Join Asiajin at Tokyo Biggest Tech Party Ever

For the second year in a row, Asiajin is one of the participating group of the largest tech bōnenkai in Japan, Tokyo Biggest Tech Party Ever.

We had more than 400 people last year, celebrating together during an epic evening. To stir things up a bit this year, we found a better venue and reached out to even more friends at tech/web/entrepreneur communities. Here there are, from venture funding to Mac lovers, from mobile enthusiasts to startup launchers: AppleCertDigital Eve Japan,GreenITersICA JapanMobile in Japan,Mobile Monday TokyoNinjavaOpen Network LabPoken JapanRingo MUG,Startup DatingStartupWeekend Tokyo,TLUGTokyo 2.0Tokyo Beer & BlogTokyo HackerSpaceTokyo PC Users Group,WASForum.

We would love you all to join us.

The event will be held next Monday, Dec 6 in Aoyama, at the モーダポリティカ MODAPOLITICA event space (Google Map / Gmap)

Don’t forget to register and quick as we’re about to close registration due to so many people willing to come.

And while we’ll all be partying, the revenue of the evening will be donated to Beers for Bytes, a charity who helps build tech infrastructure for impoverished people. The more you drink, the more tools we’ll be able to fund. Isn’t that a great way to finish 2010?

Here’s the official announcement, both in English and Japanese:

It’s time once again to bring all of the tribes together for our annual TechXmas event, aka: Tokyo’s Biggest Tech Party Ever. We have nailed an Awesome Venue for the 2010 gig with a larger collection of participating groups and are expecting an even bigger crowd than the 400+ very cool folks who attended our epic mixer last year!

So mark your holiday calendar for December 6th – make sure you register – and use Twitter, Facebookand Plancast to help share the good word

Charity Benefit:
All net proceeds go to Beers for Bytes, an offshoot of the acclaimed
Beers For Books event. The funds will be donated to tech infrastructure for Room to Read, whose focus is on childhood literacy and gender equality in education in developing countries.

Sponsorship Opportunities:
We will also be offering the opportunity for sponsors to donate door prizes or small cash envelopes, so please do drop us a note asap to make arrangements.
sponsor @ tokyobiggesttechpartyever.com

Date: Monday December 6th, from 7-10pm
Venue:
ModapoliticaMap
Fee: ¥2,000 with
Advance Registration – Or – ¥3,000 At The Door **Note Below
Menu: Advance registration comes with a super tasty buffet – while all drinks, including beer, standard mixed or non-alcohol and wine selection, will be cash bar 500jpy each.

**Note: ‘At The Door’ attendees will receive two-drink tickets instead of a food coupon as we need to confirm an accurate buffet estimate in advance.

Participating groups:
AppleCert, Asiajin, Digital Eve Japan, GreenITers, ICA Japan, Mobile in Japan, Mobile Monday Tokyo, Ninjava, Open Network Lab, Poken Japan, RingoMUG, Startup Dating, StartupWeekend Tokyo, Tokyo 2.0, Tokyo Beer & Blog, Tokyo HackerSpace, TLUG, Tokyo PC Users Group, WAS Forum.

Thanks for another fantastic year — We look forward to see you all again soon!

東京最大の技術者仲間のかってないパーティー!

忘年会 2010 - 12月6日 – モ-ダポリティカ

技術者仲間が一同に会して年末恒例のTechXmas event、別名Tokyo’s Biggest Tech Party Everを楽しむ時期がまたやって来ました。主催する多くの関係団体の合議で2010年の集会場として息を呑むような会場が最終決定されました。今年の人数は去年の壮大な交流会に集まった400人超のステキな仲間をさらに上回ると予想しています。

そこで、皆さんはカレンダーの12月6日に上記行事を予定して下さい。その事前登録の確認をお忘れなく。適切な発言の共有に役立つ Twitter, Facebook, Plancast を使いましょう。詳細は下記を参照して下さい。

チャリティ収益:
チャリティ利益の全額は、賞賛を受けている
Beers For Books より分派したBeers for Bytesに寄付されます。寄付された資金は、開発途上国の教育において子供の文盲解消および両性平等に注力するRoom to Readの技術インフラに使われます。

スポンサー募集:
私共主催者は福引の賞品または大入袋を寄付するスポンサーを募集します。希望者は準備が必要なので出来る限り早くその旨を連絡して下さい。
sponsor @ tokyobiggesttechpartyever.com

日時:12月6日(月曜日)午後7時 - 10時
会場:
モ-ダポリティカ(Modapolitica)Map
入場料:前売券=2000円 当日券=3000円**
メニュー:前売券には一流のうまいビュッフェ食事が含まれています。一方、飲み物として、ビール、標準的な選別した洋酒、ワインとソフトドリンクが用意され、バーで一杯500円にて販売します。
**注意:主催者は事前に食事する人数を正確に把握する必要があるので、参加者は受付で食事ク-ポン券の代わりに2枚のドリンク券を受け取ることになります。

参加団体:
AppleCert, Asiajin, Digital Eve Japan, GreenITers, ICA Japan, Mobile in Japan, Mobile Monday Tokyo, Ninjava, Open Network Lab, Poken Japan, RingoMUG, Startup Dating, StartupWeekend Tokyo, Tokyo 2.0, Tokyo Beer & Blog, Tokyo HackerSpace, TLUG, Tokyo PC Users Group, WAS Forum.

