My Time for Sale: Ex-web Designer Girl Exposes Her 24/7 On The Web

Jibunya 24's Logo

Rie Tomimoto(冨本梨恵) is Jibunya 24[J], where she sells her time, does anything her clients ask excluding some exceptions, and blog what she does mostly everyday. She is a 33-year-old ex-web designer, and lives in the west suburban city of Tokyo. Unlike Chen Xiao(陈潇)[C] who does the similar things in Beijing, Rie runs the website not for making her living, but for sharing joys with her friends and other bloggers.

Jibunya 24's Website Image

Rie‘s website is a mash-up of popular web2.0 services including Flickr, Twitter, Google Map and Google Calendar, and it shows you where and what she is doing, and also allows you to check up her availability in coming days if you ask her something.

She hopes her this activity help self-employed people to find more efficient way to use their free times for earning money, who often perplex to their workload deflection and want to equalize it.

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Jason Calacanis meets Japanese Bloggers in Tokyo

Jason Calacanis, a big name in Silicon Valley (founder of Weblogs and Mahalo, legendary blogger,VC etc.) visited Japan last week for the first time. We had dinner with him and with other famous Japanese bloggers.

Japan’s best-known bloggers attended this dinner meeting, including Dan Kogai (who is also the ex-CTO of Livedoor), Masato Kogure from Netafull, Masaki Ishitani from Mitaimon [J], Motohiko Tokuriki who started Agile Media Network, Japanese Bloggers Ad Networks, some TechCrunch Japan staff, Asaijin writers, and others.

(Photo by Serkan Toto)

The dinner was held at a Japanese restaurant called “Gonpachi” in Tokyo’s NishiAzabu district. This restaurant is known as the place where President George Bush met with former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. It also inspired Quentin Tarantino, in his film “Kill Bill: Vol.1“, to create a similar restaurant named Aobaya used as the locale for the impressive scene where Uma Thurman slices hundreds of people with a Japanese sword.

Here are responses from some of the other guests who enjoyed the night with Calacanis:

Tokyotronic: Jason Calacanis, Japan’s super bloggers and entrepreneurs plus myself

Netafull: The founder of Weblog Inc. Jason Calacanis recommends these iPhone Apps[J]

Akky Akimoto: I met with Jason Calacanis[J]

Masaru Ikeda: Drinking with Jason Calacanis and Bloggers[J]

and me,

Fool on the Web: I met with Jason Calacanis[J]

Jason introduced us to a couple of interesting iPhone Apps and in the end he was playing Ocarina for the iPhone by Smule with Masato Kogure.

He was also discussing with Motohiko Tokuriki what the ideal relationship is between advertising and bloggers as he wrote in his article: Ad Networks Are For Losers.

As for me, he asked whether I had watched the Japanese film “Ikiru” by Akira Kurosawa. Unfortunately I hadn’t. He was surprised by my answer and said that it was one of his favorite films. He said that it was a classic masterpiece. Then Jason outlined the movie for me.

“There is a man who only stamps and signs documents. It’s a useless job. One day he is notified that he has a very short time to live. He is dying from a grave illness. He realizes he has not done anything worthwhile in his life. So he decides to do something meaningful… Now you need to watch the film to see what happens afterwards.”

It seems that it’s quite an interesting film that might have affected Jason’s view of life.

There is also a blog posting by Umihiko Namekawa who served as a guide for Jason during his stay in Tokyo.

Jason Calacanis’ Sayings in Tokyo[J]

“Raise money when the economy is booming and improve products when the economy is in a slump.”

“The blogging system was already ready in the mid 90s. Do you know why the blog started to boom in the early years of this decade? Because by the end of the dot.com bubble the number of geeks who had lost their jobs and who had a lot of time to waste had increased. That’s the reason Flickr became an instant hit.”

Namekawa says that after Jason said “Tokyo’s subway is as complex as New York’s”, they talked up a storm about the movie Taking of Pellam 123.

He also quotes some other interesting words by Jason.

“The really disruptive innovations occur when the economy is down. I definitely think the same thing will happen within the next few years.

