Feb 27, 2012

Studio Ousia Raises 70M Yen From Nissay Capital / Venture Now

Studio Ousia was founded on February, 2007 through collaboration with Keio University SFC. Since the foundation, it has developed technology of natural language analysis using artificial intelligence and Hyperlinking of web pages. Currently students of SFC are working as engineer. With the fundraising, it will enforce development resource for Phroni, a new technology for smartphone and tablet to hire new engineers.

Phroni is a technology to make web browsing more efficient. When users search a keyword in text on web sites with touch screen devices, they need cumbersome procedure such as highlighting the keyword by hold and swipe, copying, pasting, and searching. The technology solves the problem.

Its original artificial intelligence engine analyzes text to extract keywords which users  are likely interested and automatically add link to them, which allows users to just tap to search keywords. ...

Venture Now 2/27/2012 [jp]


Donation App, DiMERS Lab Raises Seed Money From Samurai Incubate / Venture Now

Pedometer application for donation developer, DiMERS Lab raised 4.5 million yen from Samurai Incubate. With the money, it plans to hire engineers and others.

DiMERS Lab was founded at November 4th, 2011 to provide CauseWalker, an iPhone application letting users give a donation by just walking.

Users need Facebook account to use the app. After loged in, by choosing a project to give donation and tap "Walk" button, it starts counting steps. The donation is paid from sponsors of each project. ...

Venture Now 2/24/2012 [jp]

  • It is a very good idea to combine healthful activity and donation to keep users continuing both activities. Recruiting sponsors would be a key for the app.
  • http://www.dimers-lab.com/

Feb 22, 2012

[Penn Olson] CyberAgent Ventures Invests in a Fun Chinese Video-Sharing Startup

Back in December of last year we predicted that social video apps would be big in China in 2012, led by a fun one called iSheHui. And the Japanese investment firm CyberAgent Ventures seems to agree, having this week confirmed that it has invested 10 million RMB (US$1.59 million) in the startup that makes it. 
iSheHui is sort of an Instagram for videos, allowing users to add funky filters to an iPhone or Android smartphone vid and then easily share it with friends on Weibo. The startups two founders, Li Zheng and Zhao Liang, have years of experience in China’s top video-streaming sites – Mr. Li at Ku6 (NASDAQ:KUTV), Mr. Zhao at Tudou (NASDAQ:TUDO) as its former CTO. ...
Penn Olson 2/21/2012 [en]

  • CyberAgent Venture seems more active in Vietnam recently for investment in foreign countries. It is a first announcement of investment in China in a while. 

[Penn Olson] GREE Gets Games from Gameloft, Ubisoft for Global Gaming Platform

Japanese social gaming giant GREE (TYO:3632) is announcing today that is is partnering with two big game publishers on titles for its upcoming global platform. The first is Ubisoft (EPA:UBI), who the company will work with to exclusively bring a new Assassin’s Creed title to the upcoming global GREE mobile platform. This is certainly a big-name addition for the company as Assassin’s Creed is one of the best-selling game franchises in the world right now.
The other big partnership that GREE is announcing today is with Gameloft (EPA:GFT). The two companies will work together on a new social title for smartphones called Gang Domination, which will arrive in June. This will be a social card game twist on Gameloft’s Gangstar franchise, the latest installment of which – Gangstar Rio – has done well, helping the publisher to strong financial results late last year.
Penn Olson 2/21/2012 [en]

  • It is interesting to see if the social card game will be popular in other countries than Japan, where many of top-ranked games are social card games.

Ad Technology, FreakOut Raises 350M Yen / TechCrunch Japan

FreakOut provides DSP (Demand Side Platform), which optimizes value of ads for advertisers. The investors are not disclosed, but it is expected to be a large venture capital and a corporate venture capital.

FreakOut is growing steadily in Japan and with this capital, it will establish a 100% subsidiary in New York in March to expand the business into North America. It focuses on DSP for smartphone in US, which is also launching in Japan from March.

