Apr 26, 2013

[Sd] Japanese online content marketplace raises $3 million from Jafco and Femto Growth Capital

Tokyo-based startup Piece of Cake, the company behind online article/content marketplace called Cakes, announced today that it has fundraised 300 million yen (or about $3 million) from Jafco and Femto Growth Capital Fund. The fund is being jointly managed by the investment arm of Japan’s Shinsei Bank and notable Japanese CPA Tetsuya Isozaki. 
Cakes is an online marketplace where content authors can sell their articles to an audience. In partnership with notable magazine or comic publishing companies, the startup gathers popular content authors including best-selling novelists, scientists, famous bloggers, businessmen, photographers, and musicians. ...
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Sd 4/24/2013 [en]

  • Users can read all of contents by paying only 150 yen, which is much cheaper than any magazines even though the service has more contents. It seems the service has a great opportunity if it keeps having such popular contents. If there is one concern for the service to mention, it would be that Piece of Cake seems to focus on web to distribute digital contents. Since more and more people use a smartphone or a tablet to read or view magazine type of contents recently, only web would become a disadvantage.
  • http://www.pieceofcake.co.jp/

Smartphone App Developing Service, Yappli Provider, Fastmedia Raises 30M Yen / Cnet Japan

Fastmedia announced 30 million yen of fundraising from Yahoo Japan's investing arm, YJ Capital.  Along with the announcement, the company officially launches Yappli, native application developing service for iOS which has been provided to a closed users.

Yappli is a service allowing users to build a smartphone app written in native codes and to apply for App Store by simple processes such as drag and drop, image upload, and text input on its dedicated CMS. ...

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Cnet Japan 4/23/2013 [jp]

  • Yappli has various functions including commerce, push alert, GPS search, and social sharing. Users pay a monthly fee starting from 19,800 yen per month. There would be a huge potential for the service because there are many companies who have a web site but no mobile app.
  • http://yapp.li/

Business Card Management Service, EIght Operator, Sansan Raises 500M Yen / Cnet Japan

Sansan announced fundraising of about 500 million yen from Nissay Capital and existing investor, GMO VenturePartners.

Sansan provides Link Knowledge, cloud based business card management service for enterprises, and free business card management app, Eight for individuals. With the capital, the company aims to make Eight business infrastructure with 10 million users. Current number of users of Eight is 200,000. ...

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Cnet Japan 4/23/2013 [jp]

  • Link Knowledge provides a dedicated scanner with which users scan business cards and the data automatically goes to Sansan's cloud and to be transformed into digital data with OCR and operator's edit. Eight allows users to scan a business card with their smartphone
  • http://www.sansan.com/

[Sd] Stealth m-commerce startup Origami raises $5M from KDDI and DAC

On Tuesday Tokyo-based startup Origami held a press briefing where they finally unveiled what they had been working on. The company has developed a mobile app (also called Origami) which allows you to follow updates from the accounts of your favorite brands or merchants. When you find something you like, you can also easily purchase using the app. It also has ‘like’ features for items, and you can check-in at both real and virtual retailers if you want to share your shopping experience with friends. 
The startup received funds from Japanese telco KDDI and digital ad agency Digital Advertising Consortium (DAC), and according to some news sources, it amounted to 500 million yen (about $5 million). ...
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Sd 4/24/2013 [en]

  • E-commerce leveraging social networking services and Smartphone and tablet penetration would be the biggest trend in the Internet industry of Japan this year. In particular, fashion seems to be its main area where not only B2C like Origami or Monoco, but also C2C like Fril and Pashaoku are getting popular.
  • http://origami.co/

[TechCrunch] Translation Platform Gengo Raises $12M Funding Round Led By Intel Capital

Gengo, an increasingly popular online translation service that uses a network of more than 7,500 pre-screened and rated translators to provide high-quality translations in 33 languages, announced that it has raised a $12 million funding round. The round was led by Intel Capital, with participation from Iris Capital, Infocomm, NTT-IP and Saudi Telecom Ventures, as well as returning investor Atomico. ...
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TechCrunch 4/22/2013 [en]

