Aug 19, 2014

[The Bridge] Japan’s crowdsourcing/rewards platform operator Realworld files for IPO

Tokyo-based Realworld, the company that operates a crowdsourcing/rewards platform in Japan, has announced that it has been approved for an IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers market on Friday. The company will be listed on September 18th with plans to offer 220,700 shares for public subscription and to sell 73,600 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 270,400 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities. ...
Since establishment in July 2005, the company has been operating several crowdsourcing/rewards platforms such as Crowd and Lifemile, the latter being acquired from CyberAgent in 2011. The combined total of users across these several platforms is 8.5 million. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 8/18/2014 [en]

memo
  • We see a lot of fundraising news of crowdsourcing service recently. Realworld is one of the earliest company providing crowdsourcing service in Japan. It is interesting to see if other crowdsourcing startups to follow for IPO in the near future.
  • http://company.realworld.jp/  

[The Bridge] Japan’s Quan invests in Thailand’s mobile game startup Magic Box Asia

Tokyo-based Quan, the Japanese startup behind mobile apps like MyStickerShop and Lounge, announced today that it has invested in Bangkok-based game startup Magic Box Asia. 
Magic Box Asia was founded by Vincent Setiwan, co-founder of Bangkok’s co-working space Launchpad and the co-founder of Japanese anime creation crowdfunding site Anipipo. The company provides a smartphone game platform and app localization service for the Southeast Asian region with an emphasis on the Thai market. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 8/18/2014 [en]

memo
  • Quan's apps are particularly popular in Thailand and it has a partnership with Thailand's largest telco, AIS. With the partnership, Quan aims to become an app publisher trading both Japanese and Thai developers' apps each other.
  • http://quan-inc.jp/

[The Bridge] Japan’s crowdsourced app development service Sekai Lab raises $1.2M

Tokyo-based Monstar Lab, the company that provides crowdsourced offshore app development service Sekai Lab, announced last week that it has fundraised 120 million yen (approximately $1.2 million) from East Ventures, SMBC Venture Capital, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. 
The company launched Sekai Lab in March, where Japanese companies can crowdsource their app development tasks at affordable rates from over 300 teams comprising 3,000 crowdsourced engineers from 10 countries. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 8/14/2014 [en]

memo
  • Crowdsourcing services are booming. Among them, software development may be one of the most popular tasks. So, offshore development must have strong needs, however, it is also true that many of clients may have concern about communication with foreign developers. Sekai Lab probably have enough knowledge to provide appropriate support for the communication between clients and developers in order to run the service. 
  • http://www.sekai-lab.com/index

Mitsui & Co. Invests In Translation Startup, PIJIN / Nikkei

Mitsui & Co. partners with PIJIN to launch a service allowing foreign visitors to get tourist information with their own language using a smartphone. When reading QR code on billboards or magazines, explanations in own language are automatically displayed. It will be available on over 10 languages including English and Chinese. It aims to sell the service to retailers and tourist facilities with increasing tourists.

Mitsui also takes more than a dozen percent of shares of the startup with about 30 million yen. ...
continue reading in Japanese ...
Nikkei 8/13/2014 [jp]

memo
  • Foreign tourists to Japan are increasing recently particularly from Asia. There are competitors' apps translating texts directly with machine translation, which seem easier than QR code. But still the accuracy of machine translation is not good enough. Similar services would be increasing heading for Tokyo Olympics in 2020. 
  • https://www.qrtranslator.com/en

LOCKON Goes IPO On Mothers / Venture Now

Ecommerce development open source software, EC-CUBE developer, LOCKON had approval to be listed on Mothers market by Tokyo Stock Exchange. The planned date is September 17th. ...

LOCKON was founded in June 2001 and became incorporated in July 2003. It develops and provides AD EBiS, online advertisement effectiveness measurement tool, and EC-CUBE, open source EC development tool. ...

continue reading in Japanese ...
Venture Now 8/11/2014 [jp]

memo
  • IPO of Internet related companies are increasing this year. AD EBiS and EC-CUBE have been popular for many years and still may have room to grow, but It is also interesting to see the next hit product from LOCKON utlizing the capital.
  • http://www.lockon.co.jp/

IROYA Fundraises From Nissay Capital / Venture Now

IROYA, operating curation commerce service with colors as its concept, fundraised from Nissay Capital.