TechCrunch Japan 2/22/2012 [jp]

  • It is the third fundraising by ad tech startups following Metaps, reward ads for smartphone, and Kauli, Supply Side Platform. Ad for smartphone seems to be one of the hottest market this year.
  • http://fout.jp/

Feb 20, 2012

[TechWireAsia] Japan’s CyberAgent Venture Invests in Vietnamese Game Developer Colorbox

CyberAgent Ventures, a Venture Capital and a subsidiary of Japan’s leading internet group CyberAgent, Inc, announces their seventh investment in Colorbox Software Corporation, which develops casual smartphone games targeted at the global market. It’s the second investment whereby the fund comes from CA Asia Internet Fund, a fund specializing in the South East Asian market, which has allocated US$ 10 million for Vietnam’s market. 
Colorbox was founded in 2009, and one of the Ho Chi Minh City-based developer considers the Rip Off as its most successful app, which actually ranked second in Apple’s U.S. App Store for a few months. ...
TechWireAsia 2/19/2012 [en]

  • CyberAgent Ventures invested in Vietnamese largest music site, NCT Corporation announced in this month as well.
  • http://colorbox.com.vn/

Mobile Reward Ads, Metaps Closes 110M Yen Of Fundraising / TechCrunch Japan

Metaps announced that it closed fundraising of 110 million yen, following 330 million at the end of the last year. The series A round of 440 million yen in total is finalized.

Metaps was founded in September, 2007 as E-Factor to operate community service. It entered reward ads for mobile in 2010 and started focusing on the business on a full scale in 2011. It established a subsidiary in Singapore last year to expand into Asia region including Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Philippines in addition to Singapore.  ...

The investors for the 110 million yen include Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital and Sansei Capital.

TechCrunch Japan 2/20/2012 [jp]

  • The company also announced that it will open offices in China, US, and Europe within 6 months to build partnership with local application developers.
  • http://www.metaps.com/

Feb 17, 2012

Smarteducation, Education Apps For Touch Devices, Raises 100M Yen / TechCrunch Japan

Smarteducation provides Oyako de Rhythm Ehon, an application for iOS which allows parents and children to enjoy sounds by touching instruments on screen along with music. Smarteducation announced that it raised around 100 million yen from Infinity Ventures.

Oyako de Rhythm Ehon has 200,000 downloads which is relatively large number for an application targeting education. ...

Smarteducation has raised 50.5 million yen from founders and angel investors to set up the company. ...

TechCrunch Japan 2/17/2012 [jp]

  • The founders were directors and core members of CA Mobile, a subsidiary of CyberAgent. Infinity Ventures also invests in One Of Them. A founder of the startup was also working at CyberAgent. There appear some entrepreneurs with successful background in large Internet companies.
  • http://smarteducation.jp/

Feb 13, 2012

EverConnect Raises 15M Yen From VOYAGE, Netage, and Other / Venture Now

EverConnect announced to raise capital from VOYAGE VENTURES, Netage, and Neptune Group with Convertible Notes. The 15 million yen will be used mainly for human resource and global expansion.

EverConnect was founded on September 21, 2010 to develop social communication platform which allows users to use social services such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and email all together. ...

Venture Now 2/13/2012 [jp]

  • The service has not been released yet. It seems more pre-launched services get investment from VCs or incubators recently than ever such as Piece of Cake, co-meeting, and Best Teacher.
  • https://everconnect.me/

Feb 10, 2012

[Asiajin] D2 Communications Acquires 0.9% Stake In Tokyo-Based Ubiqituous Entertainment

Japan's largest mobile marketing and advertising firm, D2 Communications (D2C), has acquired a 0.9% stake in Tokyo-based Ubiqituous Entertainment (UEI). D2C acquired a total of 400 UEI shares - other financial details of the deal, which was officially announced today, weren't disclosed. 
In April last year, the two companies started a program called 9leap for young smartphone game designers. With the capital partnership, D2C and UEI plan to continue the program, co-develop HTML5-based web services and mobile ad solutions, and use the latter company's knowhow in the gaming field to create new applications and content. ...
Asiajin 2/9/2012 [en]

