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SpaceData develops AI that can create digital twin of entire planet, raises $10M+ in seed round

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Tokyo-based SpaceData, the Japanese startup developing artificial intelligence that can create a Digital Twin of the Earth from Satellite Data, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 1.42 billion yen (over $10 million US) in a seed round. Participating investors are Spiral Capital, Sparx Innovation for Future, KDDI Open Innovation Fund, GREE Ventures, The Creative Fund, Headline Asia, MZ Web3 Fund in addition to three angel investors: Jo Hirao (CEO of Zigexn), Hiroshi Tomishima (Co-founder of Mercari), and Yusaku Maezawa (Founder of Zozo). SpaceData was founded in January of 2017 by serial entrepreneur Katsuaki Sato, also known as the founder of Japanese tech company Metaps (TSE:6172) and running several startups. The company has developed AI-based technologies that can generates virtual worlds (digital twin) using satellite data and 3DCG technology. Using machine learning on geostationary images of the ground and terrain data from satellites, the platform can automatically detect, classify, and organize objects on the ground, and generate their 3D models with detailed texture using 3DCG technology. The company’s algorithm excels at automatically generating 3D models from a human perspective, which is something that conventional 3D globe tools (such as Google Earth) are not very good at. This makes it easier…

Image credit: SpaceData

Tokyo-based SpaceData, the Japanese startup developing artificial intelligence that can create a Digital Twin of the Earth from Satellite Data, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 1.42 billion yen (over $10 million US) in a seed round. Participating investors are Spiral Capital, Sparx Innovation for Future, KDDI Open Innovation Fund, GREE Ventures, The Creative Fund, Headline Asia, MZ Web3 Fund in addition to three angel investors: Jo Hirao (CEO of Zigexn), Hiroshi Tomishima (Co-founder of Mercari), and Yusaku Maezawa (Founder of Zozo).

SpaceData was founded in January of 2017 by serial entrepreneur Katsuaki Sato, also known as the founder of Japanese tech company Metaps (TSE:6172) and running several startups. The company has developed AI-based technologies that can generates virtual worlds (digital twin) using satellite data and 3DCG technology. Using machine learning on geostationary images of the ground and terrain data from satellites, the platform can automatically detect, classify, and organize objects on the ground, and generate their 3D models with detailed texture using 3DCG technology.

The company’s algorithm excels at automatically generating 3D models from a human perspective, which is something that conventional 3D globe tools (such as Google Earth) are not very good at. This makes it easier to be adopted into applications such as VR (virtual technology), games, and video production, where people move around in 3D space from a human perspective. The company claims that the generated digital twin data can meet the rapidly growing demand for metaverse in various industries, including entertainment, autonomous driving, urban development, disaster prevention, and defense.

via PR Times

Soundraw, AI music composer from Japan, secures $1.4M to boost global expansion effort

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Tokyo-based Soundraw, the Japanese startup behind an AI-powered music composing service under the same name, announced on Thursday that it has secured 180 million yen (about $1.4 million US) in the latest funding round. Participating investors are Ceres (TSE:3696), Mint, iSGS Investment Works, SMBC Venture Capital, and Deepcore. For the company, this follows their seed round (securing 65 million yen) in June of 2020 and pre-series A round (securing an undisclosed sum) in March of 2021. Deepcore has also participated in a previous round. Soundraw was founded in February of 2020 by serial entrepreneur Tago Kusunoki. During his university days, Kusunoki twice won the national championship in a university student dance competition. After graduating from Ritsumeikan University graduate school, he worked for a manufacturer and then launched his own company to pursue his dream of creating something by himself. Prior to Soundraw, Kusunoki has developed the SoundMoovz wearable musical instrument gadget based on his dance experience, which has shipped a total of 400,000 units to 17 countries to date. It is common to hear background music in all kinds of videos on YouTube and Facebook, not to mention on TV programs. Creators of these clips usually choose from stock music…

Founder Daigo Kusunoki sits in the center among the Soundraw team.
Image credit: Soundraw

Tokyo-based Soundraw, the Japanese startup behind an AI-powered music composing service under the same name, announced on Thursday that it has secured 180 million yen (about $1.4 million US) in the latest funding round. Participating investors are Ceres (TSE:3696), Mint, iSGS Investment Works, SMBC Venture Capital, and Deepcore. For the company, this follows their seed round (securing 65 million yen) in June of 2020 and pre-series A round (securing an undisclosed sum) in March of 2021. Deepcore has also participated in a previous round.

