How a Japanese stealth startup plans to push small business accounting to the cloud



Tokyo-based startup CFO K.K. today unveiled a cloud-based accounting solution called Freee, a service that aims to set SME owners free from routine accounting. For such business owners to complete tasks that need to be approved by a taxation office, you need knowledge of commercial book-keeping. But this can be time consuming and usually is not possible on tablets or Macintosh laptops [1].

By synchronizing your account on this cloud system with web services provided by banks and credit companies [2], your payments will be transferred to the system with web-scraping technology and sorted into appropriate categories corresponding to the items you’ve purchased. The system also has a feature that allows you to print out a final return form for your income tax, which meets the requirement taxation offices in Japan. The startup is expecting to develop more features, adding an API to connect with third-party services, and optimizing browsing for multiple devices.


CFO K.K. was founded in July of 2012 by ex-Googler Daisuke Sasaki and ex-Sony engineer Ryu Yokoji. They’ve been developing the service as a stealth project at their home, and fundraised 50 million yen (about $523,000) from notable US-based VC firm DCM in December. The startup’s CEO previously served as the CFO of a web company where he witnessed that the company accountants were always tired from time-consuming tasks. This prompted him to launch Free to address this problem.

CFO K.K.’s CEO Daisuke Sasaki

It’s a freemium service, allowing you to share and manage the accounting records of your company with two other colleagues. All paid plans are available for free until June, as the startup hopes to acquire at least 10,000 SME in its first year. In this field of accounting services for SMEs, freelancers, and consumers, I can think of more than a dozen prominent players. Expect intense competition, and maybe some mergers and acquisitions in the not-so-distant future.

  1. Most of Japanese accounting software packages are intended for use on Windows PCs only.  ↩
  2. Regarding account aggregation, Freee can pull passbook or payment records from 15 financial institutions as of the time of its release.  ↩