Dec 26, 2011

[Penn Olson] Smartphone Monetization Platform, Metaps, Announces $4.2 Million in Funding

Having only just formed this past summer, Japan-based Metaps Inc. is a reward advertisement network that allows smartphone developers to create ads that reward users based on actions like installs or registrations. And today it is announcing that the company has raised $4.2 million from a number of venture capital firms. 
A Metaps representative tells me that the company has over 1000 advertisers publishing ads, and over 100 participating developers. The network enables advertising in 25 countries, and has ambitions to become the largest reward advertising network in the Asia region by the end of next year. ...
Penn Olson 12/22/2011 [en]

  • Investors are Intec IT Capital, Neostella Capital, ngi group, Nippon Venture Capital, and SMBC Venture Capital.

IMJ Establishes Venture Capital Arm / Markezine

IMJ establishes a 100% subsidiary, IMJ Investment Partners with 300 million yen in capital, to invest and support product development and management for startups in digital marketing related area in Japan and abroad. The new company will start the business in next January.

Markezine 12/22/2011 [jp]

  • IMJ provides digital marketing services such as web and mobile site development, sales promotion, and consulting. The company was founded in 1996 and went public in 2001.

Dec 21, 2011

SBI Investment and Klab Ventures Jointly Set Up VC / Cnet Japan

SBI Investment and Klab Ventures announced that they jointly establish Startup Laboratory, a venture capital firm.

SBI Investment and Klab Ventures hold 50% respectively of Startup Laboratory. It invests and supports startups in early stage. ...

Cnet Japan 12/21/2011 [jp]

  • Klab Ventures is a VC arm of Klab, social game developer which went public this September. It is not clear how Klab Ventures and Startup Laboratory divide investment deals.

Grow! Inc. Completes $485,000 Convertible Notes Financing For Seed Round / Grow! press release

Grow! Inc. (a Delaware company, CEO/Co-Founder TAKAYUKI Hitotsugi), a developing and managing company of ‘Grow! -Social Tipping Platform-, completed a $485,000 financing to support its overseas expansion and development on Dec.15, 2011. Grow! Inc. will release official version of Grow! -Social Tipping Platform- on Jan.10, 2012
Investors include ngi group, CYBRiDGE Ventures, SunBridge, MOVIDA Japan and others.

  • Grow! lets users to buy points to tip $1 to creators of web contents. Publishers can place Growbutton on their web site like Facebook like! or Tweet button.

Dec 16, 2011

Brainsync Raises 60M Yen From Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital / Venture Now

It is the second fundraising this year from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital for Brainsync following 100M yen in this January.

The company will use the capital for enhancement of syncl, a web service to connect creators and fans, which was launched in February, 2007. ...

Venture Now 12/16/2011 [jp]

  • Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital is actively investing in startups this month including NEXTBOOK and

CyberAgent Ventures Opens Japan's Largest Incubation Office / Cnet Japan

CyberAgent Ventures (CA Ventures) opens Startup Base Camp, an incubation office focused on Internet related startups at February 22, 2012.

Startups in which CA Ventures invests or partners will move in. CA Ventures also moves to the office. It simulates around 100 companies to be located in the future and supports them to find partners or hiring.

Startup Base Camp has 1200 square meters at 2 or 3 minutes from Aoyama Ichome station. The VC says it is the largest scale in Japan. ...

Cnet Japan 12/16/2011 [jp]

  • Along with increasing incubators or accelerators, incubation office and co-working spaces are increasing such as Samurai Startup Island, NOMAD NEW'S BASE, Lightningspot, and B Dash Lab.

Oh My Glasses Raises Seed Round Aiming Zappos For Glasses / TechCrunch Japan

Mr Taddy launched closed beta of Oh My Glasses, EC sites for glasses. Also it revealed that it raised capital from B Dash Ventures, ImproVista and individual investors. The amount is not disclosed, but it is considered to be several dozen million yen. ...

TechCrunch Japan 12/15/2011 [jp]

  • Vertical EC is appearing recently in Japan as well following success of Zappos. The recent fundraising case of such EC is by The Jade Group operating, a shoes online store, which raised 700 million yen in this November.

Event Ticket Platfrom, PeaTix Moves To Silicon Valley Raising Fund From 500 Startups And Others / TechCrunch Japan

PeaTix is one of startups which provide a service to manage ticket sales and participants entry. The startup revealed that it moves its development base to Silicon Valley. In addition, it will soon close a fundraising of around US$700,000 from 500 Startups, DFJ JAIC, Zenshin Capital and some others.

