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. 
  • http://balloon.am/

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, Docomo.com. 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 Docomo.com, 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.
  • http://gu3.co.jp/

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.
  • http://pokelabo.co.jp/

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.
  • https://ssl.co-mm.com/pc/

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.
  • http://www.kakao.com/talk/ja

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.
  • http://uiscope.com/

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. 
  • http://retty.me/

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. 
  • http://piascore.com/

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.
  • http://creww.me/

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.
  • http://cookbiz.jp/

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.
  • http://www.rebaito.com/

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. 
  • http://jxpress.net/

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.
  • http://www.ohmyglasses.jp/

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.
  • http://gloops.com/