Former Zynga Japan GM launches ambitious new flea market app


mercari_logoSee also the original story in Japanese.

Shintaro Yamada is a Japanese entrepreneur who previously sold his startup Unoh to Zynga back in August of 2010. The company subsequently became Zynga Japan, and he was named general manager. But in January of 2012, he suddenly quit and started traveling around the world. He returned from his travels this past February, and has now founded a new startup called Kouzoh. The idea has finally been unveiled to the public, a mobile flea market app for Android called Mercari.

The app allows you to take a picture of what you want to sell, and publish it to the marketplace. The buy and sell process happens entirely on your smartphone, and the successful bid is payable via credit card, bank teller, or even at a convenience store counter. An iOS app will be live in a few weeks, we’re told.


The service takes a 10% commission for selling your item. And in order to prevent possible user disputes over money transfers, the startup stands in middle of every single trade between a buyer and a seller.

Kouzoh’s Shintaro Yamada

In this space, we’ve already seen many flea market apps like Fril, Pashaoku, and Listor. Shintaro explained how he expects to differentiate this from existing competitors:

For now, there’s no dominant player in this space. We’d like to present our app as a place where users can buy and sell things with their smartphones safely. We still have many things to do from now, but we have an awesome team, so please stay tuned.

They have not yet set any specific target revenue volume, but the company aspires to transact a total in the range of 50 billion yen to 600 billion yen ($500 million to $6 billion).

But why would Yamada operate a mobile marketplace following his previous experience in the gaming business? He explained that nothing has been changed in terms of his strategy:

My interest is C2C (consumer-consumer) business in a broad sense. It’s one of the leaps that the internet has enabled. I really want to make something innovative in this space. Our company’s mission is to make internet services widely used in the world, and that’s the same goal as my previous company Unoh. It was mobile gaming at that time, but now we’re focusing on a flea market app.

Yamada was born in 1977, and he’s seen as a new-generation serial entrepreneur in Japan, as well as an angel investor. We will keep our eyes on how he progresses from here.