すばらしいこの1年に感謝しましょう-- まもなく、皆さんに再会できることを楽しみにしています

On a personal note, I sadly won’t be able to attend, as I’ll be speaking in Paris for LeWeb. Most of the Asiajin team has already confirmed participation, though.

You can follow the official party Twitter account @TBTPE and the Twitter hashtag #tbtpe or follow -and like- the Facebook Page.
You can also announce your participation via Plancast or Facebook.

And, if you’re a photo lover, please share your pictures of the party on Flickr after the event, we would love to have these memories.

Have fun, everyone!

How DeNA Beats Facebook and Zynga

DeNA logo

Do you think Zynga is the hot player in town? Think again.

At yesterday’s DeNA press conference, Founder and CEO Tomoko Nanba gave some great insight behind the seemingly unstoppable success of her company.

An incredible ARPU

With 20m users in Japan, Mobage Town, the social gaming network could be considered a small player compared to the 500m+ users Facebook boasts worldwide or Zynga’s 210m active users (according to AppData). But when it comes down to the average revenue per user (ARPU), the picture is very different.

A whole lot different.

Mobage Town just dwarfs both its international competitors by an incredible margin. Its ARPU is 15 times the one of Zynga. Yes, fifteen times. And -wait for it- 30 times the one of Facebook.

Source: ITMedia

Real billions

You can now tame down you excitement regarding Zynga being valued more than Electronic Arts (the estimation game puts it a USD 5.5bn).

DeNA’s current market cap is over USD 4.2bn. Not in a estimation game, but now.

2009 saw DeNA’s make USD 500m in revenue, with a profit of 228m (that’s a staggering 44%).

In Q1 2010, the company announced almost USD 280m in revenue with around 140m in profit (an even more staggering 50%).

Make the quick calculation: DeNA is on track of the magic 1bn number and more for the end of the year.

With “only” 20m users.

Social Graph v. Virtual Graph

Now, I used the word competitor earlier for Facebook, but Nanba doesn’t think it is really one. She mentioned how Mobage Town and Mixi are peacefully co-existing in Japan. The latter is based on the social graph, a la Facebook, while her company is skewing towards what she calls the virtual graph.

I guess we could differentiate the two out of the nature of relationships that are created through the online experience: mostly mimicking the physical graph one on hand, while creating a totally new one on the other.

Nanda is betting that that virtual graph is the future of the mobile gaming market internationally as well, hence the decision to go and buy ngmoco last month.

At USD 403m, I’d say she made her point.

Her idea is that DeNA will bring its know-how and the virtual-based communities western social gaming is in dire need of to grow.

To get an idea of that possible know-how, let’s go back into numbers and look at the revenue segmentation. 78% is coming from what she calls social media. I preferred the older name: portal marketing. It better qualified what it encompasses: item billing, moba-coins acquisition & in-game advertising. Add 12% of avatar-related sales and you basically have 90% of the company built upon virtual goods.

Can Zynga say the same? I bet not yet.

2014 in sight

Nanba is slowly completing the full puzzle.

She has the keitai world covered. She’s racing to enter the smartphone world abroad (she called the iOS/Android application the greatest current business opportunity in her speech). She’s bringing the Mobage Town on smartphones in Japan soon. She has a foot in the US. A foot in China. An investment arm for new disruptive ventures. And she finally has the japanese PC world covered.

Yes, for a company that failed on the PC front for long, the bonus in the story is the relative success of its Yahoo! Japan joint ventureYahoo! Mobage Town. Officially opened not even a month ago, membership has rocketed past the 8 million mark.

The financial goal of all this?

400 billion yen in consolidated sales for 2014. That’s more than 4 times the USD 1bn I made you calculate above.

Honestly, Nanba’s prediction is entirely realistic to me.

Twitter Japan Releases Email Notification

Twitter Japan is finally getting up to speed on how people communicate with their mobile phones in Japan.

Contrary to what people think, SMS does exist in Japan. It’s just not used. It never had a real chance, having been buried by e-mail, which became the standard texting communication channel between users on their keitai.

You see, SMS specifications -drafted when bandwidth constraints were high- allow for 140 bytes, that’s 140 8-bit characters for Latin languages, 160 7-bit characters for English, but only 70 16-bit characters for Japanese input, very limiting. Plus, as e-mail was becoming widely adopted, Japanese carriers never bothered looking into interoperability: you still cannot send an SMS from DoCoMo to KDDI -even if that may change, maybe even at the end of this year.

