Japan’s HiNative Q&A app for language learning hits 3.4M registered users, raises $6M

Lang-8 CEO Yangyang Xi at his new office in Ebisu, Tokyo
Image credit: Takeshi Hirano

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Lang-8, the company behind a Q&A app for language learning called HiNative, announced on Wednesday that it has fundraised 650 million yen (around $5.8 million US) from YJ Capital, Daiwa Corporate Investment, and FFG Venture Business Partners, along with individual investor Kotaro Chiba. The payment was completed in August of this year. Other details, such as the investment ratios, were not released.

As of August 2018 there are 3.41 million registered users on the HiNative app. This is nearly 17 times the amount related 2 years ago when we interviewed the company. According to Lang-8 CEO Yangyang Xi the current number of questions posed has reached 8.54 million and the number of responses totals 27,760,000. These numbers have also increased nearly tenfold compared to two years ago.

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Much as Stack Overflow and Yahoo Answers, it is desirable for Q&A services that provide open answers to offer both the “flow experience” where responses can appear immediately and the “stock experience” where answers close to a users’ query pop up on demand after searching.

To elaborate on such services, when I search for a phrase, in many cases it turns up owned content such as English speaking services on Skype. HiNative has reached a milestone because its search results are open, so the access to them will help the company to stand out in each country. Access to this web index is about 6 million unique users a month.

The company has a wide reach with 110 supported languages in 240 regions, and fast answers to questions posed via the flow experience appear in less than a few minutes. It has built up a community that is able to provide some form of an answer within an hour, and the knowhow garnered from Lang-8 is a big help here. The funds raised this time around will be used to further increase the overseas use rate, and to strengthen the management and development teams, which are currently consist of 10 employees, as well as to further strengthen the company’s marketing activities.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda