Japan’s SmartNews invites former WSJ Online executive on board, poised for US expansion

Kaisei Hamamoto
The SmartNews team: CEO Kaisei Hamamoto (1st from the left),
Managing director Ken Suzuki (2nd from the left), Operating officer Atsuo Fujimura (in the middle),
Newly appointed VP for content Rich Jaroslovsky (3rd from the right). Picture from Picsy Blog

Tokyo-based SmartNews, the company behind mobile news curation app under the same name, recently announced that the company has surpassed 4 million downloads in the Japanese market and plans to introduce the North American edition of the app this coming fall, to start serving mobile users in partnership with news media companies in the US and Canada.

Prior to launching it, SmartNews invited former Bloomberg tech columnist Rich Jaroslovsky on board as the vice president for content. He has been serving The Wall Street Journal in many roles including the first managing editor for its online edition. SmartNews is expected to strengthen its business development efforts leveraging his vast network in the US news media industry.

Particularly looking at the happenings in the Japanese blogosphere, there are rumors that SmartNews raised about $18 million from Japanese internet giant Gree. But this is not yet confirmed by any official source. Some people say that the company might use the funds to intensify promotion campaigns including their commercial that they recently started broadcasting (see video below).

On a related note, another Japanese news app company Gunosy launched the international version in the US and UK markets several months ago. The company has fundraised about a total amount of $24 million since the beginning of this year.