Dec 19, 2012

Accounting Application, CFO Raises 50M Yen From DCM / TechCrunch Japan

CFO, which pitched freee, accounting application for small businesses, at Startup Battle of TechCrunch Tokyo in this November raises 50 million yen from Silicon Valley based venture capital, DCM. It is the first fundraising from an external investor for CFO.

freee is still beta version open to only some users, but the company is developing it aiming to officially launch early next year. With the fundraising, it intends to speed up the development by hiring.

The cloud application has advantage in importing data in bank and credit card accounts to automatically journal them. ...

TechCrunch Japan 12/19/2012 [jp]

  • CFO was founded in July 2012. It is not so usual that an enterprise application startup succeeds to raise fund of 50 million yen before officially launching products. DCM may highly evaluate the beta product as well as the founder team.

Dec 18, 2012

[Tech In Asia] Japanese Animation Studio Has Global Potential, Receives Silicon Valley Investment

Recently Silicon Valley-based Fenox Venture Capital announced its investment in Japan’s Dream Link Entertainment Inc., which it notes is the largest Flash animation company in that country. 
I was initially a little curious as to why Fenox would be interested in investing in a Flash animation company, given the current trajectory of Flash as a technology. I’m told that the draw of DLE as a company is in the popular characters it has created, and in its style of animation and storytelling – which the firm believes has huge potential in the global market. DLE animations have previously won ‘Best Animation’ and ‘Best Director’ at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. ...
Tech In Asia 12/13/2012 [en]

  • DLE defines its concept as Fast Animation which provides short, low cost, and frequently updated new content to users' preferred devices whenever they want. Along with penetration of smartphone, tablet, and Internet enabled any devices including TV, the combination of technology and animation which DLE provides would create larger businesses in the future.

[The Next Web] Japanese phone optimization startup Fuller grabs $1.2m from m8 Capital and ASAHI Net

Fuller, the mobile optimization startup based in Japan has nailed down 100 million Yen ($1.2m) in a seed funding. The round was led by the UK’s m8 Capital and ASAHI Net, the Japanese Internet and cloud service provider. 
Fuller, describes itself as ‘a next-generation mobile software development company and was established in November 2011. The company’s founders met at the University of Tsukuba, and the firm now boasts an all-star team of Japan’s leading young developers. 
Using the cash injection, Fuller will continue to work on rethinking ways to deal with mobile utilities. In other words, the firm finds ways to make phones faster, smarter and easier to use. At the moment, the company is working on optimization technology which will be launched as an Android app outside of Japan in early 2013. 
The app is already in use in Japan and it helps users to monitor and improve the ‘health’ of their phone (battery life etc) using an avatar-based UI.
The Next Web 12/17/2012 [en]

  • It is very rare that a Japanese startup raises capital from UK's venture capital. Its app to be launched soon, AppQuarium allows users to kill unused tasks and to uninstall unused apps using gamification feature, raising fish.

Dec 17, 2012

[Tech In Asia] Japan’s DeNA and Korea’s KT Corporation Partner for Mobile Games Exchange

Japan’s DeNA (TYO:2432) announced today that it will be teaming up with KT Corporation (NYSE:KT) in Korea to ‘mutually exchange mobile social games’ between the companies’ respective networks. 
This means that KT will offer selected games from Daum Mobage, which is DeNA’s platform in Korea which it operates with the popular Daum web portal. It will also help out with billing integration for in-game purchases of Daum Mobage virtual currency through its Olleh Market. 
Likewise, DeNA will offer selected KT titles on its Mobage platform in Japan, lending marketing and consultation support as well. The cross border partnership will likely serve both companies well. ...
Tech In Asia  12/14/2012 [en]

  • The rival of DeNA, GREE announced a partnership with SingTel last month. Both mobile gaming companies are getting successful in foreign market this year. In US or Europe, they are more focusing on acquisition or partnership with game studios, however, in Asia, it looks that they consider telcos are also important players to tie up with.

Crowdworks And Axelbeat Form A Partnership For Crowd-sourcing Overseas / Cnet Japan

Crowdworks and Axelbeat cooperate to get into crowd-sourcing market in foreign countries. Axelbeat is a subsidiary of Axelmark.

With the alliance, both launch offshore crowd sourcing to outsource jobs on Crowdworks to developers in Vietnam and Philippines utilizing a network of Axelbeat, which runs advertising services for foreign market.

They plan to expand the service in other South East Asian countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia as well as launch English site of Crowdworks allowing foreign companies and freelancers to place and accept orders.

Crowdworks is a crowd-sourcing service focusing on engineers and designers which was launched on this March as closed beta. A total amount of jobs placed surpasses 770 million yen and it is used by more than 2,700 companies.

Cnet Japan 12/14/2012 [jp]

  • Crowd sourcing service is one of the hottest areas in Internet services this year. It is reasonable for these services to take advantage of wage gap to enable offshore development. There will be more crowd-sourcing services going global, especially in Asia from Japan next year.

Yahoo Japan Acquires CyberAgent FX To Enter Into Financial Business / Internet Watch

Yahoo Japan announced on December 12th that it acquires CyberAgent FX. It it the first entry for Yahoo into financial business. The amount is 21 billion yen. Yahoo acquires all shares from CyberAgent to make the company 100% subsidiary. ...

Internet Watch 12/12/2012 [jp]

  • Both Yahoo Japan and CyberAgent are deeply committed to smartphone recently. Yahoo has acquired, invested, and partnered with many startups and large corporations. While, CyberAgent spends 3 billion yen for advertising of smartphone apps in just one month to acquire the market share. But, the strategy look quite different from each other. CyberAgent focuses more on media and advertising domain by selling the FX service. Yahoo seems expanding the coverage of Internet and mobile related services.

Dec 10, 2012

Note Sharing Service, U-NOTE Raises From Three VCs / Cnet Japan

U-NOTE announced fundraising of 11 million yen from partyfactory, VOYAGE VENTURES, and MOVIDA JAPAN.

U-NOTE operates U-NOTE allowing users to share notes of lectures or classes created by collaboration in real-time. It has had over 15,000 notes created including summary of various events.

U-NOTE was launched in June 2012. ... The founder attended internship of VOYAGE GROUP, IncubateCamp, an incubation program by IncubateFund, and was selected for the second batch of KDDI mugen Labo. ...

It plans to provide paid functions for event organizers from gathering information prior the event, archiving the contents, to feedback for the event.

Cnet Japan 12/10/2012 [jp]

  • It does not seem so easy to monetize with the service, however, it is an interesting project to create contents which are currently not shared as knowledge in text format. It may have great potential.

Social Lunch Is Acquired After A Year and 4 Months Since Launch By Social Game Provider, Donuts / TechCrunch Japan

Social Lunch is a matching service to allow users to have lunch with someone they do not know to extend their network of business or hobby. The operator of the service, SyncLunch announced acquisition by Donuts, a social game developer. SyncLunch was founded in August last year, so it took only a year and four months.

Social Lunch launched in October last year selected as one of teams of the first batch for KDDI mugen Labo, KDDI's incubation program. Currently it has 60 thousands users. ...

Donuts not only provides mobile games such as Boso Retsuden Tansha no Tora, but also operates portal site targeting women called Haukore. ...

TechCrunch Japan 12/10/2012


Dec 3, 2012

Road+ Operator, DIMERS Lab Raises 28M Yen Entering Into O2O Market / Cnet Japan

DIMERS Lab announced fundraising by allocation of new shares to SMBC Venture Capital and several angel investors.

DIMERS Lab runs iPhone app, Road+ which gives coupons or mileage points from sponsors by walking a certain distance. With the capital, it plans to hire engineers and to develop new features.

The company aims to add social gift features allowing users to exchange the points with a gift to send friends on Facebook and O2O services collaborating with retailers and drink and food makers.

Cnet Japan11/30/2012 [jp]

  • Walking has a good image for health and environment. Also, it is related to location information and easy to integrate gamification aspects like walking race. Considering these factors, it is very suited for campaign of brands.

Nov 30, 2012

[e27] CyberAgent Ventures funds Indonesian online baby product platform Bilna

CyberAgent Ventures has just announced their investment in Bilna, an Indonesian based e-commerce platform for baby products. 
Following the investment in the leading Indonesia’s online shopping marketplace, Tokopedia, the investment for Bilna is the second company that CyberAgent Ventures, Inc. has invested in Indonesia. ...
... Late last month, CyberAgent Ventures also invested in Taiwan’s food recipe social sharing network iCook. Last week, they invested in Vietnam food review site

e27 11/27/2012 [en]

[Tech In Asia] GMO VenturePartners Shifts Focus to Southeast Asia With $12M Fund

Japan’s GMO VenturePartners is today announcing the launch of a one billion yen (or about $12 million) venture fund that will see the firm focus on opportunities in the Southeast Asia region. The group is the VC arm of GMO Internet Group (TYO:9449), and its previous investments include China’s Qihoo 360, which the company invested in with its GMO VP Fund I. It notes that investment from existing funds in Japan and China will continue as well. ...
Tech In Asia  11/27/2012 [en]

  • Corporate VC of Internet companies like CyberAgent or GREE have been quite active in South East Asia. Recruit is another corporate VC committed. Compared to CVC, not many pure VCs from Japan invest in startups in these countries. It maybe because it is still not so easy for startups in the region to exit, which is risky for financial investor, but for corporate VCs, it can take advantage of the investments for its expansion. 

