Rehito (Ray) Hatoyama is Chief Strategy Officer of Human Made. Ray is a member of the Baukunst Creative Technologist Council specializing in blending IP and new technology, and is a Limited Partner in Baukunst’s debut $100M fund. We sat down with him at the recent Baukunst Creative Technologist Conference in San Francisco.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Q: Do you identify as a creative technologist? And if so, what does being a creative technologist mean to you?
A: I don't know whether I'm a creative technologist. However, I love bridging creative and technology. I was the global CEO for Hello Kitty and grew the brand from a $500 million company to a $6.5 billion company in five years. I connected Hello Kitty with technology (like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) and turned Hello Kitty from analog to digital. And that's how I grew the brand. I feel like there's a lot of opportunity to do this with old industry and new industry - connect them together and grow the business. And so if you call that creative technologist, then I might be that.
Q: Who or what - it doesn't have to be a person - is in your creative ecosystem? Who's on your team?
A: I work with lots of creative people. I am Chief Strategy Officer for a brand called Human Made– this is what I'm wearing. Human made. The creative director is called Nigo. He had a brand called Bathing Ape. Now he's artistic director for Kenzo. And he's my business partner for the Human Made brand. Pharrell Williams is our ambassador. So I work with his team as well. This is a collaboration with A$AP Rocky. So there's so many creative people around me who I interact with.
Q: What problems are you working to solve?
A: I'm trying to connect global IP with new technologies. There's a lot of new technologies in the US and there's a lot of great IP in Japan and Asia. For example, we have Pokemon, Mario, Dragonborn…so much IP. Some of them have succeeded in new technology. Some of them haven't. Some of them became global. Some of them are not. I am bridging this gap.
I'm a board observer for Peanuts, which is Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Interestingly, these characters have been in the world for 25 years, 50 years, 70 years. You see this NFT movement right now. This IP is in year one, year two, year three. And they need to survive in order to build that history of 50 to 70 years. How can they do that? The new industry needs to learn from the old industry.