Innovator: Shintaro Yamada

CEO, Mercari
Shintaro Yamada
Shintaro Yamada Courtesy of Mercari

This former mobile-gaming entrepreneur is challenging eBay with Mercari, a marketplace app that topped $1.1 billion valuation in 2018, becoming Japan's first unicorn startup. Started in 2013, Mercari (“to trade” in Latin) boasts 10.5 million users in Japan, where it generates 30 billion yen ($269 million) in monthly transactions. Shintaro Yamada credits the app's ease of use for its popularity: “All you have to do is take a picture of the item, fill in the description and tap a button.” The American market has been tougher to crack, but the company has brought on former Facebook Vice President John Lagerling to run Mercari U.S., which now boasts 100,000 new listings daily. Yamada's goal is to build a global Mercari “ecosystem,” with members using their IDs for both online and offline payments. “We want Mercari to be a part of life for people from all walks of life…not just as a marketplace app, but in their everyday lives.”

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We're saluting innovators who have developed creative solutions to the problems that face our world—pollution, economic disparity, war, discrimination and more. Say hello to the creative class of 2019.