The competition among news technology startups is heating up. Yesterday, we brought you the first part of our interview with Shinji Kimura, who just joined a leading news technology startup, Gunosy. In this second part, he talks about the company’s competitors, as well as his own goals as an entrepreneur.
The Bridge: There are several competitors in this field. How will you stand apart from them all?
Kimura: Gunosy made it possible for users to get useful information without having to search for it for it on the internet. News was the first step. But the next step could be other content like books, music, or great images. E-commerce is now more personalized as well. We could help bring content from any field to users.
The Bridge: You are expanding beyond news?
Kimura: We have a chance to access to all kinds of content. We could develop an efficient matching system that spans the world, by building a great team with the necessary expertise. If we can do this, we could see a form of consumption nobody has ever imagined before. Connecting dots, as Steve Jobs said, will be realized in the field of recommendation technology. Ultimately this sort of thing has potential to make people happier.
The Bridge: Amazon recommends users items based on what they previously bought. And Gunosy recommends based on users’ interests, right?
Kimura: People often misunderstand this, but we don’t recommend articles based on what users’ friends have shared. We don’t do that. What we want to do is to try to copy the users’ mind based on interests. That’s why sometimes articles the user has already read the previous day are recommended.
The Bridge: Gunosy is growing rapidly. But I have the impression that there is still room to add entertainment value. Is there any possibility for such an entertainment feature in the future? Perhaps implementing a real-time function?
Kimura: Basically user interests are not updated real-time, so that’d be a difficult feature to implement. I hear that a lot of users use a variety of services, each for a different purpose. So naturally it’d be more convenient if they could be integrated into just one service.
The morning edition and the evening edition of newspapers is a good representation of readers’ daily activities. [Giving consideration to time], it could be interesting to provide recipes from Cookpad before lunch time. I think that this kind of feature can add an entertainment value to the service.
The Bridge: To what extent are you planning to scale up this business?
Kimura: We have to carefully look at the actions of competitors and major companies, and try to take action at the right time. There will be a lot of things young members in their 20s cannot imagine. I have business experiences both in startups and big companies. So I think my role here in Gunosy is to help young members think beyond their existing frames of view.
The Bridge: The executive team will be built based on your network as well?
Kimura: I am talking to some people who have startup experiences. Possibly some people who are well known in the startup field will join our team. […] Considering that existing competitors are already big, we need to pump human and capital resources at this stage. I had difficulty doing that in my past starup experience, so this time I will take advantage of my experiences and execute rather boldly. Japan needs big technology companies like Google and Facebook, a place where young talents can work. Our generation needs to establish a 1 trillion-yen company which can be passed to the next generation.
The Bridge: Thank you for your time.