Meet the 26-year-old Japanese tech billionaire Riku Tazumi – He made a fortune by starting an unconventional YouTuber talent agency that instead of celebrities and influencers manages virtual avatars and AI idols.

Riku Tazumi listed his five-year-old company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange this year and is now worth US$1.1 billion. Photo: Riku Tazumi/Facebook

Riku Tazumi is already a successful businessman and even a billionaire – at just age 26. The Japanese founder of Anycolor Inc., a company that houses virtual YouTuber (VTuber) agencies, has managed to build an enormous fortune through the niche industry.

Tokyo-based Riku Tazumi has been able to capitalise on Asia’s love of virtual influencers with his VTuber company. Photo: Max Kinoshita Yoshihiko/Facebook

Tazumi’s journey to becoming one of the youngest billionaires in his home country started when he was still at university. Like many tech titans, he banked on his skills and eventually reaped the rewards of success.

So who is he exactly, and how did he emerge as one of the wealthiest leaders in the world of VTube?

Riku Tazumi has been working hard to build Anycolor since the age of 21, and looks unlikely to take a break from his passion project. Photo: Max Kinoshita Yoshihiko/Facebook

He postponed his studies to focus on his start-up
Tazumi founded Anycolor (formerly Ichikara Inc.) when he was still a university student. According to Forbes, the Japanese entrepreneur founded his company in 2017 at the age of 21, before deciding to suspend his studies to focus on the start-up.

As the parent company of several VTuber agencies, Anycolor rakes in its profits through its management of virtual idols and creators. The company has grown significantly in recent years and publicly listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in June.

Also read -  Home Depot founder's under construction 364-feet long superyacht was covered in graffiti, and for a good reason. Built by the same shipyard that constructed Jeff Bezos' Koru sailing yacht this vessel will have two cinemas, a winter garden, a beach club lounge, and a swimming pool.

A screen grab of virtual YouTuber Millie Parfait being interviewed by Anycolor’s CEO Riku Tazumi. Photo: Captured online

His start-up has now grown into a multimillion-dollar corporation
According to Bloomberg, Anycolor’s share value has jumped eightfold since going public. As of October 2022, the company is worth around US$2.5 billion, making it one of the top market performers this year.

From here on out, the only way seems to be up for Tazumi and his group. In 2020, Forbes reported that the company raised investment backing to the tune of US$6.5 million from its investors, helping the group to expand to South Korea, Indonesia, India and China, and significantly increasing its value.

Anycolor’s Virtual YouTuber agency Nijisanji is its most popular, featuring hundreds of virtual idols. Photo: Nijisanji

His biggest project is Nijisanji, which has millions of subscribers
The VTuber agency Nijisanji is Anycolor’s biggest moneymaker to date. With its vast online army of digital avatars, it has become a huge hit among its followers. Nijisanji features more than 100 virtual characters including Millie Parfait, Kanae and Kuzuha, each of which has their own unique story.

With an impressive 50 million subscribers following the agency’s VTubers, the group is able to sell merchandise and music to its fans all over the world.

CEO of Anycolor Riku Tazumi was recognised by Forbes in 2020 as being among Asia’s 30 most notable professionals. Photo: @riku_tazumi/Twitter

He was named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30
In 2020, Tazumi was named one of Asia’s 30 most notable professionals in the world of media, marketing and advertising. Forbes acknowledged his success in the world of VTube, calling him the “industry leader”.

Also read -  Russia's richest man who cleverly saved his $300 million superyacht from getting seized by the US authorities may end up losing the 345 feet long Nirvana to his ex-wife in one of the world's priciest divorces.

He was in good company. Other notable names that year included Burmese journalist Kyaw Soe Oo, and the Chinese founders of the mega popular Wuta Camera app, Chen Hao and Zhou Li.

Pleased as punch: not even 30 years old, Riku Tazumi’s VTuber company has launched into the stratosphere. Photo: @SelenTatsuki/Twitter

He is now worth US$1.1 billion
With his 45 per cent stake in Anycolor, the Japanese entrepreneur’s net worth has now ballooned to over US$1.1 billion. But given his age, one can only assume the best is yet to come for the young billionaire.

“Talent agencies have traditionally been an extremely strong business within Japan,” analyst Masahiro Hasegawa told the India Times. “People are betting that this is the next generation of such businesses”.

Given the growing popularity of VTube content, his wealth is certainly expected to grow even further in the years to come.

Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.

Tags from the story
, ,
Written By
First published in 1903, the South China Morning Post is Hong Kong’s premier English language newspaper, providing news 24/7, in-depth and quick scan reads, informative infographics, critical analysis, community discussions plus access to the most comprehensive news archive in Hong Kong. Over the decades it has built an enviable reputation for authoritative, influential and independent reporting on Hong Kong, China and the rest of Asia.