Award from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, which is given to those who have made outstanding achievements in arts and cultural activities, in recognition as a catalyst for change in the Industry and established a new precedent for Dance Vocal groups widely seen as a renaissance in the Japanese music industry, as well as his extraordinary insight as a producer.
On Wednesday, September 28, EXILE HIRO will join Mickey Mikitani and creative director Kashiwa Sato at Rakuten Optimism 2022, where he will reveal his perspective on the future of an industry he has helped shape.
Sato, meanwhile, has long represented Japan on a different cultural front, designing countless iconic Japanese brands and logos such as those of Uniqlo, 7-11 and, of course, Rakuten. He has joined Rakuten Optimism in previous years to explore the uniqueness of Japanese branding strategies, and even reminisced with CEO Mikitani about Rakuten’s own branding history.
Behind the BTS phenomenon: Lenzo Yoon
Day two of the Optimism conference will see Mikitani joined by another legend of the entertainment industry: HYBE America CEO Lenzo Yoon.
Lenzo was an instrumental figure in the formation and debut of a certain South Korean outfit which has come to dominate the global music scene: BTS.
Alongside founder and Chairman Bang Si Hyuk, he laid the foundation for future K-pop acts to follow by creating and introducing new, innovative K-pop business models. First as business and content strategist then as co-CEO of HYBE and its global CEO, his new approaches to creating and delivering content that can create a powerful fandom have been adopted by the K-POP industry as well as the worldwide music market.
Now as co-CEO of HYBE America, Lenzo is focused on expanding HYBE’s successful track record into new ventures, including a joint venture with Universal Music Group to create a new global pop group in the United States.
Lenzo was named on the 2022 Billboard Power List as well as the Billboard Indie Power Players and International Power Players lists in 2021. He received the Korean American Community Foundation Trailblazer Award in 2020 for his contributions to the Korean-American community and the expansion of Korean culture around the world.
Few know the inside story of the modern music scene as well as Lenzo, and his conversation with Mikitani will be a must-watch for anyone with their eye on the modern entertainment landscape.
Tech & Green: The future is in motion
The 2022 Optimism conference is shaping up to be the most action-packed event of Rakuten’s history. Joining a growing list of speakers will be veteran climate advisor Takejiro Sueyoshi, climate activist Shiina Tsuyuki and energy innovator Yohei Kiguchi across a number of sessions focused on sustainability.
A session on the future of global telecommunications will welcome two alumni of the US Federal Communications Commission: Joining former chairman Ajit Pai will be William E. Kennard, who also served as chairman during the Clinton administration – a period during which much of America was connected to the internet for the first time and wireless telephony underwent exponential growth – later returning to the public service to serve as Ambassador to the European Union under President Barack Obama.
Kennard’s appearance adds to an already formidable list of telecommunications luminaries which includes Telefónica CEO José María Álvarez-Pallete López, 1&1 Mobilfunk CEO Michael Martin and Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony CEO Tareq Amin.
Empowering economies through fintech
On the financial front, Visa president Ryan McInerney will share his insights on the role of payments in a sustainable society, while Ming Maa of Southeast Asian super-app Grab will take to the stage to explore how his app and others are empowering economies around the globe.
Following a theme of Tech & Green: The future is in motion, Rakuten Optimism 2022 will tackle everything from sustainability in tech to entertainment. Make sure to register in advance and tune in for free online, wherever you are in the world.