Soundraw was founded in February of 2020 by serial entrepreneur Tago Kusunoki. During his university days, Kusunoki twice won the national championship in a university student dance competition. After graduating from Ritsumeikan University graduate school, he worked for a manufacturer and then launched his own company to pursue his dream of creating something by himself. Prior to Soundraw, Kusunoki has developed the SoundMoovz wearable musical instrument gadget based on his dance experience, which has shipped a total of 400,000 units to 17 countries to date.

Image credit: Soundraw

It is common to hear background music in all kinds of videos on YouTube and Facebook, not to mention on TV programs. Creators of these clips usually choose from stock music services just as they choose photos and images from stock photo sites, but this poses a few problems. Unlike photos and images which can be searched for in a list, they have to listen to and check the music one by one to pick the best fit.

The AI composer can help with these needs, there are no copyright issues involved because each of the tunes created is completely original. This approach of creating a new song to match the clip, rather than searching for one in the past, is an interesting shift. Because of its non-verbal user experience making less language barriers, the platform has successfully attracted more users from the overseas. The automated entire process helps them keep gross margin high.

Although the company has conducted no marketing activities in the global market so far, users from the overseas accounts for 37% of the service’s paying user base, mainly from Europe and the United States. They will use the funds to renew their platform’s user interface and experience drastically and increase the variety of music tracks the platform can create. In addition, they have established a Los Angeles office with several local representatives to boost international market effort.

SOUNDRAW won the Pitch Arena competition at the B Dash Camp 2022 Summer startup conference in Sapporo last month.

via PR Times

ChatBook, developing chatbot and marketing automation tool, acquired by Monex Group

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We just learned that Japanese startup ChatBook, providing the automated marketing solution under the same name utilizing chatbot, has been acquired by Japan’s leading FinTech conglomerate Monex Group(TSE:8698). Monex acquired all stakes in ChatBook for an undisclosed sum. Chatbook’s most recent funding was a pre-series A round in December of 2019 (securing 100 million yen, about $920,000 in the exchange rate at the time) where Monex Ventures, the VC arm of Monex Group, participated in the investment. Japanese startup database Initial reported ChatBook was valued at 712 million yen (about $6.6 million) at the time. Chatbook was co-founded in September of 2016 (named Hect as its start) by Maiko Kojima who formerly worked for Prime Again (now known as Prime) as CFO/COO. The firm has been chosen for various accelerator programs so far; the first batch of the Code Public program in 2016, Accelerate course of FbStart which is a developer support program by Facebook in 2017 and the first batch of AI Accelerator organized by the major job information provider Dip (TSE:2379). ChatBook uses chatbots compatible with social media like Facebook, Line, and Instagram to lure potential customers and link them to sales activities in conjunction with customer relation…

Image credit: Monex Goup, ChatBook

We just learned that Japanese startup ChatBook, providing the automated marketing solution under the same name utilizing chatbot, has been acquired by Japan’s leading FinTech conglomerate Monex Group(TSE:8698). Monex acquired all stakes in ChatBook for an undisclosed sum.

Chatbook’s most recent funding was a pre-series A round in December of 2019 (securing 100 million yen, about $920,000 in the exchange rate at the time) where Monex Ventures, the VC arm of Monex Group, participated in the investment. Japanese startup database Initial reported ChatBook was valued at 712 million yen (about $6.6 million) at the time.

Chatbook was co-founded in September of 2016 (named Hect as its start) by Maiko Kojima who formerly worked for Prime Again (now known as Prime) as CFO/COO. The firm has been chosen for various accelerator programs so far; the first batch of the Code Public program in 2016, Accelerate course of FbStart which is a developer support program by Facebook in 2017 and the first batch of AI Accelerator organized by the major job information provider Dip (TSE:2379).

Image credit: ChatBook

ChatBook uses chatbots compatible with social media like Facebook, Line, and Instagram to lure potential customers and link them to sales activities in conjunction with customer relation management tools. While there are several marketing solutions using chatbots in Japan, Chatbook has a high affinity with sales activities for long-legged and rigid business solutions for enterprises.

