Oct 29, 2010

Kadokawa and Dwango partner to provide ebooks and contents on NicoNico Doga

With the partnership, users can view part of ebooks which they buy on Book Waker, contents distribution platform to be launched on 2011 April by Kadokawa Group, with Nico Nico Viewer, ebook viewer to be provided by Nico Nico Doga.

Also official channel of Kafokawa Group distributing its contents will be deployed in Nico Nico Doga.

Internet Watch 10/28/2010

Yahoo and StartToday partner in fashion related EC

Yahoo and StartToday announced on 28 that they agreed on partnership for the purpose of strengthening Yahoo Japan's fashion related services and increasing users of ZOZOTOWN.

Yahoo utilize a database of fashion brands and products which ZOZOTOWN, fashion shopping site operated by StartToday, to enhance fashion related services. While, users of ZOZOTOWN are allowed to use Yahoo Japan ID and Yahoo Point.

MarkeZine 10/29/2010

Celsys to go on Tokyo Stock Exchange Second Section

Celsys released that it was accepted by Tokyo Stock Exchange to go public on its Second Section market. The company has already listed on Nagoya Stock Exchange Centrex market.

Celsys develops viewer and producing software of animation and comics focusing on growing ebook market. Predicted annual revenue of this year is 2.7 billion yen.

The company explains that the merit of being listed on TSE Second Section is to increase name recognition which leads to make easier to recruit engineers.

Venture Now 10/29/2010 

eBookJapan bundles ebook reader with GALAXY S

eBook Initiative Japan announced that it bundles its ebook reader with GALAXY S, Android smartphone for NTT Docomo. The reader allows users to buy and read ebooks sold on the company's operating ebook download site, eBookJapan.

eBookJapan sells more than 20,000 titles for Android devices, which is the largest in Japan.

Mai Comi Journal 10/28/2010

[Asiajin] Facebook Adds Mixi Connector For Japanese

Asiajin 10/28/2010
Facebook has just released a new export tool to connect itself with Japanese competitor social networking service, Mixi. The tool on Facebook, named “Facebook to Mixi wo Rinku”(Link Facebook and Mixi), will take you to Mixi API’s approval page. ...

Oct 28, 2010

E-Guardian to go public on Mothers at December 1st

E-Guardian approved by Tokyo Stock Exchange to be listed on Mothers. Planned date is December 1st. This is the third IT related startup to get IPO this year following Voltage and Papyless.

Main investors are Dream Incubator (18.40%), the founder (12.81%), Technology Ventures Fund II (9.63%) and GREE (6.42%). E-Guardian was founded as Hot Pot in 1998.

The startup provides blog sites, SNS and message board services with posting monitoring, inquiry support, and reputation analysis services.

Annual revenue ending on September 2010 is 1.3 billion yen. Pretax profit is 213 million yen.

Venture Now 10/27/2010

Open Network Lab starts to recruit the second entrepreneur nurturing program

Open Network Lab, operated by Digital Garage, Netprice.com, and Kakaku.com, started its second recruitment for Seed Acclerator, incubation program to support engineers start-up.

Seed Accelerator provides selected teams from applicants with servers, office space, and fund as well as mentoring from engineers, entrepreneurs, and business managers. After three months program, it gives opportunity to appeal their services to venture capitalists or entrepreneurs in Japan and abroad.

With the first program, seven teams selected from 41 participated. The second program starts from January 2011 ending on March. For the second program, Culture Convenience Club and Bit-isle will join as a partner. CCC will support linkage their service with web sites and shops and also sponsor monthly events organized by Open Network Lab. While, Bit-isle provides its cloud computing service, Server On-demand, for a year free.

CNET 10/27/2010

Oct 27, 2010

Koozyt provides AR technology for NHK's event renting iPhone to visitors

Koozyt announced to provide its AR technology to NHK Bunkasai Taiken Hiroba 2010, an event held by NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corporation. The event will be held from 30 October to 3 November at NHK Broadcasting Center in Shibuya, Tokyo.