IROYA started the service in March 2014 to provide EC platform for matching color and items as its theme. ...

continue reading in Japanese ...
Venture Now 8/11/2014 [jp]

memo
  • IROYA also launched IROYA MAGAZINE, a blog focusing on color and something such as fashion, novels, music, and design.written by experts and writers, which may aim to create viral with social media. It would not be a mainstream, but is interesting challenge to take colors as its theme.
  • https://iroya.jp/

Aug 13, 2014

LINE Invests In gumi To Expand Games To The World / ITmedia

LINE announced capital and business partnership with gumi, Brave Frontier and other games developer. LINE invests in gumi which develops games for LINE platform. Both aims to sell made in Japan games to the global market taking advantage of LINE platform and gumi's capability in the global market.

The amount and the date are still in discussion, but the percentage will be under 10%. ...

continue reading in Japanese ...
ITmedia 8/6/2014 [jp]

memo
  • gumi's Brave Frontier is becoming popular in many countries. It also has several other hit games. The company has been spreading its branch offices to Asia and Europe. LINE would expand the coverage even more. On the other hand, LINE has a lot of successful casual games and the partnership would extend the line up to more serious games. It is exciting to see how big results the partnership will produce. 
  • http://gu3.co.jp/
  • http://line.me/en-US/

[The Bridge] Japanese women’s fashion media site 4meee raises $500,000

4meee! (pronounced “for me”) is an e-commerce and curated fashion site for young women. Tokyo-based Rocket Venture, the company behind the service, announced today that it has raised 50 million yen ($500,000) from Japanese investment firm Global Brain as well as Future Investment, the investment arm of Japanese system integrator Future Architect. 
The team was featured at a recent demo day event of Tokyo-based startup incubator Movida Japan. Since its April launch they have published more than 1,000 articles and surpassed 1 million monthly page views. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 8/11/2014 [en]

memo
  • Mobile focused curation media is a trendy service. There may be many competitors. But different from many of viral media, the service creates original contents by curators, which would be its advantage.
  • http://4meee.com/

Crowdworks Fundraises From Recruit Aiming Business Synergy / TechCrunch Japan

Crowd sourcing service operator, Crowdworks raised capital from RSP Fund V, investing arm of Recruit Holdings. The amount is not disclosed but considered to be several tens of million yen.

The startup has raised around 1.4 billion yen in total from CyberAgent, Dentsu, and venture capitals. This fundraising would be aiming business synergy rather than for finance needs.

Crowdworks has 198,000 registered members and around 36,000 companies in total has ordered. The total amount of works submitted surpasses 14.2 billion yen. ...

continue reading in Japanese...
TechCrunch Japan 8/8/2014 [jp]

memo
  • Crowdsourcing services are growing. Among them, Crowdworks is considered to be one of the largest sites. Crowdworks provides wide range of services from programming, design, to photo shooting, and marketing research. In order to increase a number of works, partnering with other services including existing real services may be a key. Its competitor, Lancers also establishes many partnerships.
  • http://crowdworks.jp/

Aug 12, 2014

[The Bridge] Japan’s news curation app SmartNews raises $35M from Gree, Atomico, and others

Tokyo-based SmartNews, the company behind the news curation app under the same name, announced today that it has raised about 3.6 billion yen (about $35.4 million) from several companies. This round was led by Gree and Atomico with participation from Mixi, Globis Capital Partners, former Ziff Davis Publishing president William Lohse, DeNA co-founder Shogo Kawada, and other investors. ...
continue reading...
The Bridge 8/8/2014 [en]

memo
  • News app is the hottest area in mobile apps. SmartNews' rival, Gunosy raised about $24 million in total.from KDDI this year spending a lot for TV commercial to increase users. It seems also making a large amount of money with native advertisements. SmartNews seemed going ahead against Gunosy last year, but the competition may be almost even now. It is interesting to see how SmartNews use the capital. Of course, giants like LINE or Yahoo are also strong competitors for the startups. Who will dominate the market?
  • https://www.smartnews.be/