[Tech In Asia] Japan Overtakes US to Become Top Country for Google Play Revenues

The folks over at App Annie have released a pretty fascinating report that shows some interesting shifts that are happening in the mobile space. Perhaps the most surprising is the fact that Japan has overtaken the US in Google Play (Android’s app store) revenue, making this the first time that the US did not occupy the top spot in the country rankings. ...
Tech In Asia  11/30/2012 [en]

  • Mobile game developers in Japan have been successful to make money in feature phones. Japanese users are accustomed to pay for games on mobile more than in US. ARPU may be much higher. It is reasonable that along with the move that many of feature phone users switch to smartphone, Google Play apps in Japan starts to monetize very well. It is interesting to see if the growth is a specific trend only in Japan, or the revenue will go up like in Japan in other countries including US in the future.

Nov 27, 2012

Printing EC, Raksul Raises 120M Yen From YJ Capital And ANRI / TechCrunch Japan

Raksul provides price comparison and quotation request service for printings such as business card, shop card, catalog, pamphlet, and brochure on the Internet. It raised 110 million yen in this April, and for the latest round, it receives 120 million yen from Yahoo's venture fund, YJ Capital and ANRI. As far as we know, it is the first deal for YJ Capital. ...

Raksul is growing steadily with 250 thousands active users per month, on which 1300 printing companies registers. In addition, it started its own printing service from September, which provides low-priced printing service utilizing idle time of printing machine of contracted printing companies. The capital of the round will be used to accelerate the business. ...

TechCrunch Japan 11/26/2012 [jp]

  • Printing EC is not a trendy B2C service like social media or smartphone apps, but seems to be an industry which can become more efficient taking advantage of Internet. It is interesting that YJ Capital selected the relatively modest industry for its first deal comparing the fact that Yahoo itself has invested in or acquired trendy startups such as Kakao Talk or DECOPIC.

Nov 22, 2012

Recruit Takes Stake In Net Marketing, Omiai Operator / Cnet Japan

Net Marketing announced that Recruit Incubation Partners acquired capital of 112 million yen from existing investors. Other investors including founders continue to  possess the same number of shares.

Net Marketing launched Omiai, matching service for marriage hunters on Facebook this February. The number of users surpassed 100 thousands. With the capital participation of Recruit, it aims to increase brand value and awareness for Facebook users.

The company plans to launch smartphone app in December as well as establish 100% subsidiary in US to start providing the service for US users.

Cnet Japan 11/22/2012 [jp]

  • Net Marketing has been providing affiliate ad agency service since 2004. In addition to the existing service and Omiai, it operates Facebook Navi, a portal service for Facebook users such as Q&A, app ranking and review and reward add service for smartphone. Recruit runs Zexy, one of the largest marriage related portal sites. There could be various ways of collaboration with Omiai.

Marketplace Of Knowledge And Skills, Coconala Raises 30M Yen / Cnet Japan

WelSelf announced fundraising of 30 million yen from ImproVista.

The company operates a marketplace for knowledge and skills, Coconala, which allows individuals to provide services online which they are good at. It does not take initial fee or monthly fee for sellers and the every service price is 500 yen without exception. Users surpasses 20,000 since its launch on July 3rd. Transactions are over 5,500.

Cnet Japan 11/21/2012 [jp]

  • The current popular services are drawing a portrait for icon of Twitter or Facebook or fortune telling. Yahoo started a similar service in its Yahoo Auction, but Coconala seems doing better than Yahoo so far.

Enterprise Internet Service Provider, TeamSpirit Raises Over 100M Yen From VCs / ITpro

TeamSpirit develops and provides cloud-based human resource management service, Team Spirit, which announced series B finance with over 100 million yen. The investors include Nippon Venture Capital, Nissay Capital, and SMBC Venture Capital. Along with the series A round by and others, the company raises over 200 million yen.

Many consumer Internet startups are fundraising in Japan, but there has been few startups in enterprise Internet service providing on a specific platform which strengthen business by financing from VCs.

TeamSprit is developed on, PaaS of to provide features including time management, expense report, or project management. ...

ITpro 11/22/2012 [jp]

  • The series A was about a year ago, October, 2011. Along with penetration of, it is expected that more enterprise Internet service will grow. 

Sunbridge And Others Invest In Language Cloud, Learning Management System / Cnet Japan

Sunbridge Global Ventures announced that it invested in Language Cloud, which develops Learning management system (LMS) for language schools.

For the round, Digital Garage and 500 Startups invested as well. The deal is done by convertible note.

Language Cloud allows teachers and students to communicate about classes and homework as well as to see notes or to use various features useful for language learning on cloud. In addition, it enables schools to handle communication and management process easily.

Cnet Japan 11/21/2012 [jp]

  • The founders are alumni of an accelerator program, Open Network Lab, in the last year, in which they launched C2C English learning service. They pivoted this year to provide a solution for business customers, which seems doing much better. It might be one of trends this year that more startups look to stable services targeting business customers instead of trying to run social-related services focusing on consumers. 

Nov 21, 2012

Langrich Holdings Raise 50M Yen From KLab Ventures And Other / Cnet Japan

Langrich Holdings announced fundraising from KLab Ventures and three individual investors of about 50 million yen in total.

The company started Langrich, an online English learning service using Skype in 2010. At the launch, it established a corporation in Japan and Philippines, but currently it has a holding company in Singapore to subsidize the two companies. The finance is for the entity in Singapore.

There are many Skype based English learning services, however it has advantage in stable video chat with dedicate line by having office in Cebu in Philippines. ...

Cnet Japan 11/20/2012 [jp]

  • Some people say that education industry would be one of promising area for Internet startups citing several US startups like Khan Acadmy, but there are not very successful business model in Japan yet. Skype-based English learning will be the most potential one in terms of demands from users. But because the entry barrier for the service is not that high, the competition is getting fierce. It is interesting to see whether only a few players become dominant or many more players can exist.

Cookpad Invests 42M Yen In Zaim, Household Accounts App / ITmedia

Zaim, an operator of household accounting service for smartphone, announced allocation of new shares to Cookpad. The amount is 42 million yen. It aims to provide total service related to money by allowing to use from PC and tablet.

Zaim was launched by Takako Kansai individually. She launched iPhone app on July last year, and then Android app on this March. Zaim was incorporated in this September along with surpassing 10 million items of income and expense.

ITmedia 11/21/2012 [jp]

  • Cookpad is the largest recipe site in Japan with over 1.3 million recipes posted. It does not seem that the two services have instant synergy, but the main target users are common, housewives. Since Cookpad is expanding the business such as e-commerce of vegetable, it would have some ideas to take advantage of the investment.

Nov 20, 2012

[e27] Digital Garage invests in Japan’s social food sharing app SnapDish

SnapDish, one of Japan’s biggest social food sharing apps, has just received an investment from Digital Garage. 
SnapDish is an Echelon 2012 alumnus, and since exhibiting at our main event, SnapDish has grown to more than 600,000 downloads. As for the user breakdown, 70% of SnapDish users are female, and approximately a quarter of SnapDish users are international users. To date, there are more than 1.5 million photos uploaded onto the social food photo sharing app. ...
e27  11/19/2012 [en]

  • The amount is not disclosed. Since another food photo sharing service, miil raised 240 million yen in this May, it is expected to be similar size of finance. miil mainly has photos of dishes at restaurants, but SnapDish more focused on home cooking such as Bento.

LINE Provides Cheaper Version Of Official Account, LINE@ For 5,250 Yen Per Month / ITmedia

NHN Japan announced to launch LINE@ from early December, which allows businesses to communicate on LINE. Existing official account costs 2 million yen for initial cost and 1.5 million yen for monthly. LINE@ is a cheaper version of the service with 5,250 yen for both initial and monthly fee.

LINE@ allows businesses to send message, coupon, and sale information to users who adds the account for their friends. The difference with official account is 1) not displayed on official account list page in LINE, 2) not provided with consulting service regarding coupon issuing or others, 3) limitation of users up to 10,000.

According to the company, it has around 30 companies using the official accounts of mainly large corporations including makers, whole sellers, retailers, restaurants, and key TV stations. Lawson, a convenience store chain, has over 4 million subscribers and gets good result such as 100 thousands people come to their stores by issuing a coupon. ...

ITmedia 11/19/2012 [jp]

  • A number of users surpasses 75 million including 35 million in Japan. Along with the O2O service, LINE launched 5 titles of social games. The growth speed of user acquisition seems getting bit slower in Japan. LINE seriously starts monetization of the successful mobile app.

Nov 16, 2012

Online Used Good Marketplace, Shuppin Goes Public On Mothers / Venture Now

Shuppin was founded on August, 2005 by Kei Suzuki, a founder of Sofmap, mass retailer of PC and related products. Just after the establishment of the company, it bought camera EC business called MapCamera from Map Visual Presents, which Mr. Suzuki is a president. It expanded the category to watch and stationary goods, and in 2008, the company acquired MapSports to launch bicycle shop. ...