The company provides GnG (GET and GO), mobile AR marketing service using GnG CyberCode. Visitors can enjoy Ikimono Sagashi (creature search) Game with AR. At the event site, special iPhone devices will be rented out to visitors, who can get points by catching "creatures" displayed on iPhone when shooting AR marker put in the event site. Users cannot participate with their own iPhone.

Maicomi Journal 10/27/2010

[Asiajin] Cybozu Aims At Business-oriented Social Network, And Something Different From Facebook

Asiajin 10/27/2010
Cybozu Inc., a Tokyo-based package vendor having developed a web-based groupware intended to Japanese SMEs for more than a decade, introduced their brand new SaaS edition of the groupware last November, which is called Cybozu Live.

This week, Mr. Yoshihisa Aono, the CEO of Cybozu Inc., unveiled the plan on how the service goes from now on, and it seems changing to a new one based on the concept of not a groupware but a business-oriented social network platform. It has engaged 41 thousand users since the service’s launch last November despite admission to the service is only by invitation only during the period. Finally it’s opened to everyone this week.

Cybird launches "+ Mobile Reward"", reward ad service for social applications

+Mobile Reward! is a pay per performance advertisement which gives mileages points or virtual money available in applications if users who views the ads take such actions as buying goods or registering to services. Also the service places ads optimized for each applications in order to improve effectiveness of the advertisement.

Cybird provides a total solution for business customers to change mobile phones into business tool and bring smile for both our customers and their end users.

asahi.com 10/26/2010

GREE launches tie-up ads package with social apps

GREE announced that it releases GREE Social Ad Apuri from this month. The service allows customers to place ads with their original contents such as social games. Companies can implement effective and efficient promotion by utilizing social aspects including communication between users.

The social network operator packages the service using its acquired know-how from plan, development to operation, which enables to launch promotions within five weeks  at earliest.

Venture Now 10/26/2010

Oct 26, 2010

[e27] Red Herring picks finalists for Asian awards

e27 10/26/2010
So Red Herring has released its list of finalists for the Red Herring 100 Asia award. There are a lot of companies on the list who we know quite well — check out the table below. A number of them also appear in our list of Asia’s 
The finalists get a shot at being selected as one of the Red Herring 100 Asia winners. The winners will be presented at an event in Shanghai next month. 

[Asiajin] Luna Luna – Mobile Menstruation Care Site, 2.7% Of Japanese Women Pay, Now Goes U.S.

Asiajin 10/25/2010
The service name is Luna Luna, which calls itself as a “mobile site for women”. The site takes information many women need, menstruation and contraception care with a lot of guides/Q&A/columns around women’s physiology.
The cellphone site, which is reachable from all major 3 Japanese cellphone carrier official portal, boasts 1.8 million registered users. Amazing thing is that all of the 1.8 million members are paid subscribers, who pay 180-189 yen(depends on carrier) each month.
Emboldened by the domestic triumph, Luna Luna company MTI Ltd. launched the English version of Luna Luna on iPhone for U.S. market on October 22nd. The price is $1.99

Oct 22, 2010

[Asiajin] IncubateFund To Hold A Boot Camp For Encouraging Entrepreneurs In Their 20s

Asiajin 10/21/2010 
IncubateFund, an investment team backed by DeNA and it’s known for having invested in Pokelabo and Istpika (both are social app providers), will have a two-day camp for encouraging potential entrepreneurs to develop and launch their Internet businesses. ...

Infoteria partners with Evernote releasing calender app for iPhone

The calender application, Snapcal, links with Evernote as well as Twitter and Google Calender to share schedule and information among those services. There are free and premium version for 115 yen with seven languages including Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Korean.

Yoichiro Hirano, CEO of Infoteria said that it would like to expand services linking users around the world through partnership with Evernote.

ITmedia 10/21/2010 

Oct 21, 2010

OKWave launches Facebook app, "ARIGATO" sharing Q&A

OKWave develops beta version of ARIGATO, international social Q&A service and launches in Facebook. ARIGATO allows users to post questions, answers and comments for users around the world.

The service has basically the same scheme as its existing Q&A service, OKWave. 13 languages including English, Spanish, and Chinese as well as Japanese are available. Translation is to be done by users themselves. Users can add "Arigato" for questions, answers, or translations which they think good to indicate gratitude.

