Japan’s Dentsu Ventures invests in SF-based cloud-first phone developer Nextbit



See the original story in Japanese.

Dentsu Ventures, a corporate venture capital of the Japanese ad agency Dentsu (TSE:4324), announced today that it has invested an undisclosed sum in San Francisco-based Nextbit Systems, the developer of cloud-first Android phone Robin. For Dentsu Ventures, this follows investments in MIT-based robotics startup Jibo ($3 million) and NYC-based curated content publishing platform Agolo (undisclosed sum) in August.

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Nextbit’s Robin smartphone syncs music, movie, app, and photo files in the handset with an online cloud storage without imposing a special operation on the user. The company started a Kickstarter campaign on 1 September, and has fundraised almost double the initial goal of $500,000 with a half month remaining.

The investment strategy of Dentsu Ventures is not clear. However, in view of how they have dealt with all three previous cases, they target technology-oriented startups offering great potential of global expansion seeking a seed to series B round investment. Unlike budding corporate venture capital funds where their deal sourcing typically depend on co-investments with other VC firms, the members of Dentsu Ventures are searching the world to find good startups to invest in. Since the acquisition of Aegis Group in 2013, Dentsu’s global sales have exceeded their domestics sales in Japan. Foreign digital agencies in their group, represented by Isobar, may also contribute to intelligence gathering of Dentsu Ventures.

For Nextbit, the latest funds follow $18 million funds from Accel Partners and Google Ventures in January 2014.

Edited by Kurt Hanson