[The Bridge] Japan’s Ticket Street raises $3M from eBay, Gree Ventures

Ticket Street is a Tokyo startup providing a platform focused on the buying and selling of show tickets. The Nikkei reported that the startup has fundraised 300 million yen (or about $3 million) from US e-commerce giant eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Japan’s Gree subsidiary Gree Ventures. 
Because eBay has online ticket marketplace StubHub under its wings, the Tokyo company plans to partner with the US counterpart to start selling tickets from this fall for MLB and NBA games in Japan. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 8/7/2014 [en]

memo
  • eBay entered Japan market long time ago, but withdrew soon failed against Yahoo Auction. So, it is very interesting move. The impact of the partnership would not be so sure because show tickets are basically domestic business, but it is interesting to see whether the eBay's strategy would work this time.
  • http://ticket.st/

[The Bridge] Online cram school startup Aoi.Co. raises $1.2 million from Jafco

Tokyo-based Aoi.Co., the startup that operates a live-streamed onine lecuture service for junior high students, announced today that it has fundraised 120 million yen ($1.2 million) from Japanese investment firm Jafco. Aoi.co. was born out of the fifth batch of KDDI’s incubation program Mugen Labo back in January. 
Aoi Zemi, their service, is focused on providing informative live programming as well as opportunities to interact with other users by sharing something they are calling ‘timelines’. Live-streaming is available for free, but you will be charged for watching recorded lecture programs. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 8/4/2014 [en]

memo
  • Edtech is one of the popular categories recently. IPO of Rarejob, Skype English lesson service may accelerate the trend. Even though the number of students are decreasing in Japan, there would be quite large market for startups to improve using technology.
  • https://www.aoi-zemi.com/

[The Bridge] Opt unveils $150M investment plan, wants more companies to go public with new businesses

Japanese newspaper Nikkei reports that Tokyo-based e-marketing company Opt will invest 15 billion yen ($146.2 million) in startups focused on cloud services for enterprise users, adtech, e-commerce, and edtech businesses. The company plans to invest amounts ranging from hundreds of thousand dollars to $3 million in each qualified startup and acquire over a 51% plus share in them. 
Opt has 17 group companies so far, and wants to have 100 within three years through the investment efforts. Besides the funding, Opt plans to help invested companies improve their back office operations in advertising, marketing, public relations, and hiring, with the aim to have an IPO within a few years after the investment. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 8/3/2014 [en]

memo
  • Investing in startups for large corporations is rapidly becoming a big trend this year. However, Opt looks quite different. According to the article, it will acquire over 51%, so it is not taking minor share like most of other corporate VCs. It is more like Opt aims to speed up its growth rate by acquisition.
  • http://www.opt.ne.jp/english/

[The Bridge] Japan’s state-run fund to invest $9 million in eyeglass e-commerce startup Oh My Glasses

NHK reported on August 2 that Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), the Japanese state-run startup fund, will invest 900 million yen ($9 million) in Japanese eyeglasses-focused vertical e-commerce startup Oh My Glasses. This is part of the government’s aim to promote the optical industry in Sabae City, which has for centuries been a major supplier of eyeglasses. 
Since its start in 2011, Oh My Glasses has been providing an eyeglass e-commerce service that offers five sets of eyeglasses at a time upon order, and buy one if you can find any favorite among them. So customers can try them on before buying. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 8/2/2014 [en]

memo
  • There are many cheap glasses seller on both online and offline. It may be a challenge for Oh My Glasses how big it can grow by focusing on high-end market with Sabae-brand glasses. INCJ and the startup may consider selling the glasses to overseas market.
  • http://www.ohmyglasses.jp/

Aug 7, 2014

[The Bridge] Japan’s ExCo raises $3.3M, launches cardless online payments platform