PeaTix is one of business units of Orinoco which was founded by an ex-Amazon team.   It establishes PeaTix as a holding company in US and Orinoco Peatix as a subsidiary in Tokyo. PeaTix in Silicon Valley is mainly in charge of service development, while Orinoco Peatix handles sales and marketing for Japan. ...

TechCrunch Japan 12/15/2011 [jp]

  • Other major event platforms in Japan include Everevo, in which Samurai Incubate invests, Wazoo, in which Recruit Incubation Partners invests, Zusaar, and ATND operated by Recruit.

Dec 15, 2011

Eyeland Operator, Oceans Raises 100M Yen /

Local graph iPhone application, Eyeland operator, Oceans conducted allocation of new shares to JAFCO and GMO Ventures. The amount is around 100 million yen. The company plans to uses the capital for development of Eyeland and hiring.

Oceans raised capital from NetAge on October 2011 as well. It was founded at September 16, 2010. Eyeland is a communication platform using local graph which connects users loosely based on location information. The service was launched at July 6, 2011. It does not require real name registration. Currently it is available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. 12/14/2011 [jp]


Dec 14, 2011

[Penn Olson] Baidu Japan Acquires Simeiji Mobile App Team, For Added Japanese Typing Fun

The Japanese subsidiary of Baidu, the Chinese search engine giant, has acquired the small startup team behind the Simeiji input method editor (IME) app for Android. The free app has been downloaded over a million times already from the Android Market. ...
Penn Olson 12/13/2011 [en]

Dec 13, 2011

Social Translation, Conyac Operator, Anydoor Raised Capital From ngi And Others / Cnet Japan

Anydoor announced that it allocates new shares to ngi Venture Community Fund and Skylight Consulting. The amount is about 32 million yen. ...

Anydoor was founded after winning the top prize at Kigyo Challenge 2009 organized by Skylight Consulting. ...

Conyac allows users to request translation to translators around the world. As of the end of November, the number of users is over 10 thousands. ...

Cnet Japan 12/13/2011 [jp]

  • Tokyo-based similar crowd sourcing translation service, myGengo raised $5M in this September. Along with recent fundraising of Crowdworks, which provides crowd-sourcing of  engineering, crowd-sourcing is expected to be more popular.

NEXTBOOK Raised 121M Yen For Series A Round / Venture Now

An ebook publisher, NEXTBOOK, announced that it conducted allocation of new shares to three VCs and seven individiual investors to raise 121 million yen for its series A round.

VCs include Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and SMBC Venture Capital.

NEXTBOOK was founded in 2010 July. Its main business is ebook publishing. It focuses on creating unique social publishing platform which crowdsources writers, editors and desiners. It targets developing countries for the main market. ...

Venture Now 12/12/2011 [jp]

  •  eBook has not been popular yet in Japan except Manga, but some ebook related  startups succeeded to raise capital from VC. Another example is a social reading service provider, SpinningWorks which raised 41M yen in this October.

Dec 12, 2011

Social Scheduling, Droppy Fundraised From Samurai / Venture Now

Aetel announced that it raised 4.5 million yen from Samurai Incubate Fund III by allocation of new shares.

Aetel was founded by Yohei Isobe, student of Wased University, in this June. It has an office in Waseda University Incubation Center where Livesense, a recently listed startup, used to be based.

Other eight members are university students. All of them are involved with development of social scheduiling service, Droppy to be launched at the beginning of 2012. ...

Droppy allows users to follow (drop) calender on Droppy to fill their own schedule. There are various types of calenders such as event schedule of IT companies, CD sales date of artists, and program of sports games. With both human resoruce and crowling, it gathers and registers calenders. ...

Venture Now 12/9/2011 [jp]

  • Students startups are recently increasing more rapidly than ever, including Wondershake (ONL and Teclosion winner), Labit (IVS 2011 Fall winner), and Facematch (SF Japan Night winner)

Dec 9, 2011

[TechCrunch] TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing Winner OrderWithMe Raises $3 Million From Infinity Venture Partners, SOSventures

The winner of the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing 2011, group buying platform OrderWithMe, today announced it has raised a US$3 million A round. The fresh money comes from Japan- and China-based Infinity Venture Partners as the lead investor and existing (seed) investor SOSventures, barely a month after the China-based startup walked away with the Disrupt Beijing Cup and a US$50,000 check. 
The service wants to solve a difficult problem for US merchants that are interested in purchasing goods – in bulk and at discounted prices – in China. The (mainly) American team handpicks daily inventory deals from Chinese companies – if a sufficient number of merchants indicates interest in the deal, it happens (if not, the offer is canceled – just like with Groupon). OrderWithMe handles payment, shipping, etc. in China for its customers.

