Sachio Semmoto Returns to Gainesville to Share His Story

Dr. Sachio Semmoto

One of ECE Florida’s most distinguished alumni, Dr. Sachio Semmoto (MS ’68, PhD ’71), returned to the University of Florida (UF) for a whirlwind visit, participating in a Q&A session with students. The session was moderated by the newly endowed Sachio Semmoto Chair of ECE, Dr. Mark Tehranipoor. During the wide-ranging event, Dr. Semmoto described how he came to lead several telecommunications conglomerates and the spirit of entrepreneurship that has driven his entire career.

Dr. Semmoto described coming to UF in 1968, when the newest building on the main campus was Larsen Hall, still home to many faculty members from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Coming from Japan at the age of 24, Semmoto described the social climate in Florida as vastly more conservative than now, and he learned much about American culture from his roommate. He came to understand and appreciate that part of the American spirit was defined by the idea of self-determination, exploration, and the “build it yourself” mentality. He obviously took this to heart—after graduating, he went on to co-found DDI Corporation, the first privately-held telephone company in Japan, and then founded eAccess Ltd., a mobile network operator. In 2005, Semmoto founded his fifth start-up company, eMobile.

Dr. Sachio Semmoto (L) and Dr. Mark Tehranipoor (R)

Looking back on his career, now at the ago of 82, Dr. Semmoto remarked,

“Without my time in Larsen Hall, none of this would ever have happened.”

The questions from students often focused on time management and determination—many were curious how he found the time to accomplish all that he did so quickly. Dr. Semmoto attributed much of his life to luck—but a special kind of luck. “I was an average NTT employee, but nobody there, out of all the employees, was willing to stand up and start a new company. I was not smart, but one thing I had was luck and some spirit. Luck, or fortune, comes from somewhere that I can’t describe. But that fortune or luck is given to you. If you have a pure mind, and you want to contribute to make your society better, you will find luck.”

As for timing, Dr. Semmoto had this to say. “For any project, regardless of scale, if you think this is the project in your life, to improve this society, take action today. Tomorrow never counts. Take action today.”