Nov 30, 2010

CyberAgent sets up development center of social applications in US /Venture Now

CyberAgent announced that it sets up development center for smartphone application and starts to launch applications for overseas from March 2011. The first applications are to be restaurant management game and puzzle game. It aims to provide eight titles until September of 2011. The company also plans to recruit mainly engineers from both Japan and US and increase its employees from current 30 to 100 until the end of September 2012.

Venture Now 11/30/2010

Rocketstart raised 330M yen from Globis Capital Partners /CNET

Rocketstart operates "nanapi" which let users to introduce and share how-to in categories such as love, work, and hobby. It is free for posting or viewing. A number of monthly posts are about 2300. It has 9.5 million accesses from PC and mobile combined.

CNET 11/29/2010

Nov 23, 2010

[Asiajin] Startup Weekend Tokyo 2010: Picture Crop Tool Kachop Wins 1st Prize Among Nine Teams

Asiajin 11/23/2010
It was Global Entrepreneurship Week between November 14 and 21 when a variety of business development events are scheduled to take place in Tokyo and Kyoto. In time with this opportunity, there was a three-day tech event called Startup Weekend Tokyo last weekend, which was the second edition here in Japan. At this event, people having a variety of skill sets came together and attempted to develop new services during the weekend.
Kachop, who won the first prize at Startup Weekend Tokyo, can move forward to the next step, Global Startup Battle, a global competition organized and supported by Startup Weekend. 
Kachop is a smartphone app (they actually developed an Android prototype) that allows you to crop favorite portrait and override it on your favorite background very easily without graphical technique nor Adobe Photoshop-like software.

Nov 22, 2010

China's major SNS starts group coupon buying service with Pado /Nikkei

Pado will start group coupon service jointly with Oak Pacific Interactive, the big SNS operator in China. It plans to launch the web site on the coming January. 70 - 80 shops in the Tokyo metropolitan area at launch and that will be extended  throughout the country. The company expects 1 billion yen annual sales.

Both set up the operating company at December 1. OPI invests 40% and Pado invests the rest. OPI and Pado prepares coupons available for virtual goods of social games which users of SNS play each other in order to differentiate from other competitors including Groupon.

Nikkei 11/19/2010

Group coupon site, Luxa raises 500M yen from JAFCO /CNET

LUXA sells discount coupons of services such as restaurants or relaxation services. Since it's launch at August, BizReach, recruiting service provider, has operated the service, but the company spun it off and set up Luxa on October.

CNET 11/22/2010

[Asiajin] Japan’s Itochu Invests In Hong Kong And Taiwanese E-Commerce Sites

Asiajin 11/22/2010
Major Japanese trading (and Fortune 500) company Itochu is making a foray into the Asian e-commerce space. According to The Nikkei, Itochu made two investments recently, having bought into Hong Kong-based online shopping company Fortune Link and Taiwan-based PChome.
About 10% of each of these sites have been acquired by Itochu, The Nikkei reports. ...

Nov 18, 2010

SBI Social Lending launches pre-site /Yomiuri Online

SBI Social Lending, a subsidiary of SBI Holdings, launched a pre-site targeting for official launch at the next spring. As SBI Social Lending has been considering legal and economical aspects for launching its social lending service, it dissolves an alliance with US's Prosper Marketplace and changes the company name form SBI Prosper to SBI Social Lending.

The company was founded at January 24 of 2008.

Yomiuri Online 11/17/2010

Japan Medical Net Communications is approved to go public on Mothers /Venture Now

Japan Medical Net Communications, a group company of M3, will get IPO on Mothers of Tokyo Stock Exchange on December 21.

Major share holders are Toru Hayakawa, president (55.97%), M3 (16.68%), and other board members and their families. No other investors such as venture capital are involved.

Its business domain is operation of vertical portal site of dentistry and related services in the field such as web development and SEM.

The revenue of 2010 ending May is 1 billion yen, and the profit is 140 million yen.

Venture Now 11/17/2010

Nov 17, 2010

Verona, virtual communication network, launched /

Amiya starts to sell Verona, a new network communication service using virtual IP technology. Different from existing VPN service using IP-VPN to enable point-to-point connection, Verona allows users to have secure communication in a special virtual IP network using Internet. With the service, users do not need to pay static IP fee for providers when using Internet VPN, which drastically cuts cost maintaining VPN communication with high leveled security.