Venture Now 11/15/2012 [jp]

  • Internet auction such as Yahoo Auction is very popular for used goods. The company differentiates itself from the auction sites by securing products are real and have no trouble. 

Nov 14, 2012

[e27] GREE inks first partnership outside of Japan with SingTel

GREE today announced its exclusive partnership with Singapore Telecommunications, SingTel. The partnership enables direct carrier billing for GREE mobile social games distributed on SingTel’s network in Singapore, GREE’s first of such outside of Japan. 
This news comes after GREE their partnership with Yahoo! Japan last week. 
In the press release, SingTel’s Digital Life Head of Multimedia, Cheon Hai Thoo said, “We are delighted to be the first to offer web-based GREE games with direct billing to our customers on their smartphones. There has been a huge increase in the number of people playing games on their phones and the convenience of paying and receiving one bill while playing GREE’s great range of games is a definite selling point.” ...
e27 11/14/2012 [en]

  • Web-based games are still more popular than native apps on GREE in Japan even for smartphone. If it works as well in Singapore or other countries, it will be big opportunity for SingTel to let users use its billing system bypassing Apple or Google. GREE also announced a plan to support HTML5 on its gaming platform, which is expected to allow more developers to distribute their games for web browser.

Nov 13, 2012

Skyland Invests In Miew, E-book Platform, Viewstock Operator / Cnet Japan

Skyland Ventures announced that it invested in Miew in October for its second deal. Miew was founded in March 2011.

Miew runs Viewstock, e-book platform available on multi-devices including PC, smartphone, and tablet for a major part of its business. Currently it provides solutions with the system for medical related area aiming to become a next generation medical information platform. ...

Cnet Japan 11/12/2012 [jp]

  • Along with the launch of Kindle in Japan at last, e-book market is considered to start growing finally. The competition for general consumer market will become more fierce, but Viewstock seems to target different area. The company provides business customers with the platform. There are not more detailed information, but medical related documents would be one of the vertical industry.

Nov 12, 2012

Location-based Game, Colopl Goes Public On Mothers At December 13th / Cnet Japan

Colopl is approved for IPO on Mothers of Tokyo Stock Exchange. It plans to be listed on December 13th. ...

Colopl was founded in October, 2008 to provide Colony na Seikatsu, a game application using location information, which the founder, Mr. Baba was operating for his private business. It operates location-based gaming open platform, Colopl. ...

Cnet Japan 11/9/2012 [jp]

  • KDDI invested 500 million yen in the company in June, 2011 to take 5% of shares. Colopl provides O2O service collaborating with offline businesses such as shops, railways, hotels, travel companies and baseball teams. The company also runs many other types of mobile games including card games or action games.
  • Exit of mobile social game developers continues following acquisitions of gloops and Pokelabo, and IPO of enish. The competition in mobile social games are getting more capital intensive than ever.

Social Game, Boku no Restaurant Developer, enish Goes IPO On Mothers / VentureNow

Social app developer, enish is approved for IPO on Mothers market from Tokyo Stock Exchange. The date is December 11th. ...

enish was founded as synphonies 100% funded by Kii on February, 2009. The startup operate mobile social games such as Boku no Restaurant which links location information with restaurants nationwide. In July, 2010, it raised 80 million yen from GREE and had alliance with the company in a year later leading rapid growth. The transaction with GREE in 2011 reaches around 2 billion yen to share 80% of the total amount. ...

Venture Now 11/8/2012 [jp]

  • Although GREE has over 20% share of the company, enish provides games on other platforms including Mobage, mixi, and Han Game. It provides O2O service by tie-up with restaurant chains, hotels. and convenience stores for campaigns.

Nov 8, 2012

[Asiajin] Yahoo! Japan Makes Comprehensive Business Ties With Gree

Yahoo! Japan and Gree just (after the market close) announced that they have made a deal of “comprehensive business ties”. They are to discuss on co-development of social games, as well as establishment of company to promote it. 
They are also talking to set up an joint-investment company for digital video contents, and an entertainment joint-business, joint-CSR and engineers/creators development assistance activities.
Asiajin 11/8/2012 [en]

  • Yahoo Japan co-operates Yahoo Mobage with DeNA, social gaming service for PC. Large Internet companies are becoming active in alliance with other giants recently. DeNA yesterday announced capital and business partnership with CyberAgent's subsidary, Cygames, a developer of global hit social game, Rage of Bahamut. It is not impossible to see large scale of reorganization of the industry in the near future.

Nov 7, 2012

[The Next Web] Rakuten boosts its global retail business with undisclosed deal for French logistics firm ADS

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has made another European acquisition after it bought up French logistics firm Alpha Direct Services (ADS) in an undisclosed deal that it says will bolster its global Web retail businesses, which includes France-based PriceMinister – bought in 2010 for $255 million. 
The deal, which represents its first investment in a logistics firm outside of its native Japan, is its sixth European acquisition since 2010 and Rakuten says that benefits from ten-year-old ADS’s technologies will soon be felt across Europe, and even wider global markets like Japan. ...
The Next Web 11/6/2012 [en]

  • Rakuten has acquired local e-commerce sites in many countries in Europe, US, Asia, and South America. It is enhancing the area for acquisition or investment from EC to other related areas such as Kobo, e-book service and device in Canada, Wuaki, video-on-demand in Spain, and Pinterest, social networking. 

Nov 6, 2012

Test Automation For Android, Sonix Opens Office In North America And Singapore / Cnet Japan

Sonix announced establishment of branch offices in Silicon Valley and Singapore. The company provides Scirocco Cloud, test automation service for Android devices as well as open source software and library for Android.

Scirocco Cloud connects Android devices to its dedicated servers by USB to allow users to test their application through Internet. ...

Overseas offices run marketing activity respectively, and also develop testing environment in data center for devices sold locally. There are competitors such as Perfecto Mobile which covers North America, UK, and Israel, and Keynote Systems which focuses on North America. Sonix said it plans to operate services for Japan, North America, and South East Asia within one year and a half. ...

Sonix was founded in 2006 and raised 150 million yen from Dentsu Digital Holdings and Nissay Capital.

Cnet Japan 11/6/2012 [jp]

  • Smartphone applications are becoming boarder less, but still Japanese device market has many Japan-only models from local manufacturers. So, there may be strong needs for the service from foreign developers who want to succeed in Japan market. Also, some app developers from Japan are becoming successful in foreign market. It is very useful for them to be able to test with devices which are not sold in Japan. It is a good example to take advantage of Japanese so-called Galapagos mobile environment. 

Nov 5, 2012

Social "Konkatsu" Site, IBJ To Go Public On JASDAQ / Venture Now

Social Konkatsu, or marriage hunting service operator, IBJ is approved for IPO on JASDAQ from Osaka Securities Exchange, which is planned on December 6th.

IBJ was founded on February, 2006 running several matchmaking related services and life design media services centered on social marriage hunting support site, BridalNet and matchmaking party search site, RUSH. ...

The revenue ending December, 2011 is 1.8 billion yen with 181 million yen of pretax profit.

Venture Now 11/2/2012 [jp]

  • IBJ has a bit complicated history. BridalNet was launched in 2000 as the first marriage information service in Japan. In 2003, Yahoo Japan acquired 100% shares of the company. In 2006, the management became independent as IBJ. In 2009, IBJ merged BridalNet.
  • Operator, TORICO Fundraises To Accelerate Global Expansion / Cnet Japan

Online manga shopping site, operator, TORICO allocates its new shares to SMBC Venture Capital, Mizuho Capital, and Sansei Capital.

Along with finance from Itochu Technology Ventures in this June, the total amount raised is 270 million yen. In addition to expanding existing service, it plans to develop e-book distribution service and global expansion including launching overseas offices. ...

Cnet Japan 11/2/2012 [jp]

  • TORICO was founded in 2005 and launched manga EC site in 2006 which allows users to buy whole collection of a manga title at once. It raised 200 million yen from Itochu, so this finance from the three investors is 70 million yen.

Nov 2, 2012

Skyland Ventures Invest In Music Community Site, CreoFuga / Cnet Japan

CreoFuga was founded in October, 2007 operating music community site, CreoFUGA which has around 6,000 sound creators of professionals as well as amateurs.

CreoFuga raises 9.5 million yen from Skyland Ventures and individual investors. With the capital, it will launch a new online community service connecting professional artists, sound creators and their fans. ...

Cnet Japan 11/2/2012 [en]

  • CreoFUGA is a SNS centered around music contest held on web. Since it is becoming more and more difficult to make money to sell CDs for musicians, reaching directly to fans to sell live tickets or any other goods would be one of alternatives. Also the community would become a good tool for professorial music performers to find a job from corporations for composition or performance of music.
  • Skyland Ventures is a new venture fund launched in this August focusing on seed startups.

