Tag Archive | "tokyo"

This Week Some Japanese Startups Battled It Out At TechCrunch Tokyo

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Game Developer Gumi, A Sega And Line Partner, Enters North America With Four New Studios

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Tokyo-Based Artist Arrested For 3D Printing Her Vagina

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TechCrunch Tokyo 2012 Winner Whill Launches Kickstarter Campaign For Its Personal Mobility Device

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Japanese Contact-Management Service Sansan Raises $14M To Tackle The U.S.

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business cards by vectorfunk on flickr

Square Signs Santa Clara Lease, Opening Its Second Office In The Bay Area

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Square announced that it has signed a lease to open an office for about 50 employees in Santa Clara.

This is Square’s second office in the San Francisco Bay Area, the first being its San Francisco headquarters. The company moved to a new, larger HQ last fall, and also has offices in New York, Atlanta, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Tokyo, with 800 employees globally. Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Mt.Gox Files For Bankruptcy Protection

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Mt.Gox has filed for bankruptcy protection and has outstanding debt of about $63.6 million, a lawyer for the bitcoin exchange said today during a press conference at the Tokyo District Court. Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Rakuten Opens Its First European R&D Center In Paris

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Paris

Rakuten, the Japan-based Internet services company, opened its first European research and development center in Paris today. Called the Rakuten Institute of Technology, this is Rakuten’s third R&D center in the world.

The other two are in Tokyo, with 40 employees, and New York, with 10. Rakuten’s Paris R&D center will combine with its big data group there, adding a total of 20 new employees to its Paris office this year.

The center’s opening comes a week after Rakuten announced that it had acquired messaging app maker Viber for $900 million, as part of a bid to “become the world’s No. 1 Internet services company.”

In a statement, Rakuten said that its Paris R&D center will focus on projects to “support the development of the global e-commerce industry,” including data analytics, fraud detection, recommendation systems, image processing, user interfaces, and “‘the online to offline’ transition in e-commerce.”

Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said in a press release that:

“Our aim globally is to empower retailers and merchants to sell online, and to do this we must keep up with consumers’ browsing and buying habits – online, on mobile, via social and any other channels that they may want to use in their purchase journey. That’s why we’ve increased the size of our global research team, so they can work on bringing the next big thing in e-commerce to market, with our support.”

Image by Flickr user lakbaydiwa PASANKRUS under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Tuniu.com The Latest IPO To Rise In The East

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Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.10.41 PM

The initial public offering for Chinese online tour booking web site Tuniu may not carry the heft of the impending Alibaba IPO juggernaut (rumored at $130 billion and counting), but it is a sign of investors’ continuing demand for public offerings from Chinese tech companies.

The Beijing-based tour site has selected Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley to run the offering process for its expected $100 million IPO, according to several sources with knowledge of the company’s plans.

In  the clearest public sign of the company’s intentions, one of its investors, Gobi Partners, announced that Conor Yang, the architect behind the public offering of both AirMedia Group and Dangdang.com, had been hired as Tuniu’s chief financial officer earlier this year.

Tuniu has raised over $60 million in venture funding from investors including DCM, Gobi Partners, Sequoia Capital, Highland Capital Partners, and the Tokyo-based Internet services company, Rakuten Inc. 

Group tours are a huge business in China, where the government passed recent legislation regulating how guided tour companies operate, according to an October story on CNN.

As the CNN story notes, 100 million Chinese will travel abroad by 2015 and as of 2012 the Chinese had already overtaken Americans and Germans as the biggest spenders on the international travel scene. A record $102 billion was spent by 83 million Chinese tourists on international tourism, CNN reported.

Online travel in China has already netted venture investors big wins. Qunar.com, which went public in November 2013, was backed by Mayfield Fund, GSR Ventures Management, Tenaya Capital, GGV Capital, Hillhouse Capital, and the Chinese search technology behemoth Baidu, which shelled out $306 million for a massive stake in the company in 2011.

That public offering netted the company $167 million, well above the $125 million target Qunar.com had set in its initial offering documents. Although Qunar.com ended Tuesday’s trading below its offering price, the company still has a market capitalization of over $3.05 billion.

Investors in Chinese technology companies have also been buoyed by the performance of Chinese public offerings throughout the back half of 2013.

1318864331_ccf771fbeeSince 2012 and through to November of 2013 nine U.S. IPOs from China had produced an average return of 203%, including the 1,127% return for Vipshop. That online retail company, which is now trading at over $107 per-share – up from an initial offering price of $5.50 in March 2012 – has been a huge win for early investors like DCM and Sequoia Capital.

Investment banks are also winning with these Chinese public offerings. Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. acted as the joint bookrunners for the highly successful Vipshop offering, while Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Citi were bookrunners on the IPO of 58.com, “the Craigslist of China”. Shares of that online classified ad marketplace are up 73% from their opening price of $24.12. On Tuesday shares of the company closed at $41.89.

Photos via Flickr users pmorgan and 2 dogs. 

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Seoul-Based Accelerator SparkLabs’ Latest Class Includes Wearable Tech And Mobile Game Makers

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Seoul Skyline by Koshy Koshy on Flickr

SparkLabs has unveiled the latest group of startups participating in its Seoul-based accelerator program. The current batch includes locally-based companies, as well as teams from Tokyo, San Francisco and Chicago. SparkLabs alumni previously profiled by TechCrunch include edutech startup KnowRe, personal journaling app Step Journal and fantasy stock trading community TrakInvest.

SparkLabs recently launched a $30 million seed stage fund called SparkLabs Global to focus on emerging economies throughout the world, but its accelerator’s mission continues to be raising the profile of Seoul’s fledgling startup ecosystem. South Korea’s tech industry is best known for hardware giants like Samsung and LG, but more Internet startups are hatching in the country. Spearheaded by a group of Korean-American entrepreneurs, SparkLabs seeks to provide founders with a network of mentors on par with the ones their peers in Silicon Valley have access to, in addition to angel funding and non-financial resources.

SparkLabs’ latest roster of startups represent sectors including wearable tech, telecom, online gaming and medical devices. They are:

  • Tokyo-based FeelU, which creates wearable devices including RingU, an interactive ring that lets you give people you miss a “hug” no matter how far away from each other you are. RingU is connected to a private social network that also allows people to share messages, photos and videos.
  • Flow State Media is a social and mobile game studio with a staff that includes former employees from Zynga, as well as MIT alumni. The startup’s casual games for mobile and PC devices include Letter UP, which was released at the end of June and has already logged more than 1.5 million minutes of gameplay. Flow State Media is currently preparing a “fresh take” on social casino games for release later this year.
  • Based in Chicago, Freenters wants to make life easier for college students by providing free printing services. After launching in the Chicago area, they will expand to major campuses across the U.S.
  • South Korean startup Penta Press, which wants to become the “Getty Images of Asia,” is a platform that collects photos from a network of professional photographers in 25 countries and distributes them to domestic and foreign media organizations. It has already signed partnerships with companies including Yonhap, South Korea’s largest news agency, Daum, the country’s second-largest Internet portal and JiJi Press in Japan.
  • Seoul-based Domo Bio is the maker of SNR.X, a medical device that helps treat sleep apnea and snoring.
  • Mobile music recommendation service 1Day 1Song introduces one new song each day to users based on their preferences. The app is already available in the Korean App Store and will be released in other Asia countries as well.
  • Online talent marketplace PeopleWare was launched by Yong Hyoung, a co-founder of social network CyWorld. The startup is creating a marketplace to match MVP (minimum viable product) projects and engineers from Asia and other regions through each user’s networks.
  • Based in Palo Alto and founded by a senior data scientist from Twitter, Right Zip is an online home rental platform that uses machine learning algorithms to match potential tenants with property owners. You can sign up for the site’s beta version here.
  • RingCL is based in Seoul and is a BaaS (backend as service) company that provides communication services for businesses. RingCL allows its clients to set up a mobile sevrvice only with API calls without having to set up servers.

Image from Koshy Koshy on Flickr

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

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