The use cases are such as building POS network between multi stores and headquarters cheaply, internal software developers and outsourcing companies, and monitoring cameras set on many different places from headquarters. 11/17/2010

Deloitte Japan Technology Fast 50 /

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu announced Deloitte Japan Technology Fast 50, a ranking based on growth rate of revenue for past three years in Technology, Media & Telecommunications industry.

Gree, social networking service operator, achieved 4,210% growth for three years to top the list for the second consecutive year. The second is Livesence operating Internet media centered around human resources and real estates. Phoeton ranked the third, which develops and sells razor process equipments. A record number of 20 unlisted companies won the prize.

2010 Fast50 Ranking - Top 10
1 Gree 4,210%
2 Livesence 695%
3 Phoeton 306%
4 Morpho 266%
5 Tella 262%
6 Oasis Solution 214%
7 NRL Pharma 190%
8 V-Technology 181%
9 Winlight 168%
10 AdWays 168% 11/17/2010
Deloitte News Release (PDF)

Nov 15, 2010

DeNA partners with HI and Interactive Brains to provide 3D contents /Venture Now

DeNA announced that it collaborates with HI, 3D rendering engine software developer, and Interactive Brains, 3D avatar creator, including capital alliance for developing a 3D platform for next generation.

The company plans to create development and usage environment of 3D contents for Flash in 2011 and HTML5 in 2012. In addition to PC, it provides the environment for smartphone in order for contents providers to develop contents for multi devices with single source.

DeNA will accept 1600 of new shares (102,111 yen per share) that HI issues on 29 November to acquire 5.2% and also plans to acquire a part of existing shares of Interactive Brains.

Venture Now 11/15/2010

[Asiajin] Nico Nico Douga Turns In The Black In Full-year Result And To Open New Office In Harajuku

Asiajin 11/14/2010
Dwango, the parent of the company running Japan’s largest video sharing site Nico Nico Douga, announced its full-year consolidated financial statements (Oct. 2009 thru Sep. 2010) last week, which showed us Nico Nico Douga had turned in the black for the first time in their full-year result. (In their monthly earnings, it already turned in the black last March.)
They unveiled the following financial results and their user attributes.
Financial results:
Net sales: JPY1.846B (=USD23.1M)
Premium membership: JPY1.457B (=USD18.2M)
Ad sales: JPY257M (=USD3.2M)
Affiliate sales: JPY48M (=USD0.6M)
Reward points sales and others: JPY84M (=USD1.1M)
Operating income: JPY115M (=USD1.4M)

Nov 12, 2010

Brand Dialog won an award at Tokyo Prefecture Venture Technology Award /

Brand Dialog announced that Knowledge Suite, its SaaS service using its original GRID technology, received a prize from Tokyo Prefecture Venture Technology Award 2010 organized by Tokyo Prefecture.

Screening criteria are novelty/creativity, completeness of technology, originality, marketability, and growth potential. Brand Dialog has its original grid technology, Promotional Grid, which reuses CPU/HDD resource of external PCs and servers to build virtual super computer (GRIDY Cloud) and provides its high processing capability and large scale of storage capacity with low price.

The company won the prize for providing Knowledge Suite, SaaS SFA/CRM business application, for safe and with low cost. 11/11/2010

Nov 11, 2010

GMO Group launches Groupon type service, Kumapon by GMO, aiming at top 3 /Venture Now

Kumapon by GMO adopts One Deal a Day policy to sell discount coupon of gourmet, hotel, esthetic clinic, and schools with less than a half price.

Among Groupon type services, it is very late to enter the market, but it will take advantage of GMO Group network with 35 million of active monthly users. It gives GMO Tokutoku Point for coupon buyers, which can be used at 13,000 venues with over 6 million goods and also at the group's EC shop.

Venture Now 11/10/2010 

PC-EGG launches Telne allowing to make telephone conference room /Venture Now

Telne allows any users to make a telephone conference room using any telephone devices with a phone number including fixed-line phones, IP phones and mobile phones.  If a user register his/her own number and call a dedicated number for Telne, the service recognizes a caller and direct the call to a conference room that he/she has set up.

Different from soft phones, any application software or head set is necessary. It is free to register or use.

The company also plans to provide Telne API which is used as a cloud service.

Venrture Now 11/10/2010

Nov 10, 2010

KDDI partners with Colopl, location-based game provider /ITpro

KDDI and Colopl announced that they jointly provide au one Colopl+, location-based game platform. The service starts November 11 for au feature phones, and also for Android smartphones from late November.