In this sector, some of our readers may recall that Japanese startup Zeals, developing and offering the Fanp chatbot-based solution for e-commerce retailers, had planned to list on the TSE Mothers market but subsequently decided postpone it due to negative factors such as changes in US monetary policy, IPO market trends, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company recently announced that it has secured 5 billion yen (about $38 million) in May.

Through this acquisition, Monex will invest its management resources in Chatbook, while promoting further business expansion by providing multifaceted support such as sales channel expansion and funding, and will return Chatbook’s human resources, mainly engineers, and the knowledge and know-how gained through business expansion to the Monex. The company will also aim to enhance the digital marketing capabilities of the Monex Group companies by returning to the Monex Group the human resources of Chatbook, mainly engineers, as well as the knowledge and expertise gained through business expansion.

Through this acquisition, Monex expects to invest its management resources in Chatbook while promoting further business expansion by providing support for cultivating sales channels and funding. In addition, the acquisition will also enable the FinTech group to enhance the digital marketing capabilities of each of its subsidiaries by incorporating ChatBook’s human resources, mainly engineers, as well as the knowledge and expertise.

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Japan’s Caster, offering WFH jobs for freelance workers, expanding into Germany, UAE

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Japanese WFH (work-from-home) jobs offering startup Caster, headquartered in the country’s western prefecture of Miyzaki, announced on Friday that it will be expanding into Germany and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company plans to set up a local office in Berlin and Dubai within this year. Since its launched back in September of 2014, the company offers online assistance service in the categories like secretarial, human resources, accounting, translation, and other corporate tasks for startups and enterprises. The company had 1,500 remote staffers registered as of June while more than 3,000 companies have used the service so far. The company said that it has chosen Germany as its first step for global expansion because the country’s social environment and workforce are similar to those in Japan, which helps the company take advantage of their experience and schemes. With offices in Germany and the UAE, Caster plans to accelerate its expansion effort into the entire European region. The company has already begun recruiting local employees in Berlin and the rest of Germany on the the Japan-Germany Industrial Association website. In February, Caster announced that it has secured 1.3 billion yen (about $11.5 million US in the exchange rate at the time)…

Image credit: Caster

Japanese WFH (work-from-home) jobs offering startup Caster, headquartered in the country’s western prefecture of Miyzaki, announced on Friday that it will be expanding into Germany and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company plans to set up a local office in Berlin and Dubai within this year.

Since its launched back in September of 2014, the company offers online assistance service in the categories like secretarial, human resources, accounting, translation, and other corporate tasks for startups and enterprises. The company had 1,500 remote staffers registered as of June while more than 3,000 companies have used the service so far.

The company said that it has chosen Germany as its first step for global expansion because the country’s social environment and workforce are similar to those in Japan, which helps the company take advantage of their experience and schemes. With offices in Germany and the UAE, Caster plans to accelerate its expansion effort into the entire European region. The company has already begun recruiting local employees in Berlin and the rest of Germany on the the Japan-Germany Industrial Association website.

In February, Caster announced that it has secured 1.3 billion yen (about $11.5 million US in the exchange rate at the time) in a Series D round, which brought their funding sum up to around 3 billion yen (about $21.5 million US in the exchange rate at the time) on an estimation basis. The Initial startup database estimates the company is valued over 12.3 billion yen (about $89 million US).

Private equity in Japan: a perfect storm

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This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.” He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here. I’m a VC guy not a PE guy, so when I start opining about private equity, readers should grant my words a tepid reception. Yet I am observing a phenomenon here on the ground in Japan that I thought might be relevant to share. Let’s start with recapping the current macroeconomic backdrop, a context upon which numerous experts — both armchair and real — have weighed in. Massive runaway inflation has taken root in most developed economies. At last print, CPI, a core measure of inflation in the U.S., ticked up to 8.6%. Governments and particularly central banks — whose core mandate is to keep inflation under control — have found themselves behind the curve. As a result, the U.S….

mark-bivens_portrait

This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.”

He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here.