[The Next Web] Cubie lands $1.1m to grow its Draw-Something-meets-WhatsApp service in the U.S. and Japan

Cubie, the mobile service that combines drawing features with messaging and chat, has landed $1.1 million in seed funding from a collection of investors across its native Taiwan, Japan and the U.S. The news is further proof of the potential of mobile-centric messaging industry in Asia, and the firm is now set to shift its focus to developing its reach in the U.S. and Japan. 
The fresh capital — which has been put together by B Dash Ventures, NTT Investment Partners, BIGLOBE Capital, Gumi Ventures, Pinehurst, 500 Startups and Andrew Chen — will be used to ramp up its visibility in the two markets and it comes as Cubie celebrates its inclusion in the latest 500 Startup accelerator program. ...
The Next Web 10/31/2012 [en]

  • One of the key elements of success of LINE is considered to be its unique stickers. Cubie advanced the non-text communication further by introducing drawing feature. Smartphone messaging apps seem to be more room for innovation.

Nov 1, 2012

[e27] CyberAgent Ventures invests in Taiwan food recipe social sharing network iCook

iCook, one of Taiwan’s largest recipe social sharing network site, has just announced their investment by CyberAgent Ventures. The amount of the investment is undisclosed. 
Launched 11 months ago, iCook allows anyone to easily share his or her food recipe into the online community. One can access these recipes through the online web app or through their mobile app. To date, iCook has more than 70,000 registered users, with more than 10,000 user generated food recipe on their platform. 
According to CyberAgent ventures, the food recipe social sharing community is slowing getting the attention of main stream population. The reason for this is that there is a demand for food recipes. In Japan, there are similar proven business models that revolves around user generated food recipe platforms. CyberAgent Ventures believes that has strong potential to become the leading player in Taiwan and will take advantage of CyberAgent Inc’s wide network of resources to enhance the company’s growth and value. With the investment, funds will be used primarily to facilitate further growth of users and content. ...
e27 10/30/2012 [en]

  • Cookpad is the leader of recipe sharing site in Japan, which has over 1.3 million recipes and 20 million active users. iCook still does not have so many traction but considering the success of Cookpad, it must have great potential.

CrowdWorks Raises 300M Yen From Itochu And Others / Cnet Japan

CrowdWorks announced allocation of new shares of 300 million yen to Itochu Technology Ventures, Digital Garage, and Suneight Investment.

CrowdWorks runs crowd sourcing service focused on engineers and web designers which allows matching contractees and contractors, executing the work, and paying compensation without meeting face to face. It is also possible to order work by the hour.

The service was launched on March 21 for closed beta. Over 2000 contractees have used it for seven months and the total amount of orders posted exceeds 660 million yen. ...

Cnet Japan 10/31/2012 [jp]

  • Crowd sourcing is one of the hottest areas for Internet related startups recently. Lancers is a direct competitor of CrowdWorks in terms of categories of works. There are also many crowd sourcing services focusing on more specific area such as MUGENUP which focuses on design for social game and Gengo or Conyac which are sourcing translation. Another interesting area would be testing mobile applications such as Launch App, UI Scope, or Mintest.

Oct 31, 2012

Messaging App Balloon Raises 100M Yen From Nissay Capital / TechCrunch Japan

Balloon entered group messaging app market in this May, which is expected to grow in the future with LINE and Kakao Talk in the lead. The application is fully redesigned today (Oct 30) and announced fundraising of 100 million yen from Nissay Capital.

Balloon is in the same category as LINE to provide group messaging and free voice call. With the redesign, the company adds new features of video, sticker, and voice. ...

TechCrunch Japan 10/30/2012 [jp]

  • LINE announced reaching 70 million users in the world. Kakao Talk Japan has partnered with Yahoo Japan, and DeNA entered the market with comm. It seems very tough to compete in the market for startups. However, Balloon tries to differentiate with features which competitors do not have such as sending stickers with voice. 

Oct 26, 2012

Docomo To Launch Startup Support Program With 10B Yen Venture Fund / Cnet Japan

NTT Docomo announced new initiatives aiming to strengthen partnership with startups.

It consists from two initiatives. One is Docomo Innovation Village, a startup support program, which jointly with other supporters provides office space and other environment for several teams selected by judge.

The second is an establishment of a corporate venture fund, Docomo Innovation Fund . Through the fund, it invests in startups from Docomo Innovation Village as well as venture companies having promising services or technologies. It also plans to use the promising services or technologies to improve its services. The amount of the fund is 10 billion yen and the term is to be 10 years. For the fund, the company plans to found a subsidiary for operation.

NTT Docomo has done venture investment through its subsidiary, It said that it is not certain at this moment, but it would be merged with the new subsidiary.

Cnet Japan 10/26/2012 [jp]

  • Another telecom operator, KDDI launched startup support program, Mugen Labo from August 2011 and established venture fund early this year. This Docomo's initiatives are surely to follow these KDDI's activities. NTT Group has CVC arm, NTT Investment Partners. In addition to, it might have to manage some issues internally in the group.

Oct 25, 2012

Social Game Developer, gumi Opens Office In France / Invest In France Agency

gumi, developing and operating social games, decided to go to Paris, France for the first branch office in Europe.

The company was founded in June, 2007 to launch real-time social networking service for mobile and then developed its business centered around mobile games and applications. Its game titles are explosively popular in Japan from its launch.

For global expansion, gumi has already entered in Korea and Singapore, and it aims to expand its mobile contents for online platform in European market. ...

Invest in France Agency 10/24/2012 [jp]

  • gumi operates mobile social games for both feature phones and smartphones mainly on GREE, which is one of its share holders. It raised 2 billion yen from several VCs last December.

Oct 24, 2012

[Tech In Asia] Japan’s DeNA Partners with Yahoo Kimo for Mobile Games in Taiwan

More news from the folks at DeNA (TYO:2432) today as the Japanese gaming company is announcing a partnership to bring its Mobage platform to Taiwanese smartphone users, cooperating with leading local web portal Yahoo Kimo. 
The deal will mean that Mobage mobile apps for iOS and Android will be made available via the games icon at the top of Yahoo Kimo’s mobile portal. The Mobage titles that are currently available in traditional Chinese include popular titles like Ninja Royale and Cygames Inc’s Rage of Bahamut. ...
Tech In Asia 10/24/2012 [en]

  • DeNA has similar type of alliances with Renren and Baidu in mainland China. On the other hand, GREE does not seem so active as DeNA in greater China. Both gaming platform finally starts to make success in US market with such as Rage of Bahamut of Mobage or Monster Quest of Gree. It is interesting to see how they compete in Asian market.

GREE Acquires Pokelabo, Game Developer For 13.8B Yen / Reuters

Gree acquires 100% share of Pokelabo to make it a subsidiary. It aims to strengthen development of mobile social games on smartphone by combining engineer team of both company.

The company plans to buy on October 30th with its own cash and debt. Pokelabo was founded in 2007 and launched mobile social game from 2008. The revenue ending September 2011 was 556 million yen and income was 155 million yen. ...

Reuters 10/24/2012 [jp]

  • Another mobile game developer, Gloops was acquired by Korean online game provider, Nexon for 36.5 billion yen at beginning of the month. It seems a right timing to exit for mobile social game developers. While, Zynga announced to shut down Japan office, which is based on Unoh acquired by Zynga two years ago. Mobile social game becomes more capital intensive and competitive than ever. Some studios would aim to go IPO for the near future, but most of others will choose to be acquired by big companies, otherwise it would be difficult to survive on their own.

Oct 23, 2012

DeNA Launches comm, LINE-Like App Appealing High Quality Communication / TechWave

Mobage operator, DeNA launches LINE-like messaging app, comm on iTunes App Store and Google Play.

comm is a communication app allowing users to chat with stamps or emoticons and free voice call. It seems similar to LINE of NHN Japan, however it appeals high quality of the voice call as well as features which LINE does not have such as sending messages to non comm users and sharing and tagging photos. ...

TechWave 10/23/2012 [jp]

  • Yahoo Japan just announced partnership with Kakao last week. LINE seems dominant of the market with over 30 million users in Japan, but Yahoo and DeNA may consider there are still opportunity to win the market. LINE tries to compete with Facebook by adding time line features, but it does not seem so successful. comm may be able to differentiate with its simple interface and high voice quality. Also these messaging app lets users to upload address list to automatically add friends, which makes easy for users to switch services. Lock-in effect of messaging apps might be lower than we think.

Oct 22, 2012

Yahoo Japan Invests In Kakao Talk Japan For 50% Share / ITmedia

Yahoo Japan announced on October 19th to invest in Kako Japan which runs KAKAO TALK, messenger app for smartphone. Both jointly provides services around KAKAO TALK and others.

Yahoo Japan acquires 50% for allocation of new shares of Kakao Japan, which was 100% owned by KAKAO Corporation.  ...

KAKAO TALK has 65 million users as of the end of September around the world. A number of users in Japan is not disclosed.

ITmedia 10/19/2012 [jp]

  • LINE has similar number of users in the world as Kakao, but in Japan, LINE is much more popular with over 30 million users. Yahoo Japan is focusing on smartphone recently. It is very interesting to see if Kakao can catch up with LINE by the partnership in Japan.

