Jan 29, 2013

[Tech In Asia] Rakuten Opens Singapore Base, Eyes Southeast Asia Expansion

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten (JSD:4755) now has a regional headquarters situated at One George Road in Singapore. The new Singapore office is set to take charge of Rakuten’s Asia-Pacific operations including marketing and regional expansions. 
Aside from its native Japan, Rakuten has e-commerce operations in Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. However, its China joint-venture with Baidu didn’t turn out to be successful. 
Tech In Asia  1/28/2013 [en]

  • It is becoming more and more popular to have branch office in South Ease Asia for Japanese Internet companies including GREE, DeNA, CookPad, Net Price or iStyle. Singapore seems considered to be the most appropriate place to have regional headquarters due to several factors such as low tax rate, English speaking, physically easy to access to other SEA countries, or many convenient flights from Tokyo. However, it is just the beginning and it is expected that they will have successful achievement in SEA region in the future.

Jan 25, 2013

[e27] Fuji Startup Ventures established a JPY1.5B fund for integrating apps and technology into TV programs

Japan’s Fuji TV has setup a 1.5 billion yen fund to invest in startups that develop applications and services that have potential in being integrated into TV programming. Nikkei reports that the new venture capital fund (about US$17 million) aims to create business synergies between these startups and the many subsidiaries and businesses that Fuji TV runs, including radio stations, the recording business and mail-order shopping. 
e27 1/24/2013 [en]

  • Corporate VC activities are becoming more and more active recently. Internet and telecom companies have set up their own new venture fund in the last few years including GREE, Yahoo, KDDI, Klab, gumi, and Docomo will establish 10 billion yen of fund soon even though NTT group already operates another venture fund managed by NTT Investment Partners. It is expected that the trend will boost Japan's venture ecosystem. 

[e27] CyberAgent Ventures funds Taiwan beauty social networking platform Fashionguide

Straight after funding social food recipe sharing site iCook in Taiwan, Japan based CyberAgent Ventures now funds an undisclosed amount into beauty social networking platform Fashionguide. CyberAgent Ventures set up its office in Taiwan back in October 2011, and since then, funded dating website i-Part, restaurant review website iPeen, as well as social food recipe sharing site iCook. Fashionguide is now the fourth portfolio company of CyberAgent Ventures in Taiwan. 
Fashionguide allows users to post reviews of beauty and cosmetics products. While the website relies a lot on user generated content, it is currently the largest website in this particular niche. According to TheNextWeb, CyberAgent Ventures says that the funds will be used to launch and support a new range of women’s lifestyle services. Fashionguide also have plans to expand its reach through its own mobile app, which is already in the works. ...
e27 1/21/2013 [en]

  • CyberAgent Ventures is the most active Japanese investor in Asia. Its investing strategy seems quite simple that they invest in Asian startups providing the same or similar type of services as startups in Japan which have succeeded to go IPO in the past. In Taiwan, it looks like CGM services are their main target. In Japan, several CGM services went IPO in the last 10 years including Cookpad, recipe sharing, and iStyle, cosmetics community site. 
  • http://fashionguide.com.tw/

[e27] Japan’s NEC Corporation invests US$5M into Taiwan’s food review site iPeen

iPeen, a Taiwanese startup which aggregates reviews of restaurants, cafes and bars and offers coupons to members, has just received an investment round of US$5 million from Japan’s NEC Corporation. NEC Corporation is a Japanese multinational provider of information technology (IT) services and products which provides information technology and network solutions to business enterprises, communications services providers and to government agencies. 
According to Inside, iPeen currently has more than 200,000 business listings, and enjoys more than 100 million monthly pageviews. iPeen’s mobile app also registers more than 400,000 total downloads. ...
e27  1/24/2013 [en]

  • iPeen received investment from Japan's CyberAgent Ventures back in May 2011. Not only CyberAgent Ventures, but other Japanese VCs are also looking to Taiwanese startups recently such as Cubie, a messenger app which fundraised from NTT Investment Partners and others in October 2012. But, it is not usual for NEC to invest in startup even in Japan. So, it is a really interesting case to follow and see what is happening in the future from the collaboration.
  • http://www.ipeen.com.tw/

Jan 23, 2013

Social Network Platform, Revolver Raises 50M Yen / Cnet Japan

Revolver announced 50 million yen of fundraising from Suneight Investment by allocation of new shares. It plans to use the capital to develop digital contents selling and social commerce functions.