Hurricane Sandy hits Massachusetts.
A public domain image. Photo by Marilee Caliendo/FEMA via Picryl

I’m a VC guy not a PE guy, so when I start opining about private equity, readers should grant my words a tepid reception. Yet I am observing a phenomenon here on the ground in Japan that I thought might be relevant to share.

Let’s start with recapping the current macroeconomic backdrop, a context upon which numerous experts — both armchair and real — have weighed in. Massive runaway inflation has taken root in most developed economies. At last print, CPI, a core measure of inflation in the U.S., ticked up to 8.6%.

Governments and particularly central banks — whose core mandate is to keep inflation under control — have found themselves behind the curve. As a result, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, followed not far behind by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England, have shifted to a steady diet of interest rate hikes and quantitative tightening, sending asset prices plummeting, with seemingly no asset class immune (equities, real estate, crypto assets, you name it).

The one glaring exception to all this within the G7 countries is Japan. In Japan, depending on how broad a basket you take, CPI inflation has risen to only 2.5%, and if stripping out food and energy from the calculation, inflation in Japan currently sits at a mere 0.3%, 20x lower than the comparable measure in the U.S.

Accordingly, the bank of Japan has maintained its policy of yield curve control, effectively capping yields on 10-year government bonds to 25 basis points. The impact of course of this stark disparity, i.e. with other countries hiking rates and tightening while Japan maintains low rates, has manifested itself in a drastic JPY devaluation to a 20-year low, as I’ve written about before

In light of the Yen’s tumble, there has been some speculation in the markets that the BOJ will relent on its yield curve control policy in order to bolster its currency. However, consensus here in Tokyo seems to be that as long as inflation in Japan does not get out of hand, it’s unlikely that the BOJ would do anything else but stay the course. Furthermore, BOJ governor Kuroda-san’s final mandate ends next spring. The likelihood of him implementing a radical policy shift in the final nine months of his mandate appears low.

So this brings me back to the topic of private equity. When executed successfully, private equity transactions can generate value creation in up to three different ways (VCs like to joke that there are only three, but I’ll resist the temptation here):

  1. Operational efficiencies
  2. Multiple expansion
  3. Leverage

Operational efficiencies can result from restructuring. Divestment of underperforming assets, unlocking cost savings, bolt-on acquisitions, realignment of management incentives, are among other expertise that PE firms can bring to a company once they take control.

Multiple expansion means positioning a company to justify higher EV/S and EV/EBITDA multiples (enterprise value/sales, enterprise value/EBITDA, respectively). Higher multiples can be attained via both internal actions such as enhanced strategic focus, improved corporate governance, and external factors such as investing in a sector which is growing or coming back into favor.

Leverage means using a significant portion of debt to acquire the target company in the PE buyout. A typical leveraged buyout of a company for say $100 million might entail $30 million of equity from the PE fund and $70 million of debt from lenders.

As you can imagine, combining two or all three above factors can exponentially enhance the financial return profile of the investment. Let’s say that the aforementioned $100 million company is valued at a multiple of 5x EBITDA, (EBITDA = 100m / 5 => 20m). The transaction is financed with 30m from the PE fund and 70m in outside debt. If the PE firm through operational efficiencies is able to increase EBITDA from 20m to 30m,  and in parallel is able to justify that the company thanks to its improved strategic focus and sectorial growth justifies an EV/EBITDA multiple of 7 rather than 5, the enterprise value of the company becomes $210 million. If the PE fund can find a buyer for the company at this price, it will generate a return on its invested capital of 4.67x ((210m – 70m debt)/30m). 

When viewing Japan through the lens of the above three factors for private equity value creation, the market here looks pretty attractive. 

Without naming names, it’s no secret that many incumbent corporations carry underperforming business lines on their books, and hence offer some opportunities ripe for restructuring, which in turn could unlock operational efficiencies. Additionally, Japan’s new ESG compliance requirements are forcing some companies to restructure and in certain cases even carve out business units.

Regarding the principle of multiple expansion, EV/EBITDA multiples are moving in quite the opposite direction worldwide, as rising rates depress asset prices. Yet I would submit that such forces of multiple compression run deeper in the U.S. and Europe right now than what we are witnessing in Japan.

However, thanks to its low interest rate environment, debt financing in Japan remains a relative bargain compared to the rest of the world. The opportunity to structure buyout transactions with inexpensive leverage is where Japan really shines on these vectors for private equity value creation.