Oct 18, 2012

InnoBeta Raises Capital From MOVIDA To Launch UI SCOPE, Remote Usability Testing / Venture Now

InnoBeta revealed 5 million yen of fundraising from MOVIDA JAPAN with Convertible Notes. InnoBeta was founded on August, 2012. It applied the second batch of MOVIDA SCHOOL and then reached to the finance. ...

UI SCOPE, a remote usability testing service, which was launched on 17th this month, is a crowd sourcing service which shoots monitors gathered on the web site using a smartphone app and provides a client with the video and survey. It costs 3,000 yen per monitor and the company delivers the result within three hours at shortest.

Clients input items to test and questionnaires and choose monitors. It is available to view the test result anytime on the web site. The service allows clients to complete the procedure on the web from order, testing, payment, to delivery.

The company gives out dedicated web camera and pay points equivalent to 500 yen per test. ...

Venture Now 10/17/2012 [jp]

  • Testing service targeting smartphone app developers is becoming hot recently. Usability testing would not be so big market, but definitely the market needs will increase. A concern from client side may be the quality of monitors. The startup has to give out the dedicated web camera which would limit the number of monitors and they may become different from average users because they would get accustomed to the testing soon. But still it is an useful service for most of developers to test quickly.

Oct 15, 2012

[Tech In Asia] Japan’s Social Restaurant Finder ‘Retty’ Raises $1.2 Million, Starts Global Expansion

Japanese social gourmet site/ restaurant finder Retty just announced that it has raised a total of $1.2 million from GREE Ventures, NTT Investment-Partners, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. The startup has not disclosed how many shares were allocated to each of the investors. 
Until today, the service has acquired about 90,000 users, and 90,000 restaurant entries. This means it has a larger collection than other Japanese gourmet sites such as Hotpepper and GuruNavi, Retty CEO Kazuya Takeda says. ...
Tech In Asia 10/12/2012 [en]

  • The largest competitor for Retty would be Tabelog which has over 700,000 restaurants information focusing on users' reviews. Retty tries to differentiate from these competitors by letting users to post reviews with Facebook account which would provide more credibility with users' comments.
    It has not yet have any business model. It would be also interesting how Retty makes money and when it starts. 

Oct 9, 2012

[Tech In Asia] Gesture Recognition Music App piaScore Raises US$138,000

We received news that PiaScore, Japan’s gesture recognition music app, has raised an angel round of US$138,000. 
The round is led by Takeshi Natsuno, Gen Miyazawa, and Hiroyuki Koike who is also the CEO and founder of plusadd, Inc, the company behind piaScore. 
PiaScore is an iPad application which allows musicians to view digital sheet music on the iPad and turn pages with either a hand wave or head nod.

Tech In Asia 10/7/2012 [en]

  • Page turning mechanism is the most unique feature of PiaScore, but it is also useful to allow players to write down notes in the score. 

Startup Community Site, creww Raises 30.1M Yen / Cnet Japan

creww announced allocation of new shares of 30.1 million yen to Incubate Fund. With the fundraise, it plans to improve the service, activate the community more, and strengthen the team by hiring.

creww is a community site supporting activities of people who create innovative idea or services such as entrepreneurs. Users can place information regarding their idea or services to find investors, advisers, programmers and other necessary persons from supporters who emphasize with the vision. It was launched on this July and currently over 2500 people and 200 projects are registered.

Cnet Japan 10/5/2012 [jp]

  • It is a Japanese version of AngelList. It seems the launch has been quite successful to acquire a large number of users and startups. It would be able to monetize by charging fee for recruiting, but also a big challenge to realize scalability. It is interesting to see how it will make it grow.

Oct 3, 2012

Food Service Focused Recruiting Site, Cookbiz Raises 30M Yen From Jafco / Venture Now

Cookbiz plans to use the capital in web marketing as well as development of web site for smartphone and strengthening expansion into Kanto area.

Cookbiz was founded in December, 2007 to provide outplacement and recruiting service centered around Cookbiz, food industry focused recruiting service.

Recruiting sites are not a new service, but it is still immature in food industry. ...

Cookbiz develops the niche market and grows rapidly. It has only seven staffs now but acquires about 300 new customers in the fourth fiscal year to reach 100 million yen of revenue.

Its business model is success fee based matching fee to charge 16 to 20% of annual salary. ...

Venture Now 9/26/2012 [jp]

  • Food industry is a quite large market and basically stable. Also, generally speaking, it has not yet fully utilized IT as in most of other industries. So, it must be a good strategy to focus on the industry if the company has expertise in it.

Recruiting Site, Galaxy Agency Raises 65M Yen From Jafco / Venture Now

Success fee basis recruiting service operator, Galaxy Agency raises 65 million yen for Convertible Notes from JAFCO.

It plans to use the fund mainly for user acquisition and business expansion of Rebaito, success fee basis recruiting site, and strengthening of administrative office.

Galaxy Agency was established on February 2009. It is based in Osaka operating Agurework, locally-based recruiting site in Osaka, Hyogo, and Tokyo. ...

Rebaito, which was launched in this April, introduces original affiliate system utilizing social media in addition to success fee based model. Users will get 5 thousands yen for referral fee by sharing its dedicated URL on Facebook, Twitter, or mixi and if someone got the job through the URL . ...

Venture Now 10/1/2012 [jp]

  • Several social recruiting services have emerged recently such as Wantedly or garbs, which looks trying to use social media for securing credibility of applicants. While, Rebaito focuses on temporally jobs, in which social media may work for spreading information like flash marketing services do. Considering sociability of the service, Rebaito would work better than others.

JX Press Fundraises From Mitsubishi UFJ Capital / JX Press Press Release

JX Press conducted allocation of new shares to Mitsubishi UFJ Capital aming to expand its service, "vingow", an information gathering engine automatically collecting news and blog article that you like.

In addition, before the finance, it allocated shares to AMG.

JX Press Press Release 10/1/2012 [jp]

  • The amount is not disclosed. JX Press provides social media marketing service and marketing promotion service for business customers as well. vingow is their new service targeting consumer market, which is currently running for closed beta version. 

Oct 1, 2012

Glasses Online Shop, Mr. Taddy Raises 215M Yen / Cnet Japan

Online shopping site of glasses, Oh My Glasses operator, Mr. Taddy announced allocation of new shares of 215 million yen to Nissay Capital and SMBC Venture Capital.

Mr. Taddy plans to provide fitting service after purchase cooperating with physical retailers and to build a contact center for customer support with telephone and email. To improve the service before and after purchase, it provides the service at 90 shops of Megane Drug and Marui in the Tokyo metropolitan area. ...

Cnet Japan 9/28/2012 [jp]

  • Mr. Taddy was founded on July 2011 and launched the service in January 2012 officially. Selling glasses on Internet sounds tough, but it would be  very good alternative for people who are not satisfied with limited number of products on shelf of physical shops.

Nexon Acquires gloops To Strengthen Mobile Games For 36.5B Yen / Cnet Japan

Nexon announced that it decided on its board meeting to acquire 100% of shares of gloops.

With the acquisition, Nexon said it is seriously entering into mobile game market which is considered to grow continuously in the future. In addition, gloops can take advantage of user base, game operating capability, and partner network of Nexon group to expand its business globally. ...

Cnet Japan 10/1/2012 [jp]

  • gloops is one of the most successful startups in mobile social game developers mainly focusing on sports games and card battle games targeting male users. The company recently announced partnership with DeNA to go global.

Sep 26, 2012

Sonix Raises 100M Yen From Nissay Capital / Venture Now

Sonix fundraised from Dentsu Digital Holdings in August as well. With the deal, its financing round is ended. Sonic mainly uses the money for launching offices abroad, global marketing and hiring to begin a full-scale global expansion. ...

Sonix focuses on providing Scirocco Cloud, a UI testing platform for Android applications, which allows users to remote control Android devices through web browser.

Along with rapid penetration of smartphone, new models of Android are appearing continuously, but UI test by devices is mandatory for developing new applications due to fragmentation of OS version, resolution, and performance. Scirocco Cloud automates the process. ...

Venture Now 9/25/2012 [jp]

  • Solutions targeting for application developers is one of the prominent trends in recent startups. There are several startups such as SHIFT providing test marketing platform for pre-launch applications. Another example would MUGENUP which recently fundraised provide crowd sourcing focused on design for social games developers.

Sep 24, 2012

ShareWiz Raises Seed Money From MOVIDA / Venture Now

ShareWiz revealed fundraise of 5 million yen from MOVIDA JAPAN.

ShareWiz was founded on February 2nd, 2012. Mr. Tsujikawa applied for Seed Acceleration Program of MOVIDA JAPAN in last October and then founded the company.

ShareWiz is a free learning site of contents within 5 to 30 minutes. Similar services include Udemy in US, but the largest selling point of ShareWiz is its interface which visualizes learned contents as knowledge map. It makes easier to see value of what users learned and to understand what they want to learn. ...

Contents are easy to make as if writing blog posts for teachers. It is also possible for a teacher to bring their students to own seminar or to use as a promotion of own books. ...