Evan Williams meets Japanese Twitter Users in Tokyo

Twitter Founder Evan Williams is visiting Tokyo. During his summer vacation a party was held among Japanese twitter fans and developers named “Eban Uiriamusu shi wo Kakomu Kai(A meeting to surround Mr. Evan Williams)”.

Evan Williams
Evan Williams

He discussed with Japanse fans and developers for 90 minuites. Answering questions by questions.

These are couple questions made from Japanase fans. Here is one series of conversation.

Twitter user: I hit my follow limit. Now I need to use 2 accounts. Could you remove this limit?

Evan Williams: Can you read all twit you’re following? Do you remember all users you’re following?

Twitter user: No. But I really love twitter and enjoy it fully.

Evan Williams: Yes, I understand. But I think most of people is enough with that limit. To satisfy majority of the people we need to do something for them (to make the system stable).

Twitter user: …Ah…O.K. But I will pay a monthly charge if necessary. I can pay 500 yen (about 4.5 USD) per month.

Evan Williams: Well, we are not thinking to charge because we think it will cost more to charge. The amount will be earned by charging will be less than the cost to charge it. We have some ideas about monetizing and one of that is to charge for commercial users.

Twitter started Japanse service from April, 2008 after announcing a business tie-up with Digital Garage. According to the analysis made with Google Insights for Search, Japanese users have a hightest interest in the world.

Twitter and Digital Garage are thinking by optimizing to Japanese mobile browsers Twitter usage can be boosted more. Several companies starting Twitter clone services in Japan and even Mixi, the largest SNS in Japan introduced Twitter clone function for trial named “Mixi Minna no Echo“. CNET Japan interviewd to Evan Williams how he think about it and he answered “We’re not pleased about it“.

See Also:

Party announcement on Twitter Japan official blog [J]

Party photos by digitalbear

Meeting Report 1, 2, 3, 4 [J]

Famous venture capitalists in Japan

Here is a concise list of famous venture capitalists in the Japanese IT industry.

Soichi Kariyazono (仮屋薗 聡一) of Globis Capital Partners has a fantastic track record. Six companies out of 13 companies he invested in, like Works applications, are now listed. Kariyazono is an investor in Gree, a social network site which is partnering with AU.

Ryu Muramatsu (村松 竜) of GMO Venture Partners is running a ‘Blog Business Fund’ which focuses on Web 2.0 ventures. Muramatsu had founded Payment-one, an Internet payment provider, which got successfully listed. Probably the only VC with an entreprenuerial record in Japan.

Allen Miner, CEO of Sunbridge, is listed as at #40 in Forbes ranking of venture capitalists in the world. He invested in Salesforce and ITMedia.

Hisashi Katsuya (勝屋 久) of IBM Venture Capital Group, and Masashi Kobayashi (小林 雅) of Infinity Ventures are probably the most frequently blogging VCs in Japan.

Cyberagent, an Internet ad agency, also has a great investing track record. They invested in Mixi, OKWave, and Drecom. Their powerful sales force helped many venture companies such as Webmoney or Drecom.

Also there are bigger and older VC firms such as JAFCO, NIFSMBC, JAIC. Their employees are considered more conservative and do not appear in the media or blogosphere.

If I forgot to mention your favorite venture capitalist, please leave a comment!

See Also: (in Japanese)

  1. Venture-za VC interview articles
  2. A blog of Ryu Muramatsu
  3. A blog of Hisashi Katsuya
  4. A blog of Masashi Kobayashi

Tokyo2point0: HTML 5, ONGMAP, Web Trendmap v3

On Tuesday, the monthly Tokyo2point0 event in Omotesandou/Tokyo was held for the 8th time. The venue was really packed. Andrew Shuttleworth (the organizer) told me he would love to see more people to RSVP before coming. Also, companies can contact Andrew directly for sponsorship to help the volunteers currently running the event.

You can sign up directly on the Tokyo2point0 site itself, go to Tokyo2point0’s Facebook group or get some information on Mixi.

Besides the (very important) networking part, the event mainly focused on three presentations. Two of them were English only. Judging from what I have seen, the Japanese people present were able to follow the speakers without problems though.