Moreover, the perception in Japan of the business of private equity, even of foreign funds, has been gradually improving. In the eyes of foreign PE funds, the Japanese market represents a reliable beacon of security and rule of law.

Upon admittedly superficial analysis, it stands to reason that Japan should represent an appealing market for global PE funds in the current environment.

We’re already witnessing some evidence of movement. At the start of the latest annual shareholding meeting season, a record 77 companies faced proposals from stock owners, many of them foreign funds. In March, Sweden’s EQT acquired Bering Private Equity Asia, with stated expansion plans for Japan. The potential imminent $20 billion buyout of Toshiba would serve as a bellwether.

Whether these data points portend a broader trend remains to be seen, but if they do, this could result in increased competition for Japan’s domestic PE firms. (Unlike venture deals, in which VC firms often invest collaboratively as syndicates, private equity is more of a solo sport). An informal survey suggests to me that they are not alarmed.

Perhaps I’m straying too far out of my lane here, but because I enjoy these hypothetical thought experiments, here’s my unsolicited (and probably unwelcome) advice to Japan’s domestic PE firms: build relationships upstream, i.e. with venture capital funds in Japan.

The market here still remains quite opaque to foreigners at the venture stage, so you have an inherent competitive advantage by being on the ground. Granted, not all venture companies grow into private equity targets, but high-growth firms in some sectors often do, such as in enterprise SaaS, or alternatively can serve as complementary targets for PE build-up strategies. Building such relationships today will lay the groundwork for future dealflow before the competitive bidding process even begins.

Japan’s free insurance startup Warrantee to commence trading on NASDAQ

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We reported earlier this year that Osaka-headquartered Warrantee, the Japanese startup offering free insurance services in the US and Singapore, has publicly filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its initial public offering (IPO) on NASDAQ. We recently learned the application has been approved by SEC. According to the regulator’s database EDGAR, the company has received SEC’s Notice of Effectiveness dated June 30. The company’s stock will be traded under its ticker code WRNT while it’s uncertain when the trading begins. Based on past cases, the trading will start within half to one month after the approval. We confirmed that Bloomberg has already set up a page showing Warrantee’s quotes. Meanwhile, Warrantee has posted a document titled Public Notice of Board of Directors’ Resolution on Issuance of Shares for Subscription on their website, which details the subscription and payment for the underlying shares and the shares subject of the Over-Allotment Option. Founded back in October of 2013 by CEO Yusuke Shono, Warrantee started its business with helping consumers turn product warranties into digital followed by foraying into the on-demand insurance market in 2017 in collaboration with insurance companies. Subsequently the company started offering free or low-cost on-demand…

Yusuke Shono
Image credit: Warrantee

We reported earlier this year that Osaka-headquartered Warrantee, the Japanese startup offering free insurance services in the US and Singapore, has publicly filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its initial public offering (IPO) on NASDAQ. We recently learned the application has been approved by SEC.

According to the regulator’s database EDGAR, the company has received SEC’s Notice of Effectiveness dated June 30. The company’s stock will be traded under its ticker code WRNT while it’s uncertain when the trading begins. Based on past cases, the trading will start within half to one month after the approval. We confirmed that Bloomberg has already set up a page showing Warrantee’s quotes.

Meanwhile, Warrantee has posted a document titled Public Notice of Board of Directors’ Resolution on Issuance of Shares for Subscription on their website, which details the subscription and payment for the underlying shares and the shares subject of the Over-Allotment Option.

Founded back in October of 2013 by CEO Yusuke Shono, Warrantee started its business with helping consumers turn product warranties into digital followed by foraying into the on-demand insurance market in 2017 in collaboration with insurance companies.

Subsequently the company started offering free or low-cost on-demand insurance services in the US and Singapore where state-run affordable and universal health insurance systems are less common unlike Japan.

We have contacted Warrantee for further details but haven’t yet received any response as of this writing. This is a developing story and may be updated in the future.