Revolver is an OEM service for entertainment industry managing artists or talents or fashion industry managing brands. It allows to run Pinterest-like photo sharing community with their own domain and enables to connect with other social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, or Ameblo. ...

Cnet Japan 1/21/2013 [jp]

  • There appears many social networking or photo sharing services recently, but it is not easy to monetize even though it succeeds to develop quite large user base. However, Revolver focuses on OEM to celebrities or brands, which would be much easier to make money by selling goods or even digital contents. Also, partnering with celebs is a robust strategy to gain traction for social networking service proven by Ameblo or Twitter.  
  • http://rvlvr.co/

Dentsu Digital Holdings Invest In EhonNavi / MarkeZine

Dentsu Digital Holdings invests in EhonNavi through its operating Dentsu Digital Fund.

Ehon Navi is largest scale of picture books site in Japan with original features such as evaluation ranking, review, and preview of a whole book which is available only once. In addition to purchasing picture books in the site, it provides subscription based delivery service, Ehon Club. It also plans to launch premium user service to allow them to use Ehon Navi more conveniently.

MarkeZine 1/22/2013 [jp]

  • In addition to paper books, it also sells digital books for tablet or smartphone. But it looks still small portion of the site. There will be growth opportunity for ebooks. 
  • http://www.ehonnavi.net/

Jan 18, 2013

Yahoo Japan Acquires Katy, Mynet's Mobile CRM Business For 350M Yen / Venture Now

Yahoo Japan announced that it acquires a part of mobile CRM business of Mynet with 350 million yen to strengthen O2O business.

The CRM business is a mobile CRM business, Katy, targeting shops and restaurants, which was launched in January 2007 by Mynet. As of December 31, 2012, around 35,000 shops use the service. The revenue is 216 million yen with 86 million yen of operating profit. The service will be managed by Yahoo Japan from March 1st. ...

Venture Now 1/17/2013 [jp]

  • Yahoo Japan continues aggressive growth strategy in 2013. Many startups may expect Yahoo as their exit goal. Mynet has been focusing on mobile social game since the last year and with the sold out of CRM business, it can 100% concentrate on the gaming business.
  • http://mynet.co.jp/

[Tech In Asia] KDDI Funds Japanese App Publisher 3rdKind, Solidifies Partnership

KDDI Corporation (TYO:9433) has just announced that it will be solidifying its partnership with Japanese app publisher 3rdKind by way of funding though its Open Innovation Fund. The funding amount was not disclosed. 
The intent is to help 3rdKind further grow and “expand its Asian publishing business” with the goal of being the leading publisher in the region. ...
Tech In Asia 1/17/2013 [en]

  • 3rdKind localizes foreign games, mainly from US and Europe, to publish in Japan. The company will expand the publishing service to Asia. 

Online Shop Builder, BASE Accelerates Business Fundraising 23M Yen From East Ventures And Others / Cnet Japan

BASE, launched by a project "liverty" led by Kazuma Ieiri, was incorporated on December 18, 2012. The company announced that it raises fund of around 23 million yen from partyfactory, East Ventures, and individual investors.

BASE provides online shop creating service, BASE. It allows to build online shop easily by just member registration, uploading photos of goods, and setting price and inventory. Users can design a web site with over 800 kinds of materials and templates provided by BASE as well as original materials from users. ...

It was launched in November. As of end 2012, it has 10,000 shops and 3,000 transactions with amount of 15 million yen.

Cnet Japan 1/17/2013 [jp]

  • There are several similar services in Japan, one of which is Stores.jp launched in August, 2012. It reached 10,000 shops in early December. Currently BASE is free for any shops, while Stores.jp takes freemium model and provides marketing support and access log analysis for premium users. Also a number of items available on a shop is limited for free users. It seems both are getting good traction for the start, however large companies such as DeNA also runs similar service. Since it would not be easy to differentiate, the competition will be tougher for these startups in the future. It is interesting to see how BASE can take advantage of the capital to win in the competition.
  • https://thebase.in/

Jan 10, 2013

DeNA Enters Music Service By Acquiring Discodeer / ITmedia

DeNA plans to launch Groovy, music service for iOS/Android within FY2012 ending March 2013. It acquires music play applications, Discodeer from United to relaunch it as Groovy.

