Japanese companies form new $300M investment fund to target promising startups

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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 [1].

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.

The investment fund was founded by Japanese venture capitalist Gen Isayama, who previously worked at the investment firm DCM, where he invested in Renren, a social network service in Mainland China. According to his recent Facebook posting, this new effort was made possible by working with co-founding members Shiichi Saijo and Masataka Matsumoto [2].

  1. Innovation Network Corporation of Japan is the country’s state-run initiative for investing in innovative activities and companies.
  2. Shinichi Saijo was previously the CEOs of CyberAgent Ventures and CyberAgent America. He was appointed director at Japanese payment startup Coiney earlier this year, and has been helping Japanese startups expand their businesses. Masataka Matsumoto co-founded a web service company called P.I.M. in late 1990 and sold it off to Yahoo Japan back in 2000. He has held several executive posts at the portal company for almost ten years, but quit in 2012.