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An Advisor and Friend: The Uncle of Code Chrysalis

8/2/2022

A man who needs no introduction, Nobuyuki Idei, former CEO of Sony and Advisor to Code Chrysalis, was died peacefully departed on 2 June, 2022 at the age of 84. Today, we sit down with Kani Munidasa, CEO of Code Chrysalis, on his relationship with Idei-san, his friend and mentor.

How did you first meet Idei-san?

I asked my friend to set up a meeting and introduced me to Idei-san when Code Chrysalis was still just an idea. I was as nervous as someone who is about to meet the industry legend can possibly be (Kani chuckles). With my pitch prepared, I walked into the office where I saw Idei-san sitting behind his desk with his arms crossed and no expression - at that time the few meters between me and him felt like miles apart.I inhaled deeply to brush off the stress growing in my stomach and started my pitch. Idei-san didn’t react the entire time, not a single move, not a single expression, so I thought to myself “Once in a lifetime chance and I messed it up”. I finished my talk, he looked at me and said words that I will never forget - “Kani-san, you have to do this. This is very important for Japan. Japan needs this.”

A dream introduction! How did you approach him on becoming an advisor to CC?

After my pitch we continued the discussion, we talked about how Japan was a struggling power when it comes to software, relying on outsourcing engineers rather than having in-house. Japan needs to change the way they do software, by bringing it in house, being agile, user centric and lean to keep up with the fast changing demands of the modern user.

And just like that?

Yes, and just like that, THE Idei Nobuyuki became a Code Chrysalis advisor.I gave him a Code Chrysalis T-shirt I brought with me and to my surprise he immediately put it over his shirt and said “Let’s take a photograph.” After taking many photos in different poses he turned to me saying - “Whatever you need, I’m here.”

How did he impact CC?

He supported us from Day 1, coming onsite to meet students and talk to them. In the beginning when we only had 5 students in a small classroom, he’d come in asking questions about their work and projects. At the end, he’d open up a Q&A for everyone. I could see students were starstruck in the same way I was that first meeting we had, but he had such a warm presence making everyone feel at ease. He really was like the “Uncle” of CC (Code Chrysalis) who’d drop in once in awhile. A really bright and playful man.

Did Idei-san visit CC a lot?

Every now and then, he’d drop by the school. At some point I had a big electric scooter in the office and when he saw that he insisted on trying it out, but I was freaking out a little wondering if that was a safe idea. He did it anyway with great joy, he was always interested in everything going on at CC. He had a warm sonzai (presence), always encouraging us, and keeping us going.

When was the last time he came to CC?

It must have been the last Demo Day just before COVID. After that, he offered to come in a couple of times, but I always went to visit him directly for safety precautions. We also had adapted to working and teaching all remote at that point.

Was he advising CC through his company Quantum Leaps Corp.?

Actually no, it was purely on his own time and not his company’s time.He’s someone that has given help at the ground level. Not just making calls, but coming into the school, talking to students (even if it’s a small audience) and connecting us to people. Sometimes he’d use his resources, but we didn’t rely on him for that.

What did Idei-san’s presence mean to CC?

Just having him as an advisor changed everything. He never showed any reluctance and generously gave his name and photograph to those who asked. Once we launched CC and people saw his presence at the school and on our website, people took us seriously. He filmed for our very first introduction video * saying, 「日本に必要」”This is essential to Japan.”

Idei-san endorsing CC meant we were trusted. *Idei-san appears 3:20

What would you like people to know about Idei-san?

He was very, how do I say with the utmost respect, childlike. He had so much curiosity.Underneath his very serious strict demeanor, he’s such a child at heart. Putting others before himself, was extremely humble, and had a gentle approach on coaching us all. He listened. And every now and then, he would say one or two sharp things. Anyone could see that he was there to help, whether it was the team or the students, he came to encourage us. Ultimately, he was always thinking of how to empower others. He empowered us as a team, so that we could empower others. I definitely felt connected with him, we are both children at heart.

All and all he was always generous.  I miss him greatly.

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Thank you Idei-san for your guidance and kindness throughout the years. We will greatly miss your presence as a friend, mentor, and Uncle of Code Chrysalis. With your immediate support from the very beginning, we honor your work and presence by continuing to strengthen our own work. By listening, guiding, and empowering ourselves and others to spread their wings the way you showed us.

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