  • Gengo recently announced a partnership with YouTube. Other clients include Rakuten and Alibaba.com.
  • http://gengo.com/

Apr 18, 2013

[Sd] Tokyo-based web integrator IMJ teams up with Fenox Capital, plans to invest in SE Asia

Tokyo-based web/mobile solutions company IMJ (JASDAQ:4305) has announced a partnership with Fenox Capital, a Silicon Valley-based VC firm. The companies have established a fund worth about $4 million dedicated to investing in startups in the South East Asia region. In terms of the fund’s capital allocation, IMJ takes a 74.37% stake and Fenox makes up the rest. ...
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Sd 4/16/2013 [en]

  • The new company to manage the fund is IMJ FENOX PTE. LTD., which is located in Singpore. IMJ's existing venture investment arm, IMJ Venture Partners will be merged to the new company. Not only in South East Asia, but it invests in Japan and US according to the company's press release.  
  • http://www.imjfenox.com/en/

[Sd] Japan-based MetroWorks raises funds from Sunbridge Global Ventures

Tokyo-based startup MetroWorks, which provides a platform for crowdsourcing website design and production, received an unspecified amount of funds from Sunbridge Global Ventures, a startup VC fund run by ex-Oracle Japan CEO Allen Miner. 
The startup has developed a content management system called Atsumare CQ. It helps web administrators easily manage group development work among a large team of professionals, such as content producers, editors, contributors, photographers, translators, and proofreaders. ...
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Sd 4/15/2013 [en]

  • MetroWorks has other CMS products for classifieds, SNS, Ranking Engine and E-Commerce. 
  • http://metroworks.co.jp

Apr 11, 2013

STORYS.JP Operator Raises 30M Yen - Sharing Personality SNS Can't Show / Cnet Japan

ResuPress revealed fundraising of 30 million yen from Incubate Fund and ANRI. With the capital, it plans to improve the service and strengthen marketing activities.

ResuPress operates STORYS.JP which allows users to post their own experience as a story to share with others. Linking with Facebook, it makes possible to understand personality of your Facebook friends through the story, which you cannot get to know only from Facebook posts. The service is free and requires Facebook account. ...

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Cnet Japan 4/11/2013 [jp]

  • STORYS.JP looks like a new way of blogging focusing on users' experience. It successfully provides new format for individuals to express their idea, opinion, or anything. Considering a popularity of blogs and its format has not been changed for a long time, the service would have great potential.
  • http://storys.jp/

[Sd] Japanese online dating site Qrunch raises funds from Mitsubishi UFJ Capital

Tokyo-based startup Qrunch, the company behind online dating site MatchAlarm, announced today it has raised an unspecified amount of funds from Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. 
The dating site targets single people looking to marry, and helps you connect with a likely match who you aren’t connected with on Facebook. ...
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Sd 4/10/2013 [en]

  • There are many match making for dating services, but MatchAlarm tries to be unique by matching one another member of opposite gender every morning. That could make users accustomed to launch the app.
  • http://matchalarm.com/

GMO-PG Partner With fluxflex To Promote Payment Service, WebPay / Cnet Japan

GMO Payment Gateway announced capital and business partnership with fluxflex, US based but operated by Japanese team, to support its credit card payment service for web developers.

RESTful API, WebPay allows developers to integrate payment function easily in short time. Since the API does not depend on language or OS, developers can easily implement for even in-app purchase for iOS, Android, or Windows. ...

GMO-PG will provide credit card settlement function and infrastructure for member store aiming to have 200 stores use WebPay. ...

