Agile Media Network raises $1M

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Agile Media Network raised a $1M investment from Ant Capital Partners on March 31st. They use the investment to develop new software systems.

Agile Media Network is a Japanese ad-network / blog marketing company for blogs and social media which was established in February 2007. They sell ads of many Japanese top blogs such as Netafull.

They expect first monthly profit in March 2009.

Disclosure: Motohiko Tokuriki, CEO of Agile Media Network, is an advisor of Asiajin.

via Venture View [JP]

NTT Com Buys Digital Forest For $24M

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NTT Communications annouced yesterday to acquire 100% shares of Digital Forest for 2.46 billion yen ($24M).

Digital Forest is a company which focuses on Web marketing technology and solutions. They sell an access log analysis tool Visionalist for high-end customers, and also provide web / search engine consulting and solutions service too.

NTT Communications is one of the world’s biggest telecommunications companies, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone.

This deal is good news for Japanese startup industry. Acquiring tech startup by old big company is considered unusual deal in Japan. Also, deal amount is usually not disclosed, even if that kind of deal happens.

See Also:

  1. March 25, 2009: NTT Com and Digital Forest to Develop Web Analytics Solutions

via Venture View [JP]

Mixi holds “mixi Appli Conference” on April 23rd

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Mixi holds “mixi Appli Conference 2009” [JP] to promote their new app service on April 23rd in Shinagawa, Tokyo.

Speakers are:

  • Kenji Kasahara, CEO of Mixi Inc.
  • Akinori Harada, VP, Mixi Division, of Mixi Inc.
  • Koichiro Tsujino, President of Google Japan.
  • Makoto Asanuma, VP of Namco Bandai Games Inc.
  • Minoru Kimura, Head of Media Technology Labs at Recruit Co., Ltd.
  • Jia Shen, CTO and Founder of RockYou, Inc.

Mixi has already disclosed their app service API for companies under the NDA from November 2008.

In early April, they will launch a beta version of Mixi Appli. Also they will release the API for personal developers too.

Mixi Bans Their Users From Dating

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Social network service Mixi banned users from dating.

Mixi changed their terms of policy on December 1st, in accordance with the “Dating site regulation act”. They are now prohibiting users from “using Mixi mainly to meet with strangers of the other sex”.

Recently, Mixi has deleted many groups which hold group dating or offline meetings.

The decision might also have been influenced by the recent lowering of the minimum age limit for users from 18 to 15.  To be certified as a  “safe site” which can be used by minors from a cellphone without filtering, they had to delete all dating groups from the site.

Japan has already been suffering from very low birth rate, but the National Police Agency wants Japanese to refrain from dating. Very very silly. Is it constitutional to restrict people from dating online?

via J-CAST [JP]

RubyKaigi2009 Conference CFP Closes Soon

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RubyKaigi2009 now calls for presentations. Deadline is March 15th.

RubyKaigi2009 is the Japan’s annual Ruby conference.

Previously, Dave Thomas and David Heinemeier Hansson gave key notes at the conference. Ofcourse Ruby’s father Matz talks every year.

This year, the conference will be held from July 17th to 19th in Tokyo.

Don’t miss the opportunity to promote your project to Japanese Ruby community. Also it is a great opportunity to meet with Ruby core developers.

Lang-8 Raises Angel Round Just Under 10M Yen

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Lang-8, a multi-lingual social network / language-learning site, has raised 9,570,000 yen ($100K) from prominent angel investors:

* Kiyoshi Nishikawa, a founder of ngi group
* Takashi Yoshida, ex-CTO of Rakuten
* Masahide Nakamura [JP], CEO of Allied Architects
* Shuichi Takenaga, CEO of Aucfan [JP]

CEO, Youyou Ki, is going to use the investment to improve Lang-8’s usability.

via Venture Now [JP]

Laptop users plugging in at stations risk police visit

In US airports, many people can be seen using their laptops plugged in to nearby outlets. If you do that in Japan, you could be arrested by the police.

In February 2004, a man using a power outlet in Nagoya Station was questioned by railroad police. The case was reported to the prosecutor’s office as a theft of one cent worth of electricity. It is not known whether the man was prosecuted or not.

In September 2008, a university student charging her cellphone in Sagamihara Station was questioned by the police. In this case, a passerby had reported the “incident”. The student was reprimanded, but was later released without charge.

A blogger reported [JP] that Haneda Airport uses non-standard power outlets (NEMA L5 receptacles) instead of standard Japanese outlets. He suspects that the airport authority wants to prevent travelers from “stealing” electricity.

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Japanese society sometimes enforces minor rules too strictly and resists societal changes, but not everyone is opposed to change. JR Shinkansen bullet trains now offer power outlets to all window seat passengers and all first-class passengers on their new N700 series trains.