  • Infinity Venture Partners has invested in many startups in China, which might be even more than in Japan. It also invests in Groupon Japan.

KDDI and Colopl Launches au Jimotalk, Location-based Word-of-moth Service / Mynavi

KDDI and Colopl announced to start to provide jointly au Jimotalk for au feature phones and au's Android smartphone.

au Jimotalk is one of location-based services on au one Colopl, a location-based service platform jointly operated by KDDI and Colopl.

Based on location of users, it allows to share word-of-mouth about events at the place around or they live. Users can search by location where they are or they select. Information of shops and restaurants and rankings are shown as well.

Mynavi 12/8/2011 [jp]

  • Colopl operates Colony na Seikatsu Plus, a location-based game for feature phone and smartphone, which has been successful to partner with over a hundred of local venues.

FookyZ Fundraises From Samurai Fund To Develop Social Friend Introduction / Venture Now

FookyZ announced that it conducted allocation of new shares of around 4.5 million yen to Samurai Incubate Fund III.

FookyZ was founded in 2010 July. ... It has mainly provided consulting service, but it plans to shift to development and operation of its own product. The first product is Tomomatome, social friend introduction service planned to launch at the end of next February. ...

It consists of self introduction to share what you like or want to recommend and introduction by your friends, which allows you to connect with others. ...

Venture Now 12/8/2011 [jp]


Dec 6, 2011

Aiming To Improve Way Of Working, Crowdworks Raises Capital From CyberAgent /Cnet Japan

Crowdworks announced to conduct allocation of new shares to CyberAgent Ventures and individual investors. It does not disclose the amount.  With the capital, in addition to strengthen business base, it will hire engineers for closed beta version of CrowdWorks, a crowd sourcing service for creators planned to release on February 2012.

Crowdworks was founded at November 11th. CrowdWorks allows engineers and creators to accept orders of development of smartphone applications or web sites from customers on the web. It also aims to allow creators to make proposal to customers. ...

Cnet Japan 12/6/2011 [jp]

  • There are some translation services such as MyGengo and Anydoor for crowd sourcing startups. It may be the first crowd sourcing startup for engineers in Japan.

Dec 5, 2011

[Penn Olson] Japan’s Mobile Giant I-Freek Opens First International Office in Singapore

I-Freek is a listed company that business revolves around the mobile Internet sector in Japan, including everything from content to games, consulting to marketing. 
Eyeing opportunities outside of Japan, I-Freek took its first step outward and planted its flag in sunny Singapore. The official launch of the office was held last Friday.
Penn Olson 12/5/2011 [en]

  • There are several other Japanese Internet companies than Gree and DeNA which set up an office in Singapore such as Vega, EC operator which set up Nubee, game developer, e-factor, reward ads for mobile which set up a subsidiary, Metaps, and Mediba, mobile ad agency.

Social Game Developer, gumi Raises 2B Yen /TechCrunch Japan

There are some large scale of fundraising of game developer recently. It is one of the largest one. Investors include Jafco, DBJ Capital, Shinsei Bank, Nissei Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital and Tecmo Koei Holdings. The valuation at post money is 12 billion yen. ...

gumi seems doing very well recently. It released FIFA World Class Soccer jointly with EA last month, which becomes popular on Gree. According to CEO, Kunimitsu, a monthly revenue on November was 600 million yen, which will be double in December.


gumi aims IPO next year. It has raised 700 million yen before from several investors including ngi group, NTT Investment Partners, and Gree.

TechCrunch Japan 12/5/2011 [jp]

  • Recent large amount of fundraising of game developers include Vega (1B yen), One Of Them (300M yen), UEI (500M yen), and Aiming (1.2B yen).

Nokisaki Raises 50.1M Yen From Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital /Venture Now

Rental space search and booking service, operator, Nokisaki announced to raise 50.1 million yen from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital's operating fund.

With the fundraising, the company will strengthen sales force to increase rental spaces. ... was launched in 2008 April, which allows users to search and book rental spaces for a week, a day, or a certain time slot. Main users are food vans and sellers which does not have brick and mortar stores.

Venture Now 12/2/2011 [jp]

  • Samurai Incubate invested in Nokisaki in 2010 January.

Dec 1, 2011

CyberAgent Ventures Invests In Social Recruiting Service, garbs /Nikkei Press Release

garbs was founded at January 12, 2011 to provide social recruiting service. Its main service, Social Job Posting is an Facebook application allowing anyone to post recruiting info on Facebook Page easily, which has been used for over 1300 Facebook pages in 19 countries. ...

Nikkei Press Release 11/30/2011 [jp]