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Cnet Japan 4/11/2013 [jp]

  • Various types of commerce services which needs micro payment such as C2C marketplace, vertical commerce, ticket sales, or in-app purchase of mobile games are increasing recently. For these services, Paypal was almost the only means to consider before, but it has been too complicated in terms of its structure of price or types of API. If WebPay can differentiate on simplicity with PayPal, it would have great potential and GMO may be the best partner in Japan.
  • http://www.fluxflex.com/

Apr 10, 2013

[Sd] Japan’s Line Corporation gets into the e-book business with ‘Line Manga’

I wrote a few weeks back about how with 100 million users, Line is the Japanese Facebook. The popular mobile application is far more than just a chat app, it is now a platform that was built by adding Line Channel back in July of 2012, a place where users can enjoy games, fortune-telling, and even discount coupons. 
And today Line Corporation added yet another feature to its repertoire: Line Manga. Yes, the company is entering the mobile e-book business, both on iOS and Android. Major publishers such as Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Kodansha have already joined Line Manga with over 30,000 comics available, which can be bought using Line’s virtual currency Line Coin. ...
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Sd 4/10/2013 [en]

  • LINE is aggressively expanding features to become a general mobile platform generating more money. Currently games seem to be the most successful, so it is reasonable to add other digital contents like Manga. Maybe, the company could be preparing to add music and video for the next move.

Apr 5, 2013

Digital Garage, Jointly With NTT Data, Invests In iRidge / Digital Garage press release

iRidge provides popinfo, a solution to push information for sales promotion to smartphone users. The information is to be displayed as popup on a screen of a smartphone, which makes it more recognized than email or others. Since it allows to push information linked with location of users gained by GPS or Wi-Fi, it makes possible to push sale information for only users in a certain radius from a shop. ...

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Digital Garage press release 4/4/2013 [jp]

  • O2O has been one of the hottest keywords in IT industry for a while, but it looks still in trial phase for most of offline-side shops or services. Pushing information based on location is also not a very new concept, but since a penetration rate of smartphone is expected to become greater than feature phones within this year or next, 2013 would become a starting year for serious commercial use for O2O solutions. 
  • http://iridge.jp/

Apr 4, 2013

[Sd] New Docomo startup fund invests in two up-and-coming Japanese companies

As we reported back in February, NTT Docomo launched a new startup fund worth 10 billion yen (about $100 million), along with an incubation program with 500 Startups and Japan’s B Dash Ventures. Today, the telco-backed investment arm unveiled the first selection of companies for the fund: tech news media company Iid and CRM solution developer Repica. ...
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Sd 4/3/2013 [en]

  • Repica raised 113.4 million yen and the amount for Iid is not disclosed. Both companies have quite long history and seem to have steady business model. It is interesting to see how these companies leverage the money and the relationship with Docomo or NTT Group.  
  • http://www.iid.co.jp/
  • http://www.repica.jp/

Apr 2, 2013

[TechCrunch] Midokura Scores $17.3M Series A To Ramp Up Its Network Virtualization Offering On A Global Scale

Japan’s Midokura, a startup with offices in San Francisco, Tokyo, Lausanne and Barcelona, today announced a $17.3 million Series A funding round, led by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, along with NTT Group’s DOCOMO Innovations, Inc., and Innovative Venture Fund Investment, the investment arm of NEC Group. The funding will be used to hire and grow the team in preparation for future deployment and expansion of Midokura’s MidoNet network virtualization services. ...
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TechCrunch 4/2/2013 [en]

  • Midokura provides SDN solution which is one of the hottest technology area related to cloud computing. Nicira may be the most famous company in the category, which was acquired by VMware for $1.26B in July 2012. The deal shows huge potential for SDN.
  • http://www.midokura.jp/

Apr 1, 2013

Samurai Incubate Establishes Samurai Fund 4 / Cnet Japan

Samurai Incubate has founded three venture funds since 2009, in which a smartphone ads, Nobot, and application virtualization technology, Synclogue have been incubated.

The amount of Samurai Fund 4 is 220 million yen. The duration is 8 years and 6 months. In addition to ShinGinko Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Government owned bank, Fuji Startup Ventures, Bit-isle and others invest in the fund. ...

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Cnet Japan 4/1/2013 [jp]

  • Samurai Incubate usually invests around 5 million yen in seed stage startups. So, it says it will invest in about 40 startups from the fund. There are several seed stage focused VCs including accelerators, however, in terms of number of portfolio, Samurai Incubate would be the largest one in Japan.