Japanese newspaper giant Asahi Shimbun buys ‘owned media’ marketing startup Somewrite



This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese.

The Asahi Shimbun, a leading national newspaper publisher in Japan, announced on Thursday that it will acquire the entire stake in Somewrite, a Japanese content marketing and “owned media” production startup. The purchase will be completed in late April when all the shares from Somewrite founder and Chairman Yasunari Shibata, COO Satoru Ikedo, Soraseed Startups and Gree Ventures are transferred to the Asahi side. Soraseed Startups is an investment fund owned by Shibata.

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed but it is estimated to be around several million US dollars, comparing to the amount of the previous funding back in October of 2014. Soraseed is also an investor along with Gree Ventures, Incubate Fund and B Dash Ventures in Spika, a startup behind nail art photo app Nailbook.

Since September 2013, Somewrite has been offering outsourced ‘owned media’ content production services for about 100 major companies in total, ranging from HR firm Adecco to beermaker Sapporo Breweries.

Somewrite Ad, the company’s native advertising network platform, picks up advertorial articles from owned media sites and distributes them to other partnering news media sites as a native ad so that these articles match the form with other regular articles in which they are placed. The platform has a tracking engine which learns the preference of users in real time.

After the acquisition, Somewrite Chairman Shibata and COO Ikedo will remain on the board of directors and continue managing the company while Asahi Shimbun will dispatch a director from their side.

According to Ikki Yamakawa, senior administrator of Asahi’s Media Lab startup collaboration initiative, the media giant will restructure their Advertisement Department in May to form a Media Business Department where they will start offering owned media marketing services to clients alongside with existing ad products, with the support from the Somewrite team.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

From the left: Somewrite Chairman Yasunari Shibata and COO Satoru Ikedo