KDDI said au one Colopl + is a portal of location-based services, to which location-based advertising and other services than games will be considered to be added. At the launch, 3 games running on the platform are to be prepared. API of au one Colopl+ is open to third party developers which will provide games or utility applications.

Colopl has provided Colony na Seiaktsu PLUS since 2005, and the number of users surpasses 1.5 million as of November 10, 2010. The company announced that it will provide Colopl+ for NTT Docomo and Softbank as well as KDDI, including other Android devices and iPhone in late November.

ITpro 11/10/2010

Liveout develops instant search technology showing search result in typing / Venture Now

LIVEOUT Search is a instant search service which mash-up APIs such as Google, Bing, Amazon, and Twitter. Users can change search engines without page transitions. There are 38 APIs including, Google web, image, and books, Bing web and news, Hotpepper gourmet, Jaran hotel, Web R25 news, Yahoo category and auction, Amazon items, Rakuten items, Twittwer, and Youtube.

It also has functions tuned to the level that is capable for business use such as mapping of search results, clipping to Evernote, keywords suggestion, and cashing results to show quickly.

The company plans to provide business tools of LIVEOUT brand by making LIVEOUT portal site.

Venture Now 11/9/2010

[TechCrunch] NTT-IP Invests 1 Million In New Partner EnglishCentral

TechCrunch 11/10/2010
NTT Investment Partners and EnglishCentral have formed an alliance to further online English language training in Japan. The partnership also means a one million dollar investment from NTT Partners into the cloud-based ESL platform.
EnglishCentral users watch and interact with online videos and receive feedback based on their performance. The NTT Group’s primary business is as as broadband video carrier and it plans on taking advantage of its latest partnership to expand its Virtual English service, which is a prepackaged language training program for NTT’s broadband customers. ...

VC expands foreign investment

Venture Capitals expand investment in foreign companies, such as startups in Asia growing rapidly. IPO is so active in Asia that it is easier to get return on investment. Strong yen also accelerates overseas investment.

SBI Holdings agreed on establishing venture fund with Fudan University in China. It plans to set up US$ 80 million of fund within the first half of 2011 and invest in startups such as bio, green tech, and IT launched from Fudan University. The company also plans to set up a fund targeting for potential companies in Brazil or North Africa in the near future.

An amount of foreign investment of SBI in the first half of 2010 (April to September) was 37.1 billion yen increased by 50% on a year-over-year basis.

CyberAgent's subsidiary, CyberAgent Ventures will establish a fund to invest in Asian startups in the next spring. Total amount is expected to be 5 billion yen. Its target will be EC or Internet advertising in Vietnam or Indonesia. The corporate VC set up 1.2 billion yen of fund this month focusing on greater China jointly with Japan Asia Investment.

Jafco expands target segments from IT to green technology. Its foreign investment of the first half of 2010 increased by 61% to 5 billion yen. Especially investment in Asia increased three times. In October, it established a fund with $80 million investing in Asian startups.

Nikkei 11/10/2010

Nov 9, 2010

Phyzios raised 450 million yen

Phyzios announced that it raised 450 million yen from five venture capitals, including Globis Capital Partners, Daiwa Corporate Investment, Nissei Capital, Mizuho Capital, and University of Tokyo Edge Capital.

Phyzios is launched from University of Tokyo developing physical simulation technology which treats any materials as particles with different properties.  With the technology, the startup develops PHYZIOS Studio, game or art creation tool, and iPhone/iPad applications on its own or partnering with other companies.

The company won Innovation Winner Award competing among 35 startups from around the world at Plug and Play iEXPO 2010, presentation conference of technology ventures held at Plug and Play Tech Center, incubation center at Silicon Valley.

Phyzios plans to strengthen human resource with this capital. Also it aims to extend partnering activities such as providing upper grade version of Tomica Hyper Rescue Lite co-developing with Takara Tomy Entamedia.

CNET 11/9/2010

Top 10 services share 90% of total prepaid coupon sales

According to the result of research conducted by LUXA, prepaid coupon site operator, total number of Groupon-type services surpassed 100 for this seven months since the first service launched and total sales from April exceeds 1.2 billion yen.

Estimated sales drastically increased from 360 million yen in September to 560 million yen October. However 90% of total revenue is occupied by top 10 companies.