Venture Now 10/20/2010 

CRI Middleware and Valup provides free PR distribution tool for iPhone apps

CRI Middleware and Valup Tehcnology starts to provide CLOUDIA Starter Plan, which is a basic service of CLOUDIA, in-apps PR engine for iPhone and iPad applications co-developed by those companies.

CLOUDIA is a marketing tool for publisher of iPhone/iPad applications, which consists of an engine displaying PR information in applications and server system for effect measurement and real-time contents distribution. Contents to distribute can be updated on servers, so it is not necessary to update application itself.

The starter plan allows users to use basic features such as catalog function in apps and contents distribution. In addition to basic features, effect measurement features such as analyzing end users' behavior and effect of PR will be available with CLOUDIA Premium Plan, which costs 50,000 yen per month.

CNET 10/20/2010

DeNA sells Mobakore to Senshukai to focus on social game

DeNA and Senshukai announced on October 20 that Mobakore, joint venture of them, is to be a 100% subsidiary of Senshukai by transferring stocks that DeNA possesses to Senshukai.

Mobakore is a mobile EC site of fashion items founded on February 2006. DeNA holds 51% and the rest of 49% is owned by Senshukai.

With the transfer, DeNA focuses on social game platform business centered around Mobage-town.

ITmedia 10/20/2010

Oct 20, 2010

Dentsu and Qoncept partner to provide AR service

Both companies co-develop AR platform service using "Scan it" and make it available for Android and feature phones as well as iOS devices.

"Scan it" is free iPhone application which recognize flat image like QR code and link to iPhone contents. The alliance aims to provide a new AR platform service by mounting Qoncept AR Engine, an AR technology developed by Qoncept, with "Scan it".

Dentsu, Qoncept and others provides advertisement on Yomiuri news paper allowing users to view AR with CG image.

MarkeZine 10/19/2010

Softsign enters Vietnam market with mobile SNS

Softsign sets up R&S Mobile JOINT STOCK COMPANY, joint venture with Vietnam's Runsystem Corporation at Hanoi launching mobile SNS service, MOBA.

The amount of capital of the startup is 4 million yen, 49% of which is invested by Softsign and the rest by Runsystem Corporation.

Runsystem Corporation provides mobile/Web system and game software development for Japan and Western countries. Softsign operates mobile contents distribution service in Vietnam by partnering with local companies. It aims to become like Mobage or Gree taking advantage of early entry with relatively less competition in immature market at this moment.

Venture Now 10/19/2010 

Excite launches Hyper Local News based on location information

Hyper Local News automatically displays news and tweets related to location which users set on a map. The service uses language analysis engine developed by Excite, which identifies places and estimates relation with areas from each information. Also, it obtains information near specified place based on latitude and longitude.

The contents displayed are exhaustively covered including news, events, sight-seeing spots, tweets of Twitter, and weather.

Venture Now 10/19/2010 

Rakuten launches shopping mall in China

Rakuten launched Internet shopping mall jointly with Baidu on 19th of October. The rent for opening store is free except deposit. In Japan, a business model of Rakuten is to take rent from online shops, but Rakuten China adopts commission base charging a certain percentage of a volume of transaction.

Venture Now 10/19/2010

Oct 15, 2010

Nobot raised 100M yen ($1.25M)

Nobot revealed that it raised about 100 million yen from JAFCO and Nissei Capital. Nobot was founded on April, 2009 and provide AdMaker, advertising optimization service for smartphone.

The startups has raised 30 million yen from ngi group and others after an angel round from Samurai Incubate. It plans to use the capital to improve AdMaker and to expand overseas centered around Asia.

Venture Now 10/15/2010

Istpika raised 200M yen ($2.5M) from DeNA-sponsored Incubate Fund

DeNA provides most of capital of Incubate Fund, which has also invested in Pokelabo recently. Including Istpika and Pokelabo, the fund has invested in around five social game studios.

Istpika provides Bistrante, social game co-developed with DeNA for Mobage-town, and Tomodachi Ichiba Zakkania for GREE. The company entered the social game market quite early providing games for Facebook before mixi was opened.

