This is the first in a 10-part series on influential figures in the Heisei Era, which began in 1989 and will end when Emperor Akihito abdicates in April. In Heisei, Japan was roiled by economic excess and stagnation, as well as a struggle for political and social reform. This series explores those who left their imprint along the way.

In many ways, Heisei has been an era of reform, peppered with tales of mavericks who challenged those at the helm of an entrenched business and political system they viewed as opaque and rife with vested interests.

Not many embodied this fight more colorfully than Takafumi Horie, a young, T-shirt-clad internet mogul who shot to stardom in the early 2000s by taking on the old guard, and old Japan, with Livedoor — the internet empire he built from scratch.