Venture Now 11/9/2010

Yahoo Japan and COMEL launches digital signage ads

Yahoo Japan and Softbank Group company, COMEL, started to provide digital signage advertising service tied-up with Yahoo! Japan contents. The service provides ads packaged with Yahoo contents customized for characteristics of a location where the signage is placed.

At the launch, it distributes Yahoo Uranai (fortune-telling) to AEON Channel which has 1000 displays set in 116 AEON shopping malls and JACLA Vision with 300 digital signage media deployed at driving schools that Japan Car Life Assist operates.

CNET 11/9/2010

CyberAgent and JAIC set up $15 million fund for greater China

CyberAgent Ventures and Japan Asia Investment jointly established a fund, CA-JAIC China Internet Fund II, L.P., investing in promising startups in greater China.

Total amount of the fund is US$15 million invested by CyberAgent, JAIC and others. The targets are Internet related business in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Both had set up US$22.8 million fund in 2006 April. In the past they invested in StarCloud Media, operating, Chinese largest video sharing service, or Sunfun Info, operating SNS, iPartment, which has over 25 million users in China and Taiwan.

Venture Now 11/8/2010

Nov 8, 2010

Recochoku partners with NTT Docomo launching a new music store

Recochoku and NTT Docomo jointly launches Docomo Market Music Store powerd by Recochoku from December 6. iMode users can buy music without registration and also it allows users to use Docomo Point for purchase.

The music store plans to provide about 1 million titles without ringtone features, which is the largest scale ever for music download service for mobile phones. All titles can be previewed and also it is possible to buy all titles in an album at one time. 11/8/2010

FoodLog analyzes meal with image analysis technology from University of Tokyo

foo.log announced that it renewed design and features of its food-focused lifelog service, FoodLog, including Twitter linkage.

FoodLog analyzes a meal by just posting photos of food. It tells you whether you take well balanced meal and allow you to manage your physical condition, diet, and improve your food life.

The image analysis technology is originally developed in University of Tokyo which licenses the patent to the company.

Venture Now 11/8/2010 

Nov 5, 2010

Netmile launches research service in China partnering with has video review about goods which 2.43 million users actually uses under their own names. When its users login to the site, questionnaire is displayed.

Target customers are government offices and consumer goods makers which are using research service of Netmile in Japan.

Venture Now 11/4/2010

Bilcom integrates operations with digital marketing company in China

Bilcom announced that it agreed on management integration with Shanghai YMG China. Bilcom sets up 100% subsidiary, BILCOM China in April 2011, and transfers digital marketing business unit of Shanghai YMG China to BILCOM China.

Bilcom is a PR agency with strength in digital marketing. The company said that the integration with Shanghai YMG China will allow them to provide digital solution utilizing social media in China. Also it plans to provide digital solutions to not only Japanese customers, but also Chinese or Western customers.

CyberAgent announced Ameba becomes a cash cow

CyberAgent announced its annual financial settlement ending September 2010. Ameba business including blog service, Ameblo, and virtual community, Ameba Pigg, made 2.48 billion yen of operating profit increased by 2.7 billion yen from the last year. A number of users are increasing by 300,000 to 400,000 per month, which reaches 11.66 million as of the end of October. A revenue of the business unit in the forth quarter of the fiscal term is 2.6 billion yen, 1.5 billion of which is advertising and the rest is from paid service such as mobile games.

ARPU per month is 1455 yen for PC service and 1043 yen for mobile service as of September. It has been rapidly increasing for the past three months, which is mainly due to casino game and fishing game on Ameba Pigg.

Ameba business unit is focusing on smartphone applications including social networking service as well as services for feature phones. The company aims to generate at least 4 billion yen of profit next fiscal year with Ameba business.

CNET 11/5/2010

Adways starts to provide AppDriver, the first CPI-based ads service in Japan

AppDriver is an ad service for smartphone apps developers, which allows them to attract customers with affiliate ads and to monetize with reward ads on a single dashboard at the same time.

The biggest characteristic is that it adopts CPI (Cost Per Install) which determines the commission based on number of installs for the first time in Japan. Another advantage is that it is easy to place reward ads by just embedding SDK.

Reward ads is a kind of affiliate ads which gives virtual goods or reward points when users view the ads and take actions such as buying goods or registering to services.