Tokyo-based startup Exchange Corporation (ExCo for short) announced yesterday that it has launched a new payment solution called Paidy and raised about 330 million yen (or $3.3 million) from Arbor Ventures (Hong Kong), CyberAgent Ventures (Japan), Recruit Strategic Partners (Japan), 500 Startups (USA), and Cherubic Ventures (Taiwan). 
ExCo has developed various personal finance services including P2P loan market Aqush. Paidy allows you to complete an online payment without entering credit card numbers or login procedure. To buy something online with Paidy, all you need is to enter your name and e-mail address. You can also choose a lump-sum payment or installed payments up to 36 months. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 7/31/2014 [en]

memo
  • There are not much information about how it works, but it seems Paidy is innovative solution for both online shoppers and customers.
  • https://paidy.com/en

Game Publisher For Smartphone, 3rdKind Raises 100M Yen / Venture Now

3rdKind announced a total of 100 million yen of finance from Nippon Venture Capital, Global Brain, and Adways. 3rdKind was founded in 2011, publishing high quality games developed in North America and Europe. Currently, it runs 17 titles by culturizing.

Venture Now 7/30/2014 [jp]

memo
  • 3rdKind raised capital from KDDI's Open Innovation Fund, which is managed by Global Brain, in January 2013.  
  • http://www.3rdkind-inc.com/

[The Bridge] Photo sharing app Snapeee raises $4M series C funding from Global Brain and others

Tokyo-based Mind Palette, the startup behind photosharing app Snapeee, announced today it has fundraises 400 million yen (about $4 million) from Japanese investment firm Global Brain, publishing company Kodansha, and Energy and Environment Investment. 
...
Snapeee has acquired over 8 million users in Asia. Through the investment and tie-up with Kodansha which is well known for publishing popular fashion magazines like ViVi, Snapeee wants to strengthen delivering higher quality of content to consumers in the region. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 7/28/2014 [en]

memo
  • Photo decoration apps like Snapeee was featured a lot a few years ago successfully acquiring millions of users from not only in Japan but also in other Asian countries. However, news about the apps have been decreased recently. It seems Snapeee aims to become media rather than just photo sharing, which still no one establishes monetization model, taking advantage of the user base. It is interesting to see how they will achieve.
  • http://snape.ee/


Mobile Video Distributor, Breaker Fundraises From gumi / Venture Now

Breaker, which distributes video contest for mobile, announced fundraising from gumi ventures' fund. Along with it, it started discussion for business partnership with gumi.

Breaker was founded in September 2013 by Alan Swarts, former Vice President of MTV Japan and others, which produces and distributes video contents for social media. ...

continue reading in Japanese...
Venture Now 7/18/2014 [jp]

memo
  • gumi is one of the most successful mobile game developers in Japan expected to go IPO within this year. It is still not so popular in Japan, but sharing video of playing mobile games is getting very hot in US and other markets. Probably, gumi sees synergy with Breaker in the field.
  • http://brkr.jp
  • http://gu3.co.jp/


[The Bridge] Japan’s B Dash Ventures to form $60M second fund by yearend

At the reception party for the B Dash event, we heard from the organizer and B Dash Ventures CEO Hiroyuki Watanabe that they are currently forming a new fund. He told us it will be valued at around 6 billion yen (about $59 million) and has secured almost 50% of funding towards its planned closing by end of 2014. 
Their previous fund formed in September 2011 was worth 2 billion yen ($20 million) and attracted investment from big companies like Docomo Ventures, Gree, Septeni, Biglobe, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 7/17/2014 [en]

memo
  • Several new funds have been established this year by venture capitals like B Dash and corporations. Most of them established a larger fund than previous one. Also several new comers joined particularly of CVC. It would be the biggest chance for startups this year than ever.
  • http://bdashventures.com/

[The Bridge] Japanese fish delivery startup Hachimenroppi secures $4.5 million funding

