Suntory Holdings’ President Niinami appointed as external board member, Apple’s Frost as advisor, and Fukuda from Mercari as new CTO
WHILL strengthens management and organization structure with goal of building a worldwide platform for short-distance travel
January 4, 2022 – WHILL, Inc. (WHILL) today announced the appointment of Takeshi Niinami, President and Representative Director of Suntory Holdings Limited, as an external board member; Megan Frost, Director of Product Design for iCloud, Maps, and Education at Apple Inc., as an advisor; and Keito Fukuda, who has experience overseeing the construction of IT-based services at Fast Retailing and Mercari, as the new CTO. These appointments are effective January 1, 2022 and aim to further strengthen WHILL’s management and organizational structure.
Since 2012, WHILL’s mission has been to improve people’s short-distance travel experience by providing innovative mobility products and services. With the world’s population aging at a rapid pace, it is estimated that the number of people who have difficulty walking will reach 200 million by 2035. As the need for mobility services continues to increase, WHILL is taking steps to accelerate its business growth and strengthen both its short-distance mobility service and platform development. WHILL will continue to grow its business and increase its corporate value with the goal of creating a worldwide platform for short-distance travel.
Takeshi Niinami, External board member
Tak Niinami is the Chief Executive Officer of Suntory Holdings, one of the world’s leading consumer products companies with operations throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Prior to joining Suntory in 2014, Tak served as CEO of Lawson, Inc., which he grew into one of Asia’s major convenience store operators, posting profit growth for 12 consecutive years and quadrupling its market capitalization during his tenure.
Outside of Suntory, Tak has served on the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy as senior economic advisor to the Prime Minister since 2014. He is also Vice Chair of the Board of Councilors of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) and Vice Chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives. Tak is also a member of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Board, the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, the Advisory Board of the World Economic Forum Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Global Board of Advisors of the Council on Foreign Relations, and The Business Council in the US.
Tak received his MBA from Harvard Business School.
“The company’s mission to ‘deliver fun and innovative mobility for all’ truly resonates with me because it’s an entirely new concept of short-distance mobility that is not limited to seniors and people living with disabilities. WHILL’s business has expanded to over 20 countries and regions, and I believe there is potential for further growth. I accepted the position as an external board member, hoping that my experience can help.”
Megan Frost, Advisor
Megan Frost is the Director of Product Design at Apple where she oversees iCloud, Apple Maps, and Education. Megan joined Apple in 2004 as a Design Lead for the iTunes Music Store only a year after the revolutionary service was introduced to the world. While at Apple, Megan founded Cute Overload in 2005, an award-winning blog that chronicled the finest in cute imagery and commentary for over a decade. The site has been covered by mainstream media such as the New York Times and the Martha Stewart Show. Prior to Apple, Megan was a Senior Art Director at SBI-Razorfish. Megan started her career as a Senior Designer at Silicon Graphics after graduating from Wittenberg University.
“WHILL is one of my favorite products. I personally appreciate their inclusive philosophy for designing products and services. I have always given my feedback as a customer, but I am excited to be involved at a deeper level now as an advisor to the company. There’s a huge opportunity around accessible mobility and I look forward to providing guidance based on my experience at Apple, as a designer, and an entrepreneur.”
Keito Fukuda, CTO
Born 1981 in Shizuoka, Japan, Keito joined Yahoo Japan in 2006 after graduating from Chiba University Graduate School. At Yahoo, he was responsible for the design, development, and operation of various services, such as search, maps, and routes. In 2012, Keito started working at Fast Retailing, where he built an in-house engineering team to create a company-wide DX system by introducing microservices, while promoting global O2O initiatives. Keito then moved to Nissan in 2016, where he oversaw the architecture of connected cars and mobility services in alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors. He participated in a wide range of projects, including robot cab demonstrations and the introduction of connected services. In 2019, he started working at Mercari as a member of the Business Strategy team and engaged in innovative initiatives. Keito joined WHILL in 2021, where he focuses on the development of services such as mobility sharing, e-commerce/rental, and mobile apps. He also develops IT systems and creates strategic roadmaps for the entire organization.
“I decided to join WHILL because I truly felt that they provide products and services that inspire people, including myself. I have been working closely with the former founder and CTO, Fukuoka, during this transition period, and I am ready to take on this important role with confidence. WHILL’s business started with hardware development and delivering great products to many customers around the world. Conversely, I have been working in the field of IT and software to develop services to make people’s lives more convenient. By fully utilizing our combined knowledge and skills, we will work to develop smart and easy short-distance mobility solutions utilizing both hardware and software, focusing on global service development, e-commerce, and our rental business.
Since 2012, WHILL’s mission has been to improve people’s short-distance mobility through innovative technology and design. Along with designing and selling mobility products, WHILL also provides Mobility-as-a-Service solutions, offering autonomous transportation services that make public spaces more accessible.
Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan with offices around the world, WHILL now offers products and services in over 20 countries and regions globally. Learn more at https://whill.inc.