Discodeer displays lyrics of music playing on smartphone. It has around 900 thousands titles with lyrics including indies and Vocaloid. In addition, the app allows listeners to know other users listening the same music and to post music they are listening on to Twitter and Facebook. It has had 1.5 million downloads since its release in December 2011.

United partners with DeNA to operate affiliate media of Groovy.

ITmedia 1/10/2013 [jp]

  • DeNA actively launches new services than mobile games recently, one of which is comm, LINE's competitor. Discodeer allows users to listen to music already installed on their device. DeNA plans to distribute over 1 million music partnering with more than 20 record companies in addition.
  • United was incorporated as a company on Decemeber 2012 by merger of Spire and motionBeat. Discodeer was launched by Spire.

Jan 8, 2013

Geniee Partners With Yahoo! Asia Pacific To Allow Advertisers In APAC Place Ads In Japan / MarkeZine

Internet ad revenue maximization platform, Geniee SSP, provider Geniee partnered with Yahoo! Asia Pacific through its subsidiary. It provides ad inventory of premium publishers in Japan to Yahoo! Asia Pacific which allows advertisers in South East Asia placing ads on Yahoo! Asia Pacific to distribute campaign for Japan market.

Geniee established a subsidiary, Geniee International on October, 2012 to expand globally.

MarketZine 1/7/2013 [jp]

  • Along with growth of DSP/SSP and RTB in Japan, a competition in the domestic market may have been fiercer. It is still unclear how many South Ease Asian advertisers target Japan market, but it would be a good start for global expansion.
  • http://geniee.co.jp/

[e27] Mobcast acquires online game developer Enter Crews for US$7M

On 7th January, social gaming company Mobcast announced its acquisition of online gaming developer, Enter Crews for US$7 million. The acquisition is an all-stock deal that will take effect on 1st February. 
Enter Crews was founded in September 2009 and has offices in Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. B Dash Fund 1 Investment Limited Partnership is the primary shareholder of Enter Crews. The game developer has popular titles such as Sangokushi Masters and Browser Ginga Taisen. Their users grew to about 300,000 in Japan and 170,000 in South Korea in just six months. Enter Crews has over 50 employees with about 70 percent of them coming from foreign countries such as South Korea, China, Indonesia, Canada and the United Kingdoms. 
e27 1/8/2013 [en]

  • Mobcast went IPO on Tokyo Stock Exhcange Mothers market in June 2012. It aims to accelerate expansion to Asian countries with the acquisition.
  • http://www.entercrews.com/

Borders Raises 100M Yen From NVCC And DBJ Capital / japan.internet.com

Borders fundraised around 100 million yen from Nippon Venture Capital and DBJ Capital. Borders was founded in September 2006 to provide online market research system. In April, 2011, the company released a new version of online research support software, POST, Professional Online Survey Tool.

japan.internet.com 12/26/2012 [jp]

  • Borders has provided consultation and system development service for market research firm, advertising agencies. and other organizations doing market research. There are already several online survey services from big Internet companies like Rakuten or Yahoo, but it may have competitive advantage for professional use.
  • http://borders.jp/

[Tech In Asia] Japan’s Mixi Acquires Tokyo-based Barter/Curation Site Developer Kamado

Tokyo-based startup Kamado Inc., which is running several web services including auction site Livlis and a photo curation site Clipie, was today acquired by Mixi (TYO:2121), Japan’s largest social network. The acquisition details haven’t been disclosed. 
Kamado was launched in 2010 by Yuichi Kawasaki, the former vice president of Kyoto-based web juggernaut Hatena. ...
Tech In Asia 12/27/2012 [en]

  • mixi still have large number of users but it has been struggling with competition against Facebook and Twitter recently. It is not very clear at this moment, but the acquisition seems to aim hiring rather than synergy with Kamado's existing services.
  • http://kmdo.jp/