To palliate for SMS, mobile subscribers get a @docomo.ne.jp, @softbank.ne.jp or, if you’re on an iPhone, a @i.softbank.jp email address which will let you communicate with your network and let service providers contact -or spam- you.

No MMS adoption nightmare. Media-rich out of the box.

Back to Twitter. In the USA and a few other countries in the world, Twitter can be linked with SMS. It means you can get selected updates from accounts you follow pushed to you via text.

You see the issue in Japan. No SMS, no notification.

So, earlier this week, Twitter Japan released a new feature specially built for Japan: e-mail notifications.

To activate the service, one can go to the mobile-ready (and Japan-specific) page twtr.jp, go to settings and add the mobile email where the updates will be pushed to.

This also works from the web interface. If you access it from an international interface, you’ll realize that twitter.com/devices lacks Japan as an option.

Now, access the same menu from the Japanese interface and you’ll see the email notifications.

After the email validation is done, Twitter kindly offers you time limits, so it won’t disturb your sleep.

Twitter Japan is seeking feedback on this feature. You can follow the official Twitter Japan account @TWJ to give your 2 cents. Err. 140 characters.

Will DeNA Crack The Japanese Code For International Expansion?

DeNA, the company behind one of the big three social networking sites in Japan, Mobage-Town (20m users in Japan), cannot be clearer on its current strategy.

It’s called international expansion.

Everyone is abuzz of today’s acquisition of Ngmoco, an US iPhone game developer for a staggering USD 400m.

The big tide in social gaming is coming, right now. We’d like to capture it and quickly become the world’s No. 1 mobile gaming platform

says Tomoko Namba, founder and CEO.

Wow. But let’s roll back in time for a minute. DeNA Global business initiatives actually started in July 2006 with the creation of its Beijing subsidiary, which launched Jia Jia Cheng, a Chinese Mobage-Town, the following year. In January 2008, the company established DeNA Global, its full-fledged international arm. Its location was not innocent: San Mateo, California.

True to its core business, MobaMingle was released the same year with more than USD 3m investment. A virtual community for mobile phones. Avatars, friends, games, blogging. A Mobile Game Town (i.e. Mobage-Town) for the US and Europe (and India a bit later), in short.

I can’t say it was mind blowingly successful, especially due to the lack of those flash-based mobile games that gave it traction in Japan. Or simply because we’re talking about markets that never got used to flash-based mobile gaming. Or even more simply since not all handsets were actually supporting Flash in the first place.

150,000 members (March 2009) might not have been braking any record, but it was a good exercise in testing the international waters.

Intelligently sensing the move towards an application-based phone ecosystem, DeNA brought its games and community to the iPhone/iPad last May. Just for its overseas users. An iteration of MobaMingle of sorts, if you want.

And things were going faster on all fronts.

DeNA took a 20% stake in the gaming platform Aurora Feint -a Ngmoco competitor- last year to facilitate distribution. It acquired IceBreaker, a US-based game publisher a few months later. Then bought Astro Ape Studios then Gameview Studios, two US-based game developers, this year. Then set up a USD 27.5m investment fund. And now that 400m deal.

USD 403m actually. 303m to be paid in November, 100m more depending on Ngmoco 2011 earnings.

403m. That makes it the world’s largest mobile social gaming platform. Or so they say [full press release in English].

403m for what? Unlocking that elusive international market.

The company plans to integrate Ngmoco’s social platform which plays nicely with both iOS and Android phones. Read that again. Or read this from the founders:

ngmoco will lead DeNA’s efforts in the Western world, including launching a new western smartphone version of the incredibly successful Social Games Network, Mobage (we say “Mo-ba-gae”) that we’re building together with DeNA.

DeNA is smart. It’s talking about OpenMobage, a platform. iPhone, Android, keitai. That’s key. If the company is able to create such a thing on mobile -think how Zynga used Facebook’s platform for its growth-, then it has a shot at being very successful.

And remember, the company’s revenue estimates for this year are about USD 1bn. That’s as much as Facebook. Good firing power, heh?

Becoming the premier [global] social gaming company appears extremely feasible

I want to believe Tomoko Namba, DeNA’s CEO. Really. But the list of Japanese tech companies that have successfully ventured abroad is dramatically short. Last time such noticeable investment happened was more than 5 years ago when Japanese mobile content giant Index Holdings bought Seattle-based Mobliss and 123 Multimedia. Or, closer to the numbers we’re talking today, when For-side bought iTouch, a mobile content provider.

Right. No one remembers.

Hence, only one name comes to mind. Rakuten.

Its acquisition of Buy.com for USD 250m -with a relatively weaker yen- is too recent to pass any judgement. But it’s one story that will allow us all to judge how Japan will do abroad this time.

What will it be?