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This article was published on May 17, 2013

Facebook hires new head in Japan, just days after rival Mixi brought in a 30-year old CEO

Facebook hires new head in Japan, just days after rival Mixi brought in a 30-year old CEO
Jon Russell
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Jon Russell

Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.

There’s a change at the top at Facebook….in Japan, where the company has hired former McDonalds and Boston Consulting Group marketing exec Atsushi Iwashita as its new Managing Director.

The news is reported in Markezinevia Asiajin — although Iwashita, who was most recently CEO at brand consultancy firm Interbrand Japan, is still to update his LinkedIn profile to reflect his new role. The move comes at an interesting time for social networks in the country, as the top sites are refocusing their management to capture young audiences and double-down on mobile.

Local rival Mixi replaced its founder with a new (and notably very young) CEO on Monday. Now 30-year-old Yusuke Asakura will lead the company, becoming only the second CEO in Mixi’s 9-year history.

That change to inject more youth and appeal comes in response to Mixi’s continued decline and Facebook’s growth in Japan. Last September, Facebook overtook Mixi as it hit 15 million monthly active users in the country. That was a significant moment since Japan had been one of the few remaining markets where Facebook was not the dominant network.

Asiajin speculates that the two are near neck-and-neck right now, so there’s still all to play for in the lucrative market, where Twitter is actually the most popular social service (thanks to its simple and efficient mobile experience).

Locally developed messaging app Line has shown the kinds of revenues that social services can make in the country. A whopping 80 percent of the $58 million revenue it made in Q1 2013 came via Japan, and Mixi and Facebook will be aiming to grow their user base and presence on mobile in pursuit of a piece of that pie.

You can also add private social network Path to that list too.

The company launched its Asia-inspired Path 3.0 service, featuring stickers and virtual content popular in the continent, in March having appointed a general manager for Japan/Asia last year. Path has long said that Asia is its fastest growing region, with Japan and Korea two of its key markets.

Headline image via laughingsquid / Flickr