Venture Now 9/24/2012 [jp]

  • Currently, major category of contents are English, programming, and accounting. There are many e-learning services, but few startups are successful. It is interesting to see if the unique visualization map could bring success to the startup. 
  • Raises Seed Money From Samurai Fund Aiming IPO In 5 Years / Venture Now conducted allocation of new shares of 4.5 million yen to Samurai Incubate. ... was founded on July, 2012. Its current main service is Return Tag, which allows users to attach a tag with a phone number available for 24 hours a day on goods they do not want to lose, in order to make easier to find the goods when lost. It aims to meet needs of corporations to deal with the risk of personal information leaks and so on when goods belonging to corporations are lost. ...

The startup plans to provide total solution for lost items such as managing lost items on cloud using the tags with ID. ...

In addition, it operates which is for consumers to share lost and found information. ...

Venture Now 9/20/2012 [jp]

  • Samurai Incubate has invested in a lot of startups at seed stage operating Internet services. may be unique among them because it is not pure Internet service and targeting business market.

MUGENUP Raises 100M Yen From Nissay Capital / Venture Now

MUGENUP was founded on June, 2011. It fundraised from Incubate Fund on the last December. It is currently growing rapidly with Crowd Creative System, a platform to crowdsource design tasks such as card illustration for social games, which was launched in this February. ...

Venture Now 9/21/2012 [jp]

  • Crowd sourcing is one of hottest areas this year for startups. Several other startups doing quite well such as Crowdworks and Lancers have wider range of tasks to handle, but MUGENUP is currently focusing on very narrow area, design for card illustration of social games. It seems working very effectively and efficiently now because the card games are the most growing category in the successful mobile social games. The challenge for the startup would be how it can enhance the range of tasks.

Sep 21, 2012

[Tech In Asia] GREE Acquires Another US-based Mobile Games Developer

Japanese social gaming giant GREE has announced today that it has acquired San Francisco-based mobile game company App Ant. 
App Ant is the game developer behind Dino Life, which GREE launched back in May as the first Android title for its North American studio. The metrics for that game so far appear less than stellar. ...
Tech In Asia 9/18/2012 [en]

  • GREE seems to be doing trial and error to get into US market. It may think that it would be a shortcut to acquire local developers than localizing its original successful games in Japan. 

SNS Connecting People By Goods, Sumally Raises 150M Yen From Lead Capital And Opt / Venture Now

Sumally was founded in April, 2010. It raised 80 million yen for an angel round in spring of the last year. ...

Sumally is a social networking service allowing people to share what they have or what they want. The service was launched on September last year. Current registered users are around 70,000. A number of post of "have" and "want" reaches 8 million.

It has users from overseas including US and Europe which shares 15%. ...

It plans to add marketplace feature to let users not only communicate but also sell/buy. ...

Venture Now 9/18/2012 [jp]

  • It looks like Pinterest but focusing on goods. It has been said that Pinterest-like photo sharing service has high affinity with e-commerce, but any service has not been successful yet. It would be interesting if Sumally will be the first player to succeed in this field.

Sep 14, 2012

Photo Book Style EC Mall Operater, 1K Raises 6M Yen From Samurai And Skylight / Venture Now

1K was founded on December 15th, 2010. Two founders got the top prize at Kigyo Challenge 2010, a business plan contest organized by Skylight Consulting. With the award, they established the company.

The company's service, MONOBITO is a E-commerce mall targeting people who are strongly sensitive to fashion, especially from late 20's to 40's male and female working at fashion related industry and particular about clothing, food and housing. ...

Currently 30 shops, 10 models, and 7 photographers are operating their shops on the mall.

Venture Now 9/12/2012 [jp]

  • MONOBITO has Pinterest-like interface, which is becoming a standard for fashion related site. Fashion commerce is considered to be a hot category with various approaches including used goods, subscription-based, or import goods. It sounds too niche, but it could attract more people who are interested in fashion by saying that the service focuses on only people working at fashion industry.

Sep 11, 2012

istyle Establishes Local Corporation In Singapore Aiming South East Asia / Venture Now

cosmetics community site, @cosme operator, istyle announced establishment of 100% subsidiary in Singapore to make it operate as a headquarter for South East Asia.

The company plans to set up a local corporation in Indonesia as well for the first business development in South Ease Asia to provide digital marketing service. ...

Venture Now 9/11/2012 [jp]

  • It is not clear but it does not seem to expand @cosme service in South East Asia. Since few Japanese B2C Internet service has been successful in South East Asia, it will be interesting to see how istyle approach the market.

Yahoo Japan Acquires DECOPIC Developer, Community Factroy For 1B Yen / TechCrunch Japan

Community Factory is a startup catching attention by DECOPIC's big hit. Yahoo Japan acquired the startup with 1 billion yen according to informed sources. It is considered that Yahoo aims to get young female users of smartphone in its hand.

Community Factory was founded in 2006 and started to provide social application for mixi when it became open in 2009. ...

Community Factory is known to be the first startup to receive investment from mixi's operating "mixi fund". ...

TechCrunch Japan 9/11/2012 [jp]

  • Following the announcement of establishment of new venture fund a few days ago, Yahoo Japan again surprises the Internet industry. It is a very good thing for the ecosystem because there have been too few opportunities for exits by acquisition in Japan. Yahoo Japan's recent radical move will definitely give positive stimulus to people in the industry including entrepreneurs as well as venture capitals and seed accelerators.

Sep 10, 2012

Crowd Sourcing Moves To Consolidation; Lancers Acquires MILLION DESIGNS / Venture Now

Crowd sourcing service operator, Lancers revealed that it acquires and merges MILLION DESIGNS, design contest-based crowd sourcing service run by Eureka. The acquisition amount is not disclosed. ...

Lancers was established in April 2008 and launched "Lancers", a crowd sourcing service in December of the year. Current number of users is 88,000 with 5,500 job offers per month. ...

Venture Now 9/10/2012 [en]

  • Crowd sourcing service is increasing particularly for design and programming. Other services include Crowdworks, which allows companies to find engineers and creators, and MUGENUP which focuses on illustration of games. Lancers have more various types of sourcing including web development, programming, and design as well as writing, simple tasks like text input, and research. It may be too early to say that the industry goes to consolidation, or several vertical niche will survive.

Yahoo Japan Establishes Venture Fund / Nikkei

Yahoo enters into venture capital business. Through the VC subsidiary launched recently, it invests in startups mainly of smartphone-related business, Internet advertising, and cloud computing. ...

The VC subsidiary, YJ Capital operates 1 billion yen of fund which is contributed by Yahoo entirely. ...

Nikkei 9/9/2012 [jp]

  • Since Yahoo Japan refreshed the management team in this April, it has taken many important actions including partnership with CCC, DVD rental store chain, Tabelog, restaurant review, and CookPad, recipe site much more rapidly than before with a slogan, "Bakusoku", or detonating velocity. The amount is not so large, but it is interesting to see what kind of startups it will invest.

Sep 6, 2012

With 6.3M "Like", Tokyo Otaku Mode Fundraises From Digital Garage, 500 Startups, And Others / TechCrunch Japan

Tokyo Otaku Mode is known as a startup promoting Japanese otaku culture to the world, but it has only existed on Facebook Page boasting over 6.3 million "Like". ...
It is still active mostly on Facebook Page, but its original web site was launched for beta.

The startup, Tokyo Otaku Mode announced fundraising from Digital Garage's investing arm, DG Incubation as well as GaiaX Global Marketing & Ventures, angel investors including William Lohse, Christine Herro, and 500 Startups, which invested before as well. ...

The investment is done with convertible note and the amount is not disclosed.

TechCrunch Japan 9/6/2012 [jp]

  • On its Facebook Page, Tokyo Otaku Mode posts photos and illustrations related to Japanese anime and manga. It is interesting to see how they monetize the popularity on Facebook in the world.

NTT IP Invests In Digital Signage Startup Newphoria / ITpro

NTT group's venture investment arm, NTT Investment Partners announced that it invests in Newphoria, providing contents delivery system for digital signage and mobile contents by acquiring new shares. The amount and investment ratio are not disclosed.

Newphoria develops web technology with HTML5 and services linking smartphone, digital signage, and television. ...

ITpro 9/5/2012 [jp]

  • Digital Signage seems one of the focused area for NTT IP. It invests in PDC, Panasonic's subsidiary providing total solution for digital signage from hardware to software to contents. Newphoria focuses on software and services such as system development and consulting.

Transfer Guide Service, Jorudan Acquires Gourmet PIA For 330M Yen / Venture Now

Jorudan, a company operating path search for public transportation, revealed to acquire all share of Gourmet PIA Network running Gourmet PIA, restaurant search service.

Gourmet PIA was founded in 1999. In addition to Gourmet PIA which introduces around 25,000 restaurants, it has tabels, recipe site by food professionals. ...

Venture Now 9/5/2012 [jp]

  • Jorudan went IPO on MOTHERS market in March, 2011. It already has a restaurant search service partnering with Gurunavi, the largest gourmet service in Japan. It may terminate the partnership to replace with it Gourmet PIA.