One of best-loved newsletters among entrepreneurs to hold first Tokyo meetup on July 12

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This guest post is authored by Tomohiko Hayashi. He is Pricncipal Director at Accenture Song / Accenture Ventures. He leads business development and innovation from a customer experience perspective. He has won and judged many awards at industry events including SXSW and Cannes Lions. You all know about a16z media, right? Then, have you heard of Lenny’s Newsletter? In my opinion, it is a newsletter and global Slack community that gathers the best startup information available today. More than 150,000 people, mainly startup PMs, managers, engineers, designers, etc., are registered. Lenny Rachitsky, former product manager of Airbnb, who operates these programs. The off-line meetups of this community are being held in various countries around the world by community participants. In June 2022 alone, there are 24 locations worldwide. I’d like to make it happen in Tokyo too! So I raised my hand to be the host. The first meeting will be held at Accenture Innovation Hub in Azabujuban on Tuesday, July 12, from 7PM. Would be great if we can get the Tokyo global crowd together! The content of the event is to be a place for international startups and globally minded startups to meet and exchange ideas. Please apply…

Tomohiko Hayashi

This guest post is authored by Tomohiko Hayashi.

He is Pricncipal Director at Accenture Song / Accenture Ventures. He leads business development and innovation from a customer experience perspective.

He has won and judged many awards at industry events including SXSW and Cannes Lions.


Lenny’s Newsletter

You all know about a16z media, right? Then, have you heard of Lenny’s Newsletter? In my opinion, it is a newsletter and global Slack community that gathers the best startup information available today. More than 150,000 people, mainly startup PMs, managers, engineers, designers, etc., are registered.

Lenny Rachitsky

Lenny Rachitsky, former product manager of Airbnb, who operates these programs.

The off-line meetups of this community are being held in various countries around the world by community participants. In June 2022 alone, there are 24 locations worldwide.

I’d like to make it happen in Tokyo too! So I raised my hand to be the host.

The first meeting will be held at Accenture Innovation Hub in Azabujuban on Tuesday, July 12, from 7PM. Would be great if we can get the Tokyo global crowd together!

The content of the event is to be a place for international startups and globally minded startups to meet and exchange ideas. Please apply for the event by filling out the form above. There will be free drinks and snacks. You don’t have to be a newsletter reader.

Japanese space robot developer Gitai sets up shop in LA

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Tokyo-based Gitai, the Japanese telexistance robotics startup for the space industry, announced last week that it has opened an office in Los Angeles for R&D, manufacturing, and business development. The company will begin recruiting project managers as well as various types of engineers in earnest. They had been conducting all business activities in Tokyo until  now. As collaboration with US agencies and private companies like Nanoracks and NASA has increased, including the successful onboard demonstration of their robot to the International Space Station last year, the company has decided to facilitate US operations. Prior to launching Gitai in 2016 (under its previous name of MacroSpace), the company’s founder Sho Nakanose previously worked for IBM Japan followed by founding an IT services company in India and sold it to an Indian company. Some of our readers may recall that Yuto Nakanishi, a humanoid scientist/engineer and former CEO of Schaft (acquied by Google X), joined Gitai as COO (now CRO, Chief Robot Officer). Gitai secured $4.1 million US in a Series A round in July of 2019 followed by 1.8 billion yen (about $17 million US in the exchange rate at the time) in a Series B round in March of 2021.

Gitai US Office in Los Angeles
Image credit: Gitai

Tokyo-based Gitai, the Japanese telexistance robotics startup for the space industry, announced last week that it has opened an office in Los Angeles for R&D, manufacturing, and business development. The company will begin recruiting project managers as well as various types of engineers in earnest. They had been conducting all business activities in Tokyo until  now. As collaboration with US agencies and private companies like Nanoracks and NASA has increased, including the successful onboard demonstration of their robot to the International Space Station last year, the company has decided to facilitate US operations.

Prior to launching Gitai in 2016 (under its previous name of MacroSpace), the company’s founder Sho Nakanose previously worked for IBM Japan followed by founding an IT services company in India and sold it to an Indian company. Some of our readers may recall that Yuto Nakanishi, a humanoid scientist/engineer and former CEO of Schaft (acquied by Google X), joined Gitai as COO (now CRO, Chief Robot Officer). Gitai secured $4.1 million US in a Series A round in July of 2019 followed by 1.8 billion yen (about $17 million US in the exchange rate at the time) in a Series B round in March of 2021.

