People tend to look at Terrie Lloyd sideways when he explains that he lives in Tokyo, but his family lives in New Zealand.
In fact, he spends a week each month with his family near Kerikeri, and they often visit him in Japan. It's an unusual arrangement, but it ensures that Lloyd, his Japanese wife and their sons enjoy the best of both worlds.
Lloyd grew up in New Zealand, and left school at 16 to work in the Pye plant in Waihi. At 19 he moved to Australia and got involved in the computer industry, and four years later went to Japan on a working holiday visa.
Even though he couldn't speak a word of Japanese, he ended up starting a translation business with the woman who later became his wife. When the economic bubble burst in Japan in the early 90s he began importing Chinese PCs, and when that market also crashed he invented outsourcing, bringing Indian software engineers into Japan. He installed the first Novell network in Tokyo, and in 1995 sold the business to computer services giant EDS.
He started up the first online liquor store in Japan, and an online recruiting business, Daijob. In 1999 he bought into a then fledgling enterprise software company called China Dotcom, which floated shortly afterwards.
During the dotcom boom he formed four companies in publishing, recruitment, software development, and systems integration, but in 2000 nearly lost his entire fortune when that bubble also burst.
"It was a pretty ugly time. Even my wife told me to go and get a proper job. That was probably my low point."
However, three of the companies have survived and these days Lloyd is best known as the head of Linc Media, and publisher of Japan Inc magazine.
There was a wave of global M&A activity for most of last year, and Lloyd believes another wave is on its way. "I don't think anyone in Japan believes the US dollar isn't going to tank, and when it does it will be serious," he predicts. "So that's why they're still waiting."
Meanwhile, he has invested some of his own money in several New Zealand start-ups in the IT sector, including OpenCloud and Esphion, and helped broker a finance deal for Precept Health with Japanese investors.
He has also recently invested in Wellington games company Instinct Entertainment, which he believes could become the YouTube of the games world. "If it hits, it will hit big."By Karyn Scherer