Japan’s Spectee, news video aggregator for press, snags $2.3M series B for global push

Image credit: Spectee

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Spectee, the startup behind the artificial intelligence(AI)-powered platform offering news materials based on social media analytics, announced today that it has fundraised 260 million yen (about $2.3 million US) in a series B round. This round was led by YJ Capital with participation from Kyodo News Images, Mizuho Capital, Arco Partners, Quaras (an ad agency of Japanese media conglomerate Fuji Sankei Group), Makoto Naruke (former president of Microsoft Japan, angel investor now), and an unnamed angel investor. This follows the company’s series A round conducted back in July of 2016.

Spectee was founded in February of 2014 (previously Euclid Lab), and it graduated in October of 2015 from the 11th batch of Open Network Lab’s incubation program. The team has been offering a service called Spectee (previously known as Newsdeck), curating images and video clips for live events from social media and offering copyright clearance for use by broadcasters and news organizations, similar to Banjo in the US. A patent has been filed for the AI technology for analyzing curated image and video clips.

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Image credit: Spectee

In Japan, Spectee is currently serving almost 100 companies including 86 TV broadcasters plus 4 newspaper publishers, such as Nippon TV, TV Asahi, TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System), Fuji TV and Yomiuri Shimbun. We were told that they have a project collaboratively being worked on with a certain Japanese public broadcaster but details were not disclosed. As a news distributor based on the social media-based aggregation technique, the company claims it has a 92% market share in Japan based on the number of clients.

In June, Spectee launched news video distribution via Associated Press’ Video Hub targeting the global market, seeing a steady growth and trying to expand it further. The company also got a subscriptions contract with New York Times because of the partnership with the global news agency. Kenjiro Murakami, co-founder and CEO of Spectee, told The Bridge that they expect sales expansion through news material sales on the global market while securing stable revenue through subscriptions contracts with media companies and news publishers in Japan.

Murakami explained:

With the personnel in Berlin and Los Angeles in addition to Tokyo, we are running a 24-hour nonstop operations such as the distribution of news materials on platform and gaining approvals from social media users who posted images of live events that are likely to be used by news media outfits.

However, video editing and distributing operations are still centralized to our Tokyo office. Because of a fierce competition with other news video providers on AP Video Hub, we want to increase the operating weight at overseas locations to provide news materials as fresh as possible. To make this possible, we expect to focused on securing new staffers at these locations.

AP Video Hub
Associated Press

Spectee is now selling video materials to 33 markets, including the US, UK, Thailand and Brazil in order from the top. The company’s global sales still depends on AP Video Hub but Spectee is considering build-up of their own video sales portal for global media publishers because the agreement with Associated Press is not exclusive.

It is interesting to see how they can expand globally from here.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy