Jan 31, 2014

Smartphone Game Developer, ONE of THEM Raises 350M Yen For Series B / Venture Now

ONE of THEM announced allocation of new shares of 350 million yen to five investors including Globis Capital Partners and Infinity Ventures. ...

ONE of THEM was established in January 2011 and raised 300 million yen from Globis and Infinity in October of the same year. ...

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Venture Now 1/30/2014 [jp]

  • News of fundraising by game developers seems to be decreasing recently compared to a few years ago, but the average amount raised may be increasing. It is easy to imagine that the competition is getting tougher.
  • http://oneofthem.jp/

Analytic Tool, Xica Raises 100M Yen From Salesforce And Others / TechCrunch Japan

Xica, which provides xica adelie, an statistical analysis tool for business persons without expertise, fundraises 100 million yen from Salesforce.com, Itochu Technology Ventures, and Archetype Ventures. Along with the finance, it launches statistical analysis application connecting with Sales Cloud, cloud-based SFA tool using Heroku, PaaS environment provided by Salesforce.

xica adelie is a service to allow users to find relevance in various data that companies posses. For example, it verifies how various elements such as a number of commercial film aired and fliers distributed, weather or the day of the week, would impact on result like revenue. ...

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TechCrunch Japan 1/30/2014 [jp]

  • xica adelie may be able to be used in various analysis, and CRM would be one of the most relevant applications. So, it is a good fit for both Salesforce and Xica. 
  • http://xica-inc.com/ 

[The Bridge] Japan’s Showcase Gig secures series A funding, starts nationwide operations

Tokyo-based digital marketing startup Showcase Gig, the startup behind ‘O:der’ (apparently pronounced ‘order’), announced today that it has raised funds from Nissay Capital and Nippon Venture Capital. The exact details of the funding were not disclosed but we understand that the amount is in the millions (US dollars).
Since the launch of O:der back in July, the company has been providing a suite of CRM solutions for small-sized retailers, comprising of two iOS apps, one for consumers and the other for merchants. The consumer app has a mobile wallet feature that lets you pay by credit card before picking up a product at the shop. ...
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The Bridge 1/29/2014 [en]

  • O:der is one of O2O services which seem increasing recently. Most of these mobile apps allows shops to send coupons and to give loyalty points based on location or purchasing history. There seems no apparent winner in the category at this moment, the competition may continue and become even more fierce. 
  • http://www.showcase-gig.com/

Jan 28, 2014

[The Bridge] Japan’s AdInnovation partners with Digital Advertising Consortium

Tokyo-based AdInnovation, the startup behind mobile ad analytics solutions AdStore Tracking and Hitracking, announced today that it has partnered with Digital Advertising Consortium (TSE:4281, DAC for short), raising an undisclosed sum of funding from the latter. We were told that AdInnovation became an equity-method affiliate of DAC through the partnership. 
Since its launch back in 2010, AdInnovation has been providing white-label ad performance tracking solutions to many Japanese mobile ad agencies. They raised $1.6 million from several Japanese investors back in July, and recently launched a new performance analytics tool called Hitracking. ...
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The Bridge 1/24/2014 [en]

  • The amount is not disclosed but equity-method affiliate means DAC probably takes over 20% of shares of AdInnovation. As smartphone advertising industry is rapidly growing and changing, many partnerships and acquisitions will follow this year.
  • http://adinnovation.co.jp/

Jan 23, 2014

Tonchidot, Famous For Sekai Camera, Changes The Name To Tab And Fundraises 400M Yen / TechCrunch Japan

Tonchidot terminated Sekai Camera, a smartphone app with AR technology to overlay information on real view on January 22nd. Along with it, it changes the company name to tab to accelerate the business centered around "tab", an advanced version of Sekai Camera. The company also revealed that it raised about 400 million yen from DBJ Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital in addition to three existing investors, DCM, Itochu Technology Ventures, and Jafco.

tab is an app allowing users to save spots which they want to go with location information and to receive notification when the user gets close to the place. Its AR technology tells users of direction and distance to the place over a camera of a smartphone.  ...

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TechCrunch Japan 1/22/2014 [jp]

  • Sekai Camera caused a big buzz in Internet industry and start-up community mainly thanks to the founder, Iguchi's sensational presentation at TechCrunch 50 in 2008. But the concept might be too early and the advanced version, tag has not made big success yet. 
  • http://corp.tab.do/

Jan 22, 2014

[The Bridge] Japanese investment firm Venture United forms $11 million startup fund

Venture United, a Japanese startup investment company, announced today that it has formed a fund worth 1.2 million yen ($11 million). The fund’s investors include the country’s state-run SME Support, Fusion Communications (a telco owned by Rakuten), SBI Securities, ad agency Hakuhodo, and Digital Advertising Consortium. 
Venture United and its parent company United, the company best known for homescreen app CocoPPa, have already invested in many startups, including Lifenet Insurance, Enigmo, Unoh (acquired by Zynga back in 2010), and Nobot (acquired by Mediba, a KDDI company). ...
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The Bridge 1/22/2014 [en]

  • The size of the fund is not so big compared to large scale funds recently launched, but United has had many successful exits for the amount. It is interesting to see which startups they will invest from the new fund.

[The Bridge] Japanese language learning startup Lang-8 secures funding from CyberAgent Ventures

Tokyo-based startup Lang-8, which runs a language learning platform based on peer corrections, announced today that it has raised funding from CyberAgent Ventures. The exact details of the funding were not disclosed. 
Lang-8 has acquired over 730,000 users from 219 countries and regions around the world, with about 70% coming from outside Japan. According to the company’s CEO Yangyang Xi, they plan to use these funds to develop a new service, and add three more engineers to their current three-person team. ...
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The Bridge 1/20/2014 [en]

  • CyberAgent Ventures seems focusing on education startups. Its portfolio related to education includes RareJob, Skype English lesson, Street Academy, C2C of offline learning, mana.bo, tutor matching mobile app, and Best Teacher, online text-based English lesson.
  • http://lang-8.jp/

Asahi Shimbun And KDDI Invests In Movie Review SNS, Filmarks / ITmedia

Asahi Shimbun Company and KDDI announced to invest 100 million yen in total in Tsumiki, a movie review SNS app, Filmarke operator. They aim to jointly develop entertainment SNS.

Filmarks was launched back in August 2012. 54,000 films are placed and 1.3 million reviews have been posted as of January 2014. The service allows users to post review or score of films they watched, to read others' review, to clip film titles they want to watch, or to search films by directors, actors, or awards. ...

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ITmedia 1/20/2014 [jp]

  • TV station companies like Fuji Media started investments in startups actively from last year. The trend is expanding to other traditional media like Asahi Shimbun which is one of the largest news paper publishers in Japan. 
  • http://filmarks.com/

Jan 21, 2014

AppBroadCast, Mobile Game Media, Fundraises From KDDI and Mizuho Capital / Cnet Japan

AppBroadCast revealed fundraising by allocation of new shares to KDDI Open Innovation Fund, operated by a venture capital firm Global Brain, and Mizuho Capital. The amount is not disclosed, but it is considered between 50 million to 100 million yen.

AppBroadCast was founded on January 2013. It partners with KDDI to operate Game Gift, a game media for smartphone.

Game Gift provides virtual items of popular games on Google Play as a gift as well as other game related contents like news, walkthroughs, or reviews. As of October of 2013, it provides a gift for about 40% of top 50 games on Google Play. The app surpassed 500,000 downloads. ...

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Cnet Japan 1/20/2014 [jp]

  • Smartphone game industry seems becoming more capital intensive than before and some large studios rule the top ranking recently. However, solutions around mobile games such as advertising or analytic seem to have a room for startups to compete with even now. 
  • http://www.appbroadcast.jp/ 

[The Bridge] Japanese startup Logly raises $1.2M to grow its advertising and recommendation services

Tokyo-based Logly, a startup running an internet ad platform and recommendation service, announced yesterday that it has raised 120 million yen (approximately $1.15 million) from CA Mobile, Voyage Ventures, Mizuho Capital, and SMBC Venture Capital. The fundraising took place back on December 25th, 2013. 
Logly is a demand-side platform that allows advertisers to distribute ads efficiently based on their unique technology that combines the context analysis of a website and the behavioral analysis of visitors. ...
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The Bridge 1/18/2014 [en]

  • DSP or ad platforms are increasing in the past few years including large advertising agencies, and consequently it seems the competition is getting fierce. Logly tries to differentiate with its unique targeting technology. 
  • https://www.logly.co.jp/

[The Bridge] Japanese mobile app developer Utagoe fundraises from KLab

Tokyo-based Utagoe, the startup behind mobile app Moment Diary (iOS/Android), announced yesterday that it has raised an undisclosed sum from gaming company KLab and its investment arm KLab Ventures. With the funds, KLab will take a 17.5% stake in the company. 
Moment Diary is a free journal app with a calendar, allowing you to make notes with timestamps, adding texts, images, videos, and even audio. Since its launch back in January of 2011, the app has acquired more than 24.1 million users on iOS and Google Play. In terms of their user demographics, Japan accounts for about 50%, and the rest are mainly from Korea, China, the Middle East, the US, Germany and Russia. Women in their teens and 20s make up the majority of their users. ...
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The Bridge  1/16/2014 [en]

  • 24 million is an impressive number. Klab develops mobile games to which it aims to bring some of the 24 million users particularly outside of Japan.
  • http://www.utagoe.com/en/index.html

[gamesindustry] SoftBank leads $120m investment round in Chinese app store

SoftBank Corp. was at the forefront of a $120 million funding round for Wandoujia, one of the premier app stores in the fragmented Chinese mobile market. 
This series B round also featured contributions from Wandoujia's series A investors, DCM and Innovation Works Development Fund. This new injection of capital leaves the company well placed to strengthen its position in the Chinese mobile market, which is dominated by Google's Android OS. ...
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gamesindustry 1/13/2014 [en]

  • Softbank is aggressively increasing its portfolio in mobile gaming recently. GungHo and Supercell, both of which are top mobile gaming company in the world, became a subsidiary of the telecom operator. It is interesting to see how Softbank gets into Chinese mobile market.
  • http://www.wandoujia.com/

CyberAgent Invests In e-Book Venture, Woody Supporting Former Employee To Startup / Mynavi News

CyberAgent announced on January 9th to invest in Woody which runs ebook related businesses.

Woody is a startup which Mr. Nakazato, who worked at CyberAgent until October 2013, established in November.  ...

Woody plans to provide ebook dedicated editing tools for writers around spring of 2014 as well as promotion service. It aims to allow not only professional writers, but also bloggers and amateur users to publish ebook easily. ...

continue reading in Japanese...
Mynavi news 1/10/2014 [jp]

  • The investment comes from CyberAgent itself, not CyberAgent Ventures. At the launch of CyberAgent's investment business, it said to target middle stage startups and CyberAgent Ventures invests in seed/early stage startups. But Woody is seed stage, so it may widen the criteria to choose startups now.
  • http://www.thewoody.jp/

[The Bridge] Japanese robotics entrepreneur forms $20M fund for bio and energy startups

Our readers may recall that Japanese robotics company Schaft was recently acquired by Google and won the DARPA robotics challenge trials. Bloomberg reported yesterday that the company’s co-founder Takashi Kato will form a new 2 billion yen fund (approximately $19 million) for Japanese startups focused on biotechnology and energy efficiency segments. It will be called 246 Capital. 
In the process of negotiating with Google during the acquisition process, he tried to get funds from 10 investment firms and the state-run fund Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ). But his efforts didn’t work out. In response to this disappointing experience, he plans to launch a scheme to help Japanese engineers and scientists get funding to complementary to their research and development expenses.  ...
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The Bridge 1/10/2014 [en]

  • Investments in startups of Internet and mobile applications may be increasing in Japan recently, but it seems still difficult for more capital intensive or long term R&D required startups like robotics. It will be a great step that an entrepreneur who succeeded exit in the field becomes an investor to support these startups.
  • http://schaft-inc.jp/ 