Sep 4, 2012

Hapyrus Raises 50M Yen From Investors In US And Japan / Cnet Japan

Hapyrus announced fundraising about 680 thousands US dollars from 500 Startups and others.

Investors include Archetype, CyberAgent Ventures, and individual investors such as Shogo Kawada (co-founder of DeNA), Kiyoshi Nishikawa (CEO of NetAge), Gen Miyazawa (Yahoo Japan).

Hapyrus is a technology startup providing browser-based analysis platform for large scale distributed data on cloud. With this capital, it plans to accelerate development of the current service, Hapyrus, as well as to invest in a new service development.

Cnet Japan 9/3/2012 [jp]

  • Big Data is becoming one of the hot topics in Internet industry, however there seems few startups in Japan providing Big Data related service. The founder team is Japanese, but they established Hapyrus in the US. It may be faster to launch the service in the US than in Japan. 

Sep 3, 2012

Rakuten Enters Into Group Coupon Deals Service By Acquiring Shareee / Internet Watch

Rakuten announced to acquire 70% of shares of Shareee. From now on, Rakuten operates the service jointly with an existing share holder, Hikari Tsushin.

Shareee offers over 1600 coupons monthly including restaurants, hotels, and relaxation facilities. According to Coupon JP, a search site for group coupon deals, the sales amount is 190.8 million yen, which is ranked third following Ponpare's 1.12 billion yen and Groupon's 1.07 billion yen.  ...

Internet Watch 9/3/2012 [jp]

  • Many group coupon services were launched in 2010, but it seems the two players dominate the market now. However, Rakuten has huge customer base for online shopping, which would make the competition more interesting.

Geniee, SSP Operator, Raises 100M Yen From Gree Ventures / Venture Now

Geniie raises 100 million yen for allocation of new shares for hiring, system development, and overseas expansion in Asia and North America.

Geniee is an ad technology company founded in April, 2010 by Mr. Kudo (CEO) and other members who worked on Recruit's ad network. It raised 72.6 million yen from Global Brain in the last September.

It operates Supply Side Platform called Geniee SSP which maximizes revenue for Internet media. The service was launched as trial operation in April, 2010 and currently over 1000 media are using to display around 10 billion ad impressions per month. ...

Venture Now 9/3/2012 [jp]

  • There are several SSP in Japan, but mostly these services are operated by a subsidiary of relatively large Internet companies like CyberAgent or Voyage Group. Kauli is another startup running SSP, which D2 Communications owns 33.4% share. Ad tech startups have been acquired by big players such as Nobot by Mediba(KDDI) or Atlantis by Gree. It is interesting to see what Gree aims with the investment.

Aug 30, 2012

Nissay Capital Invests 80M Yen In Nagisa, Messenger App Balloon Developer / Cnet Japan

Nissei Capital announced investment of 80 million yen in Nagisa.

Nagisa develops smartphone applications such as a communication app, Balloon as well as runs advertising agency. Balloon plans to get full renewal in design and features.

Cnet Japan 8/30/2012 [jp]

  • Balloon allows users to call for free, have group chat, share photos with their friends. Since LINE dominates the message app category in Japan, it seems not easy to survive. Also, different from other message apps like LINE, Kakao Talk, or Lounge, Balloon does not add friends from users' address book, which makes harder for users who downloaded the app to start actually using. It is interesting to see how Nagisa will improve Balloon with the capital to compete in the very difficult category. 

Aug 23, 2012

Food Delivery Site Gochikuru Operator, Star Festival Raises 250M Yen from Globis And Gree Ventures / Cnet Japan

Star Festival was founded in July 2009. The company runs Gochikuru, a search site for lunch box and catering. It has operated food delivery sites respectively and integrated them into the mall, Gochikuru launched in July 2012. There are several competitors in a food delivery service such as Rakuten Delivery, the CEO of the company actually started up when he was at Rakuten, and Demaekan. ...

Cnet Japan 8/23/2012 [jp]

  • Gochikuru differentiate from competitors by adding many popular restaurants which usually do not do delivery service.
  • Gree Ventures is a VC fund of Gree investing in Internet related business in Japan and Asia. It does not only invest in startups which has direct synergy with Gree's current business.

Aug 20, 2012

Social Classified, Zawatt Fundraises / Zawatt Press Release

The social classified service, WishScope operator conducted allocation of new shares to SMBC Venture Capital and Mizuho Capital.

Zawatt Press Release 8/16/2012 [jp]

  • WishScope matches users who have wishes such as want, help, buy, or look for something and users who can meet the wishes. The service is increasing users after launching the smartphone app.

Authense Group Raises Capital From Digital Garage / Nikkei

Authense Group, a free legal consultation service by lawyers operator, conducted allocation of new shares to Digital Garage Group. The amount is about 100 million yen to share nearly 10%.

Digital Garage supports acquiring advertisers for the web site of Authense aiming to increase commission as well as cooperates in system development., (meaning in English) the legal consultation service lets users to consult with lawyers for free by registration. Monthly users are 3 million. ...

Nikkei 8/20/2012 [jp]

  • provides other features such as search for lawyers, quotes and comparison and paid consultation service.

Aug 14, 2012

CloudStudy Raises 33M Yen / Venture Now

CloudStudy which operates social network for study, Studyplus, announced capital and business partnership with Amana Holdings to raise 30 million yen. Amana Holdings operates several businesses such as stock photo sales. In addition, it fundraises from individual investors. A total amount raised is 33 million yen. ...

Also, the company updates iPhone app of Studyplus. With the update, users can use most of all functions of web version.

CloudStudy was founded in May, 2010. It launched Studylog, progress management tool for learning based on knowledge of behavior analysis. From March, 2012, it starts social network for Studylog users, Studytnote. The both service was integrated as Studtyplus from July. ...

Venture Now 8/9/2012 [jp]

  • It is not so easy to presume how the social network for learning and the stock photo business collaborate each other. In other words, it will be interesting to see how the partnership make synergy in the future.

Event Management Service, everevo Operator, Netsket Raises Capital / Cnet Japan

Netsket announced allocation of new shares to Incubate Fund. The amount is not disclosed, but considered to be several tens of million yen.

Netsket operates everevo which provides event organizers with functions such as promotion and billing. Until this July, 1500 events have been registered and over 10,000 users used. ...

Cnet Japan 7/31/2012 [jp]

  • Several event ticket sales services operated by startups appeared in 2011, but it looks like everevo and PeaTix, which also raised capital this month, are taking a lead. Their competition including Recruit's ATND seems continuing for a while.

Aug 13, 2012

Locondo Raises Capital From Mizuho Capital and Neostella Capital / MSN Sankei News

Shoes and bag shopping site, Locondo allocates news shares to Mizuho Capital and Neostella Capital.

Locondo officially launched the service in February 2011. It offers free shipping and refund within 99 days. ...

MSN Sankei News 8/10/2012 [jp]

  • Locondo was founded in 2010 backed by Rocket Internet, German incubator. The annual revenue ending February 2012 was 860 million yen and the loss was 1.4 billion yen. Since the e-commerce business seems to require upfront investment, it may have other finance rounds.

NTT IP Invests 120M Yen In Agile Media Network / japan,

NTT Investment Partners announced to invest in blog network, Agile Media Network (AMN).

AMN possesses marketing know-how using social media. NTT IP sees growth potential of the company's social CRM service. 8/8/2012 [jp]

  • AMN provides professional services for social media marketing. It is interesting to see for what the company intends to use the money and what NTT IP expects with the investment.

Social Gift Service, giftee Fundraises From Digital Garage And Sunbridge Global Ventures / TechCrunch Japan

giftee is an online service to allow users to send small gift to friends online to express thank you or congratulations. It is one of the team from the first batch of Open Network Lab as well as KDDI's Mugen Labo. ...

giftee raised 10 million yen from KDDI at the end of the last year. It raised money from DG Incubation, a subsidiary of Digital Garage and Sunbridge Global Ventures by allocation of new shares and convertible notes. ...

It also revealed partnership with Family Mart, a national convenience store chain, which enables users to send coupon available at any Family Mart stores throughout the country. ...

TechCrunch Japan 8/1/2012 [jp]

  • giftee does not look growing so rapidly, but it has been moving forward step by step. The partnership with Family Mart may become a key factor to accelerate the growth rate.

Home and Timeline Function Comes On LINE For Android / TechCrunch Japan

NHN Japan announced that home and timeline functions become available on LINE for Android. It is launched before the iPhone app. With the addition, LINE becomes social network.

Home allows users to post status of yourself for which your friends can add mini-stamp of its popular character, Moon, to express feelings for the post. Timeline lets you to view your friends' posts. ...

TechCrunch Japan 8/6/2012 [jp]

  • LINE seems trying to compete with Facebook more and more seriously. It might be a big gamble for LINE because one of reasons that LINE has became so popular may be its simpleness. Adding social network functions could loose the simpleness. Actually LINE seems more popular in average users who do not often use or even not have a computer at home. While, Facebook is still more popular among early adopters in Japan. 