Venture Now 11/5/2010

Nov 4, 2010

DigiDock, social game developer, merges Ideallink

Ideallink was founded on May 2007 providing document sharing service, Hot.Docs. Several venture capitals including Corepeople Partners has invested in the startup. According to Mr. Yamamoto, president of Ideallink, the company started social application business from the end of the last year and sold Hot.Docs to Baidu.

DigiDock was founded on June 2008. Its flagship game on mixi, Mobatetsu has more than 200,000 users. On August 2010, it raised 50 million yen from IncubateFund.

Venture Now 11/4/2010 

Social lending service, AQUSH, raised capital from Silicon Valley based VC fund

Exchange Corporation, social lending service, AQUSH, operator announced that it accepted an investment from Silicon Valley based VC fund, 500Startups.

Borrowers and lenders on AQUSH can trade without other financial institutions, which allows borrowers to borrow with appropriate interest rate for their credit risk and renders to decide rate of return based on their acceptable risk. Since its launch on December 2009, the total amount of loan application surpasses 1.16 billion yen.

Dream News 11/4/2010

mixi announced "Social Phone" linking "my miku"(friends) data with address book of Android device

mixi announced to provide a new service, Social Phone, which allows users to view status update in mixi or to link friends' data in mixi with address book of a smartphone.

Social Phone will be available on smartphones with Android 2.2 or later. The service is only available for Softbank Mobile until the end of June of 2011. Users can download the application on Android Market. A part of mobile devices have the application pre-installed.

CNET 11/4/2010

Nov 2, 2010

Ameba Pigg Android app released using Adobe AIR

CyberAgent launched Android app of Ameba Pigg, avatar community, which was developed using Adobe AIR for Android. The app is free on Android Market.

It plans to sell the app on multi-stores including Docomo Market and also will release an app of AmebaPico, English version of Ameba Pigg in the next year.

ITmedia 11/1/2010

NTT Investment Partners invests in Nihon Gigei, cloud solution provider

NTT Investment Partners invests 38 million yen through its operating fund by an allocation of new shares of Nihon Gigei.

Nihon Gigei provides web services for business customers on cloud computing platform taking advantage of its original approach combining technology and art.

NTT Investment Partners press release 11/1/2010

DeNA announced Q2 earnings - Revenue tripled on a year-to-year basis to 27B yen

DeNA announced the financial statement of its second quarter (2010 July-September). The revenue is 27 billion yen and the operating profits is 13.6 billion yen.
The biggest contributor for the growth is social media business such as virtual goods sales of social games, which shares 23.2 billion yen.

The company's operating social networking service, Mobage-town reaches 21.67 million users. It has 241 of 3rd party game develops providing 567 game titles. Moba-coin, virtual money for social games, is consumed 18 times more than January of this year.

Yahoo! Mobage, social game service for PC launched on October 7th, has 840,000 users as of October 28th. 15% of users are 10s, 29% for 20s and 56% for over 30s. It has succeeded to acquire higher aged users than Mobage-town, which is aligned with its original intention.

CNET 11/1/2010 

Nov 1, 2010

GREE invests in mig33, Singapore based mobile SNS

The investment is the series C round for mig 33, which seems to use the capital for expanding the services to smartphones. Other investors are not disclosed. GREE invests several million dollars to obtain several percent.

mig33 is mobile SNS targeting for feature phones, which has 40 million users in total mainly in south east Asia expanding to India, Africa, Middle East and eastern Europe. Monthly active users are said to be around 4 million.

Before the series C, mig33 has got investment of $23.5 million from venture capitals such as Accel Partners, Redpoint and DCM.

TechCrunch 11/1/2010

Moshimo partners with Digital Garage Group to strengthen Twitter linkage

DG Strategic Partners, 100% subsidiary of Digital Garage in charge of strategic investment deals, buys all stocks which the existing shareholder, SBI Veritrance, posseses. This is the first deal for DG Strategic Partners.

Moshimo operates Moshifes, flash marketing type of affiliate service using Twitter launched on this August. Within this year, the company plans to allow to login its drop shipping or affiliate service with Twitter accounts and also Moshimo members (350,000) can post tweets for promotion with its dashboard.

Venture Now 10/29/2010

GREE acquires shares of istyle, cosmetics UGC site, @cosme, operator

GREE announced that it acquires 4.2% of share of istyle from an existing share holder. istyle operates @cosme which is popular in 20s and 30s females. With the acquisition, GREE develops partnership with the company.

CNET 10/29/2010