[The Bridge] Big data startup Hapyrus rebrands as FlyData, raises $1.6M

Silicon-valley based Hapyrus, a Japanese startup focused on developing big data solutions, announced yesterday that it has raised $1.6 million from investors in Japan and the US, including 500startups. Coinciding with these funds, the startup will rebrand itself as FlyData and set up a local subsidiary in Japan. 
The company is led by Japanese entrepreneur Koichi Fujikawa, who previously worked with a number of prominent Japanese startups like Dennotai (acquired by Yahoo Japan back in 2000), Simplex Technology (TSE:4340), and Sirius Technology (also acquired by Yahoo Japan, 2010). ...
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The Bridge 1/10/2014 [en]

  • There are not many big data solution startup from Japan, but interestingly another popular startup, Treasure Data also established its headquarter in Silicon Valley and entered Japan market later. 
  • https://www.flydata.com/

[The Bridge] Japan’s Adways partners with Korean growth hacking startup 5Rocks

Japanese internet company Adways (TSE:2849) announced on Thursday that it has invested an undisclosed sum in and partnered with Korean startup 5Rocks. The latter develops growth hacking solutions for mobile apps, and launched services for Japanese app developers last year. 
Our readers may recall that 5Rocks raised 230 million yen (approximately $2.3 million) from Japanese VC Global Brain. ...
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The Bridge 1/10/2014 [en]

  • 5Rocks's solution mainly targets mobile gaming developers allowing them to analyze various data by detailed user segments and to do targeted campaign based on the analysis.  
  • https://www.5rocks.io/

[The Bridge] Next-gen Japanese wheelchair startup, Whill, closes seed funding with a total of $1,750,000

Whill is a Japanese startup that is currently developing a next-generation wheelchair. Earlier this week the startup unveiled that it has raised funds from Vegas Tech Fund, 500Startups, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and individual angel investors back on November 6th. 
The total amount of funding raised in this round is $750,000, completing the company’s seed funding of $1.75 million in total. Vegas Tech Fund, also involved in this most recent funding, includes Zappos’ Tony Hsieh as a partner CEO. Coinciding with the announcement, Whill has renewed its company website and has began online pre-orders. ...
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The Bridge 1/9/2014 [en]

  • The wheelchair is sold on their web site with US$9,500 by pre-order. The first 50 units will be delivered in the second quarter of 2014. It is expected that we can see more hardware startups from Japan this year.
  • https://whill.jp/

Jan 13, 2014

[e27] Breaker raises US$2M to launch new mobile video network for Japan

Japan-based producer and distributor of mobile video entertainment Breaker has secured US$2M in seed funding to launch its services in the Northeast Asian country. 
The seed round was led by Tokyo-based strategic consulting and business development firm Dream Incubator, and was joined by Siemer Ventures and other investors. 
According to an official release, Breaker, which is managed by parent company digital media venture studio Designed for Revolution (DFR Asia), will focus on creating and distributing content related to entertainment, music and fashion. ...
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e27 1/3/2014 [en]

  • It seems the company has not distributed mobile videos. Its parent company, DFR Asia has launched 10 services related to media and entertainment.
  • http://www.brkr.jp/

[The Bridge] Japanese budgeting app Dr. Wallet raises $1 million

BearTail, the startup behind the cloud-based household accounting solution Dr. Wallet, announced today that it has raised $100 million yen (approximately $955,000) from three Japanese investment firms: Incubate Fund, Nissay Capital, and SMBC Venture Capital. 
The service lets you keep track of your personal finances by simply scanning your receipts. It was officially launched back in August, and is now available for the Android and iOS platforms, as well on the desktop. To differentiate from similar services, the app does not use OCR (optical character recognition), but instead depends on human-powered data entry to ensuring accuracy. It also automatically sorts and classifies your purchases. With this human-powered processing, the startup could reach data entry accuracy of up to 99.98%, likely enough to ease any user concerns over erroneous inputs. ...
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The Bridge 12/27/2013 [en]

  • Mobile services around money is one of the hottest categories in Internet startups recently. Direct competitors for Dr. Wallet includes ReceReco and Zaim, both of which use OCR. 
  • https://www.drwallet.jp/