  • The amount is 20 million yen. It means that the current valuation of the company is over 2 billion yen. UEI raised 500 million yen from Jafco last October.
  • http://www.uei.co.jp/

Digital Garage To Start Incubation In US / Nikkei

Digital Garage (DG) launches incubation center to gather Internet related startups to accelerate providing technology support. It plans to have co-working space accommodating 60 people. DG finds promising startups in Asia, US, and Europe to accelerate them through investment as well.

It bought eight-story building in San Francisco with 7,500 square meters. Its first and second floors will be renovated to the incubation center planning to launch in this Fall. ...

Nikkei 2/10/2012 [jp]

  • Digital Garage started Open Network Lab in 2010, which is the first Y Combinator-like acceleration program in Japan. Also it has invested in several startups in US through its VC arm, DG Incubation. There increases incubation centers or co-working spaces anywhere in the world, but San Francisco is definitely the center of the movement. It is interesting how DG differentiates from existing competitors to accommodate promising startups.

Feb 8, 2012

Lindoc Raises 20.7M Yen From B Dash Ventures / Lindoc Press Release

Lindoc is a reading platform to allow readers to share books. Readers can easily upload ebooks on cloud and view them from iPhone/iPad application. It allows both private use and to share publicly opened documents with other users. ...

Lindoc Press Release 2/6/2012 [jp]

  • Lindoc focuses on education such as text books in which sharing comments with others have more benefit than common books.
  • B Dash Ventures was founded last September with 2 billion yen in the fund. Lindoc is the second investment among released deals following Mr Taddy operating EC for glasses, Oh My Glasses.
  • https://lindoc.jp/

[Penn Olson] Venture Generation: The Latest Startup Incubator in Tokyo

J-Seed Ventures, a Japan-based startup fund, this morning announced Venture Generation, a 180 square-meter startup incubator located in Tokyo. The space is set up for fledgling startups — both local and foreign — to enjoy a co-working space at an affordable monthly rate. Some of the facilities you can expect are WiFi, workstations, office equipment, and also three conference rooms for meetings. 
More than 25 venture advisers have committed to support Venture Generation members on a voluntary basis. Two of those 25 are Michael Korver, co-founding partner of GVC, and Tetsuya Isozaki, founder of Femto Startup, a hands-on fund that focuses on helping entrepreneurs. ...
Penn Olson 2/8/2012 [en]

  • Y Combinator type of accelerating programs and co-working or incubation center spaces are increasing recently. CyberAgent Ventures plans to open a large scale of incubation office in late February. Other incubation spaces include Samurai Startup Island, Sunbridge Global Venture Habitat, B Dash Lab, and many more.

Ad Tech Startup, Kauli Fundraises From D2C Aiming Smartphone Market / TechCrunch Japan

Kauli operates Supply Side Platform (SSP) to maximize revenue of publishers side. It has 7 billion impressions per month.

Kauli announced capital and business partnership with D2 Communications along with allocation of new shares to the mobile ad company and DFJ-JAIC.

D2C takes 33.4% of shares to become a largest share holder. ...

TechCrunch Japan 2/8/2012 [jp]

  • With this partnership, Kauli will focus on providing SSP for smartphone.  SSP  for Smartphone is getting competitive field including adingo, MicroAd, and Spire. 
  • http://kau.li/jp

Feb 7, 2012

[Asiajin] Istyle(@cosme) Goes IPO On TSE Mothers

Istyle, who runs Japan's top cosmetic products review site @Cosme, announced on February 3, 2012, that they will be listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers (Tosho Mothers) planned on March 8, 2012. 
The company was established in 1999, and its service @Cosme became the leading beauty information service in Japan. 6.2 million monthly visitors exchange makeup products reviews. 
Along with electric appliance review Kakaku.com and restaurant review Tabelog, @Cosme is thought as one of the most successful user generated review service in Japan. ...
Asiajin 2/6/2012 [en]

