In late August, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a blitz of curious investments.
It channeled millions of dollars into a clutch of obscure Japanese startups with names such as Giftee, Nightley and Ateam that work on everything from online marketing to cybersecurity.
Just what did the Japanese juggernaut see in these relatively unknown tech newcomers?
The answer lies in an internal conviction that Toyota has grown too big and ossified to react quickly to the new technologies buffeting the industry. Even Japan's biggest and richest carmaker, the thinking goes, needs smaller, nimbler partners with the expertise it lacks.
Convinced that his company's unbridled size is a liability, President Akio Toyoda is leading a change in corporate culture to create a new Toyota with the mindset of the world's biggest little startup.