Interviews

NewsPicks USA CTO

Joined 2014

Satoru Okawa

Satoru is originally from Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. He graduated from the the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Tokyo. He currently serves as CTO at NewsPicks USA (http://newspicks.us/about/). In his years as a university student, he joined a start-up, but as there was an absence of engineers, he had to acquire necessary skills by watching others. After graduating, Satoru officially joined that company and engaged in project management. After that, he moved on to NewsPicks where he is working now. Although generally liked by children, he is hated by his nephew.

My Challenge

I Want to Assemble a Team of Talented US Engineers and Do Something Interesting

2018.05.30

My Challenge

I Want to Assemble a Team of Talented US Engineers and Do Something Interesting

2018.05.30
NewsPicks is my second company; the first company I joined was a series A start-up, and I was hired there as a new graduate.

Since I joined that start-up from early on, my job title was high, but I felt a sense of impending crisis, as I realised I did not have a future in a position for which I didn’t have the necessary skills. I was looking for a place to apply myself, and then I was introduced to NewsPicks by an acquaintance who also switched his job to join the company.

After joining NewsPicks, I have been involved in the process of building various systems and operations with a team which is constantly expanding, and now I am working as CTO of NewsPicks USA.

Although the Japanese version of NewsPicks has been around since 2013, the US version was just released in 2017. Together with select few members, we are currently creating our own product from scratch, including application development, operation, and even UI/UX design. This process is pretty challenging, but also greatly rewarding.

Up until now, I have been consistently involved in start-ups, but because I do new things with new members, often there is no work-related expertise accumulated yet and there is always a lot of fumbling around. There was a time when I had this groundless belief that large companies must have it much easier, and suffered because of it. However, if you learn how to make an effort in an unexplored field and how to produce results, you can make progress without stopping even in a situation that you do not understand; and while doing it, you start thinking that, maybe, it can be a little fun to step up to new challenges.

We only just opened our US branch and are still in the middle of the challenging process of cultivating the market as well as creating a new form of media, so, of course, there are times when we need to overcome various difficulties.

In moments like these, I always remember the words of Niino-san, one of the co-founders of UZABASE: “We need to keep trying, because it will lead us to a future we couldn’t even imagine. It gets really hard and tiresome at times; but you need to think, ‘Ah, this is hard for me’ and accept it. If you lie to yourself, you will soon reach the limit.”

At UZABASE, there are many people, including executives, who work hard towards their goals, making good on their own promises. I am still amazed by the unwillingness to feel content with the current situation and being true to their own words in this company.

In future, I hope to work with members who have this strong challenging spirit, and if we can earn enough to attract talented US engineers, we could do something really interesting as a tech team.

※ This interview content is based on the information at the time when the interview was taken place. The member's current team and occupation may be different.

Message from Satoru Okawa

If you believe that there are things that cannot be compromised, I think you will be a good fit for UZABASE. With the work quality here, taking care of family, using 40 hours a week for hobbies... Anything is fine. Even with circumstances that ordinary companies would not understand, UZABASE will probably accomplish somehow. Let's use our individual differences to bring growth to the world!

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