Hironao Kunimitsu turned Gumi Inc. into a 32 billion yen $291 million company by betting early on smartphone apps.

Now, he s pouring money into virtual reality, on the hunch that we re on the cusp of the next tech boom.The chief executive officer of the mobile-games company isn t alone.

Other Japanese peers, including Gree Inc., invest in the sector.

The industry is at the same point that smartphones were almost a decade ago, with plenty of opportunities right now to invest in virtual-reality hardware and software before they become mainstream.Gumi s partners in the fund are Marco DeMiroz and Tipatat Chennavasin, both former gaming executives.

While iconic publishers such as Nintendo Co., Sega and Namco dominated the industry two decades ago, it was upstarts like Gumi and Colopl that foresaw the potential in smartphones.

DeNA Co., an early mobile Internet pioneer and Nintendo s smartphone game partner, has no plans for investing in VR, according to founder Tomoko Namba.

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