  • Istyle operates EC site and real shops for cosmetics as well. 
  • @Cosme would be considered as relatively matured service. It is interesting to see how it can boost up the business with the IPO from the current status appearing to be stable.
  • http://www.cosme.net/

[CyberAgent Ventures Press Release] CyberAgent Ventures Invests In Vietnamese Largest Music Site, NCT Corporation

CyberAgent Ventures, Inc., a subsidiary of CyberAgent, Inc. announces to invest in NCT Corporation (Headquarter: Ho Chi Minh City, CEO: Nhan The Luan). NCT Corporation is running one of the biggest Internet music media named www.nhaccuatui.com for Vietnamese users. 
It is already very popular for Vietnamese Internet users to listen to streaming music online, and around 10M users are using the NCT’s music service every month. We expect its continuous growth, and plan to create some new businesses in cooperation with NCT by taking advantage of its existing huge traffic. ...
CyberAgent Venture Press Release, 2/3/2012 [jp]

  • CyberAgent Ventures actively invests in Vietnamese startups including VNG Corporation (Internet media), VMG Media (mobile contents), Green Mobile (mobile game), and CleverAds (ads agency). 

Feb 1, 2012

[KDDI Press Release] KDDI Establishes KDDI Open Innovation Fund

KDDI Corporation today announced the establishment of the KDDI Open Innovation Fund, a corporate venture capital fund that will support promising startup companies. Plans call for a total investment in the fund of ¥5.0 billion. This is the first corporate venture capital fund established by KDDI. 
Through the fund, KDDI will invest in promising startup companies in Japan and overseas. In addition, through cooperative activities, KDDI will support service development, provide platforms for developing cloud services, and cooperate in promotional initiatives. In this way, KDDI will foster the development of high-quality applications and services and support the growth of startup companies. ... 
The fund will be managed by Global Brain Corporation, which has a strong track record in the venture capital business. ...
  • KDDI has been actively involved with startup related activities including partnership (colopl, Tonchidot), investment (A-Fund, giftee, Synclunch, colopl, Tonchidot and others), and incubation program (Mugen Labo) recently. The fund will accelerate the activity further.

[Venture Beat] Japan’s DeNA moves into Chinese smartphone game market in deal with Baidu

Japan’s DeNA is bent on being a global powerhouse in social games on mobile platforms. Today, the company announced it will put its Mobage mobile gaming social network on Baidu-Yi smartphones in China. 
Baidu, China’s leading internet search provider, has formed an alliance with DeNA’s China subsidiary so that DeNA can offer the Mobage platform and its games on smartphones. Baidu’s official mobile app store, the Yi Store, comes pre-loaded on smartphones and it will have a dedicated section for Mobage. Users can tap twice to move from the default screen to the Mobage platform on an Android phone. Baidu’s first Yi-based smartphone — manufactured by Dell — went on sale in China on Jan. 13. 
VentureBeat 1/31/2011 [en]

  • DeNA seems to be focusing on Chinese market more seriously than ever. It announced just a few weeks ago partnership with NetDragon, a Chinese online game developer to establish joint venture for mobile social game development.

Femto Startup Invests In Piece of Cake / Cnet Japan

Femto Startup announced that it invests 3.2 million yen in Piece of Cake to take 5.2% share. Femto Startup is a LLP founded at January 1st this year. The investment is the first deal. ...

Tetsuya Isozaki, a co-founder of Femto Startup, aims to build a practice of venture investment in Japan such as standard of percentage of equity and amount of investment or template of an investment agreement. ...

Piece of Cake was founded in Decemebr, 2011. It plans to develop contents distribution platform for digital devices. ...

Cnet Japan 2/1/2011 [jp]