[TechCrunch] Gogolook Confirms Its Acquisition By Naver, The Owner Of Line

Taipei-based startup Gogolook confirmed that it has been acquired by Naver, the Korean Internet giant that is best known outside of Asia for being the owner of Line. Gogolook has not disclosed the acquisition price, but a report yesterday from the Investment Commission of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs said the amount was NT$529 million (or about $17.6 million USD) ... 
Gogolook’s flagship product is Whoscall, a caller ID app that has 1.2 million monthly active users and over 600 million numbers in its database, according to the company. ...
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TechCrunch 12/26/2013 [en]

  • LINE started providing the Whoscall for Android from January 10th 2014 as "LINE whoscall". But it has not been yet available for LINE's voice call or messaging.

[The Bridge] Japanese companies form new $300M investment fund to target promising startups

Japan’s Nikkei reported today that Silicon Valley-based investment company WiL (World Innovation Lab) has formed a new fund focused on startups in Japan and the Valley, raising $300 million from a number of Japanese companies: All Nippon Airways, NTT Group, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, Hakuhodo DY Group, Daiwa Securities, JVC Kenwood, Benesse Holdings, and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan. 
Their potential investees are startups developing new products and services in fields like consumer electronics, e-commerce, or motor vehicles, making the most of smartphone and big data technologies. They expect the size of each investment to be in the range from $5 million to $50 million, with about six to eight investments being made per year. The Nikkei says that $300 million is a figure that equate to 30% of all startup investments in Japan in FY 2012. ...
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The Bridge 12/28/2013 [en]

  • $300 million is very large scale for a single venture fund in Japan. With large corporations in various industries in Japan as investors, WiL would be able to attract attentions from startups even in Silicon Valley, particularly which are interested in going into Japan and Asian market.

Jan 11, 2014

[Tech In Asia] Mobile game developer Gumi raises $19 million, partners with Fuji Media

While you’re enjoying your turkey yesterday, Japanese mobile game developer Gumi announced that it has concluded a financing round of 1.9 billion yen ($19 million) raised from FMH, B-Dash Ventures, East Ventures, Shinsei bank, DBJ capital, and other undisclosed investors. ... 
Together with the funding news, Gumi also revealed the newly established Fuji & Gumi Games, a company jointly set up with Fuji Media. ...
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Tech In Asia 12/26/2013 [en]

  • The paradigm shift of mobile games from featurephone to smartphone has been drastic in the last few years. Many of successful game developers for featurephone have been struggling to move to smartphone. Gumi is one of the developers but it seems getting adjusted for smartphone well.
  • http://gu3.co.jp/

[The Next Web] Japanese recipe site Cookpad expands abroad with acquisition of Allthecooks and Mis Recetas

Cookpad, Japan’s top recipe website, is making an aggressive international push by acquiring Spain’s Mis Recetas and an equity interest in social cooking app Allthecooks. The move follows the launch of Cookpad’s English site earlier this year. ...
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The Next Web 12/20/2013 [en]

  • Cookpad has over 20 million monthly active users only in Japan including 1.1 million premium users who pays 294 yen per month to use many premium functions including recipe ranking. More than a half of 20 million come from mobile. Considering its steadily growing user base and rubust business model, It might be possible to go global even earlier. It is very interesting how the company expand to overseas taking advantage of the acquisitions.
  • http://cookpad.com/

[The Bridge] Japan’s U-note raises funds, aims to be intelligence hub for businesses

Tokyo-based startup U-note announced on Thursday that it has received investments from Venture United and Anri. Details were not disclosed, but the amount is thought to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prior to this funding, the startup raised 11 million yen (approximately $130,000) from Party Factory, Voyage Ventures, and Movida Japan about a year ago. 
U-note is an collaborative event summary platform, providing text overviews of presentations, lectures or events. Typical topics could be notable business success stories, secrets for better sales, or useful tips for your work. Their users are mainly business people in their 20s and 30s. ...
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The Bridge 12/20/2013 [en]

  • U-note only placed summary of physical events like seminars and conferences at first. Now it expands to any articles related to business skills and knowledge. So, it became a content farm focusing on business.
  • http://u-note.me/