With this investment, it plans to develop social games for iPhone in addition to Mobage-town.

TechCrunch Japan 10/15/2010

GMO launches "Android Yarouze", the second apps developer support project

GMO Internet jointly with Acrodia launches the project. The project offers @GMO GameCenter to distribute games and various technical support such as application development tools and migration tool for iPhone applications.  As the project launch, Android game apps contest will be held.

CNET Japan 10/14/2010

V-cube sells V-CUBE Center packagng Web meeting and dedicated PC

V-cube announced that it starts to sell V-CUBE Center which packages touch panel PC with web camera (Lenovo M90Z), microphone, application, and two years of right to use in the beginning of November.

CNET Japan 10/13/2010

Oct 14, 2010

gumi, social apps provider, raises multimillion-dollar from GREE

According to Mr. Kunimitsu, CEO of gumi, the social game startup will execute an allocation of new shares to GREE soon. The precise amount is not revealed, but the CEO said that it will be multimillion-dollar.

The main use of the capital is to hire employees, aiming to increase to 120 within the year from the current 80.

gumi sees social applications for smartphones as their future target market. And it is web applications rather than native applications.

TechCrunch Japan 10/14/2010

Oct 13, 2010

"Q&A Now", Real-time Q&A service using Twitter, is incorporated

Q&A Now, launched on November 2009, surpassed 50,000 users, and then will be incorporated at 22 of this month. The service uses Twitter so that users get answers in a few minutes or sometimes a few seconds. Currently there are about 20,000 questions per day, and its sum total surpasses 2.5 million.

It also provides ASP for other services such as a large sports news site, Nikkan Sports, and mobile Twitter client, Mobatui. In addition, the company provides MobaQ, developed based on Q&A Now, to Mobatui Land, a one of contents of Twitter service, Mobatui, operated by Mindscope. Mobatui surpassed 1 million users which makes it one of the largest Twitter clients in Japan.

Venture Now 10/13/2010

Oct 12, 2010

[TechCrunch] “Done Deal” – DeNA To Announce Ngmoco Acquisition Very Soon

TechCrunch 10/12/2010 
An update to our post last week on Japan’s DeNA mulling over an acquisition of San Francisco based social gaming startup ngmoco. The deal is supposedly done and will be announced shortly, possibly on Tuesday.
The price we reported, $400 million or so, is in the ballpark, says a new source. And part of the reason ngmoco, with revenues in the $30 million range, can command such a high price is the relative strength of the yen v. the dollar. In 2007 the dollar was hovering in the 120 yen range. Today it’s worth just 81ish. ...

Cerevo starts to sell CEREVO LIVEBOX making video camera Ustream-enabled

CEREVO LIVEBOX allows an usual video camera to distribute video and audio on Ustream by just connecting it a with video camera. The price is 50,000 yen. The appliance has a battery with up to 2 hours of use and is available with both wireless and wired LAN. Smartphones or PC can be used as a remote control.

CNET 10/8/2010

Oct 8, 2010

[TechCrunch] Japan’s DeNA Mulling $400+ Million Acquisition of ngmoco

TechCrunch 10/8/2010
Japanese gaming company DeNA is considering an acquisition of San Francisco-based ngmoco, we’ve heard from multiple sources. The price, says one source, is north of $400 million, although that probably includes a very large earnout. ngmoco specializes in iPhone/iPad/iPod social games.

Oct 7, 2010

Yahoo! Mobage officialy launched

Yahoo! and DeNA announced to launch official version of Yahoo! Mobage, social game platform for PC. Yahoo! Mobage is a social game portal to allow users to use features of Mobage-town with Yahoo ID from PC. Users need to register both Yahoo ID and Mobage-town.

It was launched as a beta since September 21st, and then DeNA says that it has increased partner developers and game titles. With the official launch, 70 of developers from Japan and abroad including US and China provide 100 titles.