Tokyo-based startup Hachimenroppi, which operates a fish delivery service for restaurants, announced today that it has fundraised about 450 million yen (or $4.4 million) from Recruit Holdings, YJ Capital, DeNA co-founder Shogo Kawada, DeNA (TSE:2432), and Monex Ventures. This follows their previous funding worth $1.5 million in October. 
Since its launch in April 2011, the company has acquired over 1,000 restaurants as users. The company will use the funds to strengthen their teams in sales and system development as well as expanding logistics facilities. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 7/17/2014 [en]

memo
  • Fish delivery for restaurants seems to have a lot of rooms to improve by IT. Since there may be few competitors having experience and knowledge in the two very different areas, the startup would have great potential.
  • http://hachimenroppi.com/

Aug 6, 2014

[The Bridge] Japan’s job search startup LiB raises $700,000, offering more options for working women

Tokyo-baed LiB, an executive job search site for women, announced today that it has raised 70 million yen ($688,000) from CyberAgent Ventures and East Ventures. Since its launch two months ago, LiB will soon surpass 4,000 users, mainly women who earn an annual income of more than 4 million yen ($39,000). ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 7/17/2014 [en]

memo
  • It may seem that 70 million yen would be large amount for a startup of only two-month operation with less than 4,000 users. But, in addition to the fact that job search site is relatively steady service in general, the service sets eyes on very good market because employment of women is one of the most important issues of the current government. 
  • https://libinc.jp/

[Tech in Asia] Japanese telco giant KDDI puts $8M into four American startups, launches new $50M fund

KDDI (TYO: 9433) revealed a flurry of investment plans today. First, the telecommunications firm announced the KDDI Open Innovations Fund (operated by Global Brain) deposited US$8 million into four American startups. Education firm Edmodo, digital media publishing platform Issuu, seat upgrade app Pogoseat, and TechCrunch competitor VentureBeat all received funding but individual terms were not disclosed. KDDI noted that a key reason for investing in these companies is their collective potential for trying to enter the Japanese market. 
It is unclear if that US$8 million was the last of the initial $50 million fund established in 2012, but, regardless, KDDI is reloading and launching a new innovation fund – again with a price tag of US$50 million. With KDDI’s latest move, it is starting to look like venture capital has become a new proxy battle for Japanese telecoms. Docomo has a US$109 million fund and Softbank is working on a US$250 million fund. ...
continue reading ...
Tech In Asia 7/14/2014 [en]

memo
  • CVC has been more and more increasing recently in Japan. Telecom companies have been definitely leading the trend. Media, advertising, and manufacturing companies are following.

[The Bridge] Japan’s ‘viral mills’ Curazy raises $1 million from three investment firms

Tokyo-based BitGather, the startup that operates viral content site Curazy, announced earlier this week that it has fundraised 100 million yen (approximately $1 million) from CyberAgent Ventures, DeNA, and Skyland Ventures. Coinciding with this announcement, the company rebranded its company name from BitGather to Laugh Tech. They will use the fund to hire new writers and editors, and are also planning to introduce a mobile app for iOS and Android in mid-August. 
Curazy has been focused on curating funny news topics from around the world. Since its launch in January, it has acquired over 5 million monthly unique users and over 19 million monthly page views. According to Laugh Tech’s co-founder and CEO Shinnosuke Ito, what’s unique about them is that they have a primary base of readers in their 30′s, and its male to female ratio is almost 50/50. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 7/12/2014 [en]

memo
  • Viral media is rapidly growing in the past several months. Many similar services have been appeared but Curazy may be one of the leading sites. It is interesting to see how long the site can keep the rapid growth.
  • http://curazy.com/ 

ABEJA Fundraises Analyzing Big Data To Produce Business / RBB Today

Image analytics and machine learning technology company, ABEJA announced fundraising on July 11th. In addition to existing share holder, Inspire Investment, the company raises capital from NTT Docomo Venture, Sakura Internet, Mizuho Capital, Archetype Ventures, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. ...

continue reading in Japanese...
RBB Today 7/11/2014 [jp]

memo
  • Image analytics and machine learning is one of the hottest technology field recently in which many startups have been acquired by Internet giants like Google or Facebook. ABEJA currently focuses on retail market to provide camera censor based solutions. There must be much wider opportunities to utilize the core technology.
  • http://www.abeja.asia/