Japan’s fashion item rental startup AirCloset files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based fashion item rental startup AirCloset announced on Friday that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on July 29 with plans to offer 733,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 130,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 136,700 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho Securities while AirCloset’s ticker code will be 9557. Its share price range will be released on July 11 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on July 12 and pricing on July 19. The final public offering price will be determined on July 20. Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 870 yen (about $6.5) per share, its market cap is approximately 6.4 billion yen (about $47.5 million). According to its consolidated statement as of June of 2021, the company posted revenue of 2.89 billion yen ($21.4 million) with an ordinary profit of 29.35 million yen ($217,000). Since its launch back in July of 2014, AirCloset has been offering a variety of fashion item rental services. Starting with a monthly subscription-based service delivering outfits coordinated by professional stylists, the…

Image credit: AirCloset

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based fashion item rental startup AirCloset announced on Friday that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved.

The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on July 29 with plans to offer 733,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 130,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 136,700 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho Securities while AirCloset’s ticker code will be 9557.

Its share price range will be released on July 11 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on July 12 and pricing on July 19. The final public offering price will be determined on July 20.

Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 870 yen (about $6.5) per share, its market cap is approximately 6.4 billion yen (about $47.5 million). According to its consolidated statement as of June of 2021, the company posted revenue of 2.89 billion yen ($21.4 million) with an ordinary profit of 29.35 million yen ($217,000).

Since its launch back in July of 2014, AirCloset has been offering a variety of fashion item rental services. Starting with a monthly subscription-based service delivering outfits coordinated by professional stylists, the company launched a physcal store in October of 2016 followed by a monthly subscription-based rental mall service back in April of 2020.

Led by founder and CEO Satoshi Amanuma (17.8%), the company’s major shareholders include Monoful Pte. Ltd. (14.28%), Terrada Warehouse (10.92%), Sumitomo Corporation (10.3%, TSE: 8053) , SIG Asia Fund IV, LLLP (10.30%), Jafco (8.75%, TSE: 8595), managing director Yusuke Maekawa (4.01%), Samurai Incubate (3.50%), managing director Shoichi Kotani (2.06%), SMBC Venture Capital (2.06%), and Nakazono Holdings (2.04%, operator of “White Kyubin” laundry shop chain).

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Japan’s AI-powered contract management startup LegalForce secures $100M+ in series D

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Tokyo-based LegalForce announced on Thursday that it has secured approximately 13.7 billion yen (over $101.6 million US) in a Series D round. The round is led by by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 with participation from Sequoia China, Goldman Sachs, WiL (World Innovaion Lab, Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and others. WiL, Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital followed their previous investment. The latest round brought the startup’s funding sumup to approximately 17.9 billion yen (over $132.8 million US). LegalForce has been offering two SaaS tools: LegalForce and LegalForce Cabinet. LegalForce uses natural language processing and other technologies to offer functions such as reviewing contracts according the type of agreement, detecting clauses that may be omitted or risky in addition to prevent omissions and oversights. Sine its launch back in April of 2019, the service has been serving more than 2,000 companies and law firms. Regarding LegalForce Cabinet, when you upload contracts/documents into it, its artificial intelligence will automatically read titles, names of contracting parties, and contract expiration date to create a ledger of them. As of June, the service is used by over 450 companies.

The LegalForce team
Image credit: LegalForce

Tokyo-based LegalForce announced on Thursday that it has secured approximately 13.7 billion yen (over $101.6 million US) in a Series D round.

The round is led by by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 with participation from Sequoia China, Goldman Sachs, WiL (World Innovaion Lab, Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and others. WiL, Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital followed their previous investment. The latest round brought the startup’s funding sumup to approximately 17.9 billion yen (over $132.8 million US).

LegalForce has been offering two SaaS tools: LegalForce and LegalForce Cabinet.

LegalForce uses natural language processing and other technologies to offer functions such as reviewing contracts according the type of agreement, detecting clauses that may be omitted or risky in addition to prevent omissions and oversights. Sine its launch back in April of 2019, the service has been serving more than 2,000 companies and law firms.

Regarding LegalForce Cabinet, when you upload contracts/documents into it, its artificial intelligence will automatically read titles, names of contracting parties, and contract expiration date to create a ledger of them. As of June, the service is used by over 450 companies.