Venture Now 10/7/2010

[Trading Markets] Nexon Japan buys into Spanish online games firm BoomBang

Trading Markets 10/6/2010 
Gaming company Nexon Japan Co said on Tuesday it has taken 32% in Spanish online games developer BoomBang Games, in exchange for an undisclosed investment in the company. With this investment, BoomBang Games, currently expanding in the North and South Amercan markets, will be able to finance its growth, Nexon Japan said. Barcelona-based BoomBang Games develops online games for a Spanish-speaking audience globally. Nexon Japan will use its overseas network in 71 countries to further expand the servicing areas of BoomBang, it said. Agnitio Capital Limited advised BoomBang Games on the deal. Nexon Japan is a subsidiary of Korean gaming specialist Nexon.

Oct 6, 2010

Hatena launches Hatena Land, SNS for elementary and junior high school students

Hatena Land is an invitation only social networking service. In Hatena Land, users create their character, Happi, and enjoy talking with "friends" in the service. It is available with PC browser and Nintendo DSi browser.

CNET 10/5/2010

Synergy Marketing partners with Salesforce.com

Synergy Marketing announced that it concludes capital and business alliance with Salesforce.com. Synergy Marketing runs CRM area providing cloud service and marketing support service.

Salesforce takes 2.7% of total number of stock issued with 64 million yen. The company plans to use the capital for developing its core cloud type communication platform, "Synergy!" and "Synergy! LEAD on Force.com", which conncets with Salesforce CRM.

Ventru Now 10/5/2010

Development Bank of Japan sets up 4B yen of venture fund

Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) sets up venture fund in this October and plans to start investments within this year. It focuses on growing domains such as new energy or cloud computing with upwards of 50 million yen for each startup and total of four billion yen to find high growth companies which bear Japan's future.

The bank also aims to invite other financial institutes' capital to the market with the creditworthy 100%-owned government bank entering into venture investments.

Yomiuri Online 10/4/2010

Oct 4, 2010

Sassor executes allocation of new shares to Samurai Incubate Fund

Sassor raised capital from Samurai Incubate Fund I, which is expected to be several million yen. The money will be mainly used for development. Along with the investment, Sakakibara, President of Samurai Incubate, becomes a director to support management, marketing, sales and human resource.

Sassor was just incorporated at September 30 by two postgraduate students from Keio University after 3 months in Seed Accelerator Program by Open Network Lab organized by Digital Garage and others. It develops Energy Literacy Platform, a management tool of electric power consumption at home.

Energy Literacy Platform allows to monitor power consumption and manage the data on the Internet by connecting an ELP module between outlet and electric appliances. 

The company aims to launch a service within an year.  

Oct 1, 2010

KAUPON raised 200 million yen from Globis

A coupon group buying service, KAUPON operator, Kiramex, released that it raised 200 million yen by allocation of new shares to Globis Capital Partners.

CNET 9/30/2010

Dentsu sets up 10 billion yen of Digital Fund

Dentsu Digital Holdings operates the fund. The main domains of investment are digital marketing platform and media, digital technology, social marketing, divice, and new business models utilizing digital technology. In addition to Japan, Asia centered on China, United States and Europe are target market to invest.

Markezine 10/1/2010

DeNA and Fringe81 codevelops automatic mobile ads generation system

DeNA and Fringe81 announced to launch mobile advertising system linking media data of DeNA and Fringe81's automatic ads generation and distribution platform, "iogous", in spring of 2011.

iogous automatically generates and distributes a large amount of pattern of advertisement with combination of advertisement elements such as visuals, copies, logos, formats and background colors.

CNET 9/30/2010

[TechCrunch] Tonchidot Raises $12 Million Round B, Expands Augmented Reality/Social Gaming Platform SoLAR Globally

TechCrunch 10/1/2010
Tokyo-based augmented reality startup Tonchidot has raised $12 million in Series B funding from various Japanese companies, including the country’s second biggest telco KDDI, major media conglomerate Recruit, ad agency SPiRE and venture capital firms DCM, Itochu Technology Ventures (ITV), and JAFCO.
Tonchidot closed a $4 million series A funding round led by DCM and with ITV participating back in December 2008. The $16 million raised in two rounds is an impressive chunk of money in Japan’s startup scene. ...