[Tech In Asia] GREE Teams Up with France-based Mobile Affiliate Network

Japanese mobile gaming company GREE, or more specifically, its subsidiary GREE Advertising, today is announcing a partnership with French mobile affiliate network MobPartner. 
For developers on the GREE Platform, this will bring new promotion tools and user acquisition services courtesy of MobPartner and its network of mobile affiliates. ...
Tech In Asia 8/2/2012 [en]

  • The partnership has benefit in two ways for Gree. As in the article, developers can access users overseas more easily, which will increase revenue for Gree from in-game sales of virtual items eventually. Also, more directly, Gree Advertising gets commission fee from the advertising deals.    

Sonix, Test Automation For Android Raise Capital Aiming Global Expansion / Cnet Japan

Sonix announced allocation of new shares to Dentsu Digital Holdings. It is the first fundraising for the company. The amount is not disclosed, but said to be several tens of million yen. With the capital, it plans to strengthen development and marketing to accelerate global expansion.

Sonix is well known in Android development community to provide open source software and library for Android. For the finance, UI test automation service for Android, Scirocco Cloud seems to be highly valued.

Scirocco Cloud has two advantages. One is to enable automatic UI testing using real devices, and the second is that real devices are on cloud. ...

Cnet Japan 8/2/2012 [jp]

  • Android devices are getting fragmented along with frequent updates and increasing devices. The solution would be very helpful for small and medium developers who cannot prepare large number of devices for testing. It is interesting that corporate venture fund of advertising agency, Dentsu invests in the company. What kind of synergy does Dentsu expect with the startup?

[Tech in Asia] Tokyo-based Messaging App Dev Quan Fundraises from and East Ventures

Quan Inc., a Tokyo-based startup known for having introduced the smartphone messaging app Lounge, announced today it had allocated new shares to Japan’s e-commerce giant and Singapore-/Tokyo-based investor East Ventures. 
With this fundraising, the startup intends to enhance features of the Lounge app and intensify further development of Sticker Maker, an iOS app allowing users to send their friends animated stickers via MMS. The Sticker Maker app reached top spot in the SNS category on the iTunes app store in Thailand with more than 100,000 active users. The Lounge app also got lots of attention from Thai consumers during the last several months as well. ...
Tech In Asia 8/2/2012 [en]

  • Group messaging application is one of the most competing and popular category recently in smartphone apps. LINE is definitely the leader in Japan. The company may focus on Sticker Maker rather than Lounge to avoid direct competition with LINE.

motionBEAT Invests In Small Bridge, Online Learning Service / Cnet Japan

motionBeat announced investment of 40 million yen in Small Bridge through its venture fund, ngi Venture Community Fund II.

Small Bridge was founded in 2010 to provide online learning service, Cafetalk, which lets users to have online lessons from teachers around the world using Skype. It has 2200 lessons including English conversation, discussion about US stock market, and cooking lesson in Italy. Over 10,000 students have registered the service. In addition, the company operates Brunch Style, media that teachers of Cafe Talk provides information.  ...

Cnet Japan 7/31/2012 [jp]

  • There are many English lesson services using Skype. Cafetalk seems to differentiate by providing wider variety of lessons. 

KDDI Invests 500M Yen In TOLOT, Photo Book Service / ITpro

KDDI announced investments through its fund, KDDI Open Innovation Fund and partnerships with startups through au Smart Pass service.

The new investment goes to TOLOT which provides photo book creation service using smartphone application. The amount is 500 million yen.

TOLOT sells photo book of 64 pages in A6 size for 500 yen. In addition to photo books, it prepares various templates such as drug note and disaster prevention note.

KDDI also announced partnership with JMTY, classified advertisement, Shimauma Print System, photo printing service, and 3rdKind, import of foreign games as well as TOLOT. ...

ITpro 7/31/2012 [jp]

  • KDDI is the most active telco in Japan for collaboration with startups. The recent activity includes the VC fund, an incubation program, and partnerships such as with LINE.

Jul 25, 2012

Aiming Raises 600M Yen From Jafco / Aiming Press Release

Aiming develops Lord of Knights, iOS application, Ken to Maho No Logres, a browser game as well as many applications for PC and smartphone jointly with partner companies.

With this fundraising, it aims to build development capability to compete for smartphone and PC game market in the world and business development network.

Aiming Press Release 7/24/2012 [jp]


  • Aiming was founded just a year ago and raised 1.2 billion yen in September 2011, just after 3 months of the establishment. The company has mainly developed RPG for PC. It is interesting to see whether it more focuses on more growing market, mobile, which would require different capability than RPG for PC. 

Photo Cloud Service guPix Operator, Ripplex Raises 800M Yen From INCJ And Others / TechCrunch Japan

Ripplex announced allocation of new shares to Innovation Network Corporation of Japan and Lead Capital Management to raise 800 million yen. Ripplex currently focuses on photo platform, guPix and it plans to use the money for development and marketing of guPix.

guPix is currently available on Windows and Android. The application enables to manage photos stored in digital camera, smartphone, PC, and memory card on cloud. It seems competing with flicker, Picasa, or iCloud, but actually it complements those cloud services.

To be more precise, guPix application reduces size of original photos and stores the smaller photos on guPix cloud. Since the photo data links with guPix application on Windows or Android, users can see where the original photos are stored. The reduced size is large enough to view on Android device or share on social networking services. It also links with Dropbox which allows to search photos on Dropbox. ...

TechCrunch Japan 7/25/2012 [jp]

  • The amount is relatively large. Recently such scale of investment seems gradually increasing. Another photo cloud service, Bitcellar raised 420 million yen in this April. 

Jul 24, 2012

Venture Investment In 2011 Surpasses 100B Yen For The First Time In Three Years / Nikkei

Nikkei conducted survey for 20 major VCs in Japan. The total amount is 101.3 billion yen increasing 16% from the last year. 11 firms answered their plan in 2012, which shows 6% increase becoming nearly double of the amount in 2009 when it drastically decreased due to financial crisis. ...

IT related industry serves as an engine of the growth. In 2011, the amount became 29.1 billion yen, an increase of 30% from the previous year. Along with penetration of smartphone and tablet computer and user growth of social networking services, investment in related services such as ebooks and games development is increasing. IT shares 29% among the total amount, 4 points going up. ...

Nikkei 7/24/2012

Jul 17, 2012 Invests in POS system developer, Ubiregi / Nikkei invests in Ubiregi. Tablet computer based POS system of Ubiregi will be implemented on the cloud of Salesforce to jointly provide new services such as customer analysis.

It is the ninth startups for Salesforce to invest in Japan. It does not disclose the amount.

Nikkei 7/16/2012 [jp]

  • Ubiregi lets small shops and restaurants to use POS system to manage sales and customers with only iPad. It has raised around 20 million yen from Voyage Ventures and Kronos Fund.

Jul 13, 2012

[Tech In Asia] LINE and Telkomsel Add Special Stickers for Indonesian Users

Line, Naver Japan’s popular mobile messenger app, has worked together with Telkomsel to make a special, localized sticker pack. While Line has been popular all over Asia ever since it launched over a year ago, this making local partnerships like this one should mean increased attention in Indonesia among smartphone users. 
The free sticker pack is labeled as “Telkomsel Blob & MyAppsMall,” and contains cute emojis/emoticons you can use while chatting with your friends or family, just as with other sticker packs. But in this pack, Blob, the Telkomsel character, is being used as the main selling point. ...

Tech In Asia 7/13/2012 

  • NHN Japan announced a partnership with KDDI last week. It also plans to provide original stickers for KDDI. Messenger applications have been considered trouble for mobile operators, but it seems some telcos are trying to figure out the way to cooperate with OTTs.

Jul 12, 2012

CyberAgent Ventures Invest In Piece of Cake to Launch Contents Distribution Platform In Summer / Cnet Japan

Piece of Cake is founded on December, 2011. Femto Startup, a seed investment fund, has supported from the foundation.

Piece of Cake develops digital contents distribution platform, cakes, which is planned to be released in this summer.

cakes plans to distribute various types of contents with subscription base. Readers can enjoy contents freely with 150 yen per month. ...

Cnet Japan 7/11/2012 [jp]

  • Subscription-based free access service seems finally getting popular this year in Japan. Sony just launched Music Unlimited and KDDI also started subscription based services for application, Smart Pass, video, Video Pass, and music, Uta Pass targeting for its users. cakes seems to focus on ebooks, or contents for reading. It may be competing or collaborating with big players like Amazon or Rakuten, both launch ebook reader from this year in Japan.

Student Startup, Prosbee Raises Seed Money From Incubate Fund / Venture Now

Prosbee conducted allocation of new shares of 3 million yen to Incubate Fund. It plans to use the money for human resource.

Prosbee was founded in May 28 this year. It participated in Incubate Camp on March, an incubation program organized by Incubate Fund. ...

Prosbee develops Booklap, which is a service to allow users to share phrases of books. It aims to provide users with opportunities to meet new books from phrases. A web version of the service is to be released on July 18th and then a smartphone version to follow within August. ...

Venture Now 7/10/2012

  • Seed acceleration programs increase startups of students. An unique point of Incubate Camp is that even students have to gather the same amount of money, 3 million yen in this case, by themselves to receive investment, aiming to choose only serious entrepreneurs.