1) HTML 5
Michael Smith from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) delivered a detailed speech about HTML 5. Mike talked about the changes the fifth major revision of the Web’s main language will bring.

Michael Smith HTML 5

(all pictures in this posting courtesy of my friend Professor Ichinohe)

The core issue HTML 5 addresses is the problem of interoperability between browsers. The W3C is working to determine conformant user agent/Web browser behavior to overcome one of the biggest obstacles Web developers are faced with nowadays.

The new HTML version is still a draft. Michael was expectedly not able to predict precisely when all advantages HTML 5 delivers will come into effect.

(This presentation was off-the-record so the video will not be published.)

2) ONGMAP
Yuki Naotori from Open Associates/7ns presented his Award-winning Google maps mash up “ONGMAP”.

Yuki Naotori ONGMAP

ONGMAP is thankfully also available in English. The service is describing itself as being the sum of “Google Maps+Web API+Tons of Geo Data”. Yuki said he wanted to create a very easy-to-use Web site.

Users can click on an area of interest on ONGMAP and the service scrapes various info about that particular place from external sources. Depending on the country, this info may include:

– weather
– WiFi spots
– local events
– hotels, restaurants, schools, convenience stores, beauty salons (!) and much more
– videos
– etc. etc.

Yuki also talked about his new project called “Japaaan”. In essence, Japaaan is a social network for people interested in discovering Japan’s “hidden” and cool tourist spots. Moreover, members will also meet offline and actually travel to selected sites. Gaijin and Japanese people are invited to join.

You can view Yuki’s presentation slides here.

Watch his presentation here.

3) Trendmap
My Swiss friend Oliver Reichenstein from Information Architects caused a great stir last year in the Web world with what inititally was a joke. His company basically used the Tokyo metro map as a design background to display the relationship between Web services worldwide. Oliver told me he wanted to use this idea for the company name cards and later was overwhelmed by the huge international interest in his concept!

Oliver Reichenstein Information Architects trendmap

The map illustrates popularity, success, importance and other factors of about 200 Web sites from all countries. You can download the second version (from July 2007) here for free (PDF).

Oliver explained the yet-to-be released third and updated version of the Web trendmap. This time, Information Architects decided to go for an isometric approach.

Watch his presentation here.

Japan’s No.1 blogger declared to stop her blog

Famous actress Chinatsu Wakatsuki, age 23, whose weblog boasts over 80 million page views per month, announced an end of her blog yesterday.

Chinatsu Wakatsuki blog

Last month she once implied about her blog’s end and caused a lot of reactions from her readers and media, which ended up to her apology for confusion, but it became real this time. Real reasons to retirement are not actually disclosed on her last post. She wrote it is not her retirement from show business, but only stops blogging “to do something else”.

Ameba blog’s celebrities section is providing blog hosting to over 1,100 Japanese celebrities, and gets 450 million page views per month. Although their free blog hosting service is not the most popular one for regular bloggers, CyberAgent has been leading to other Cocolog, Yaplog, livedoor blog, etc in this (probably) most influencial category.

Those blog system providers(such like bloggers.com and typepad.com in US) often buys popular celebtiries bloggers out of others. Officially, those companies earns from advertisement on the blogs. Since some top celebrities bloggers recommendations let apparel and cosmetic products sold out nationwide, there are rumors of hidden pay-per-post-like activities behind.

Relatively speaking, Japanese Internet users tend to follow mass media’s influences, TV, newspapers and magazines. The web is not an alternative but a cooperator/supplement. For example, Agile Media Network(AMN), bloggers network advertising agency such like Federated Media, keeps opinionated A-listers in Japanese blogosphere. However, even the top blogger from AMN earns couple of million page views per month at most.

[disclaimer] Akky AKIMOTO belongs to AMN network with his tech-blog as a pro-blogger working for Cybozu Labs in his daytime job.

See also:

Chinatsu Wakatsuki’s weblog [J]

Ameba Blog [J]

CyberAgent [J]

Agile Media Networks

Mixi’s CTO to step down

Mixi, No.1 Social Networking Service in Japan, today announced that Batara ETO will leave his CTO job at the end of December, 2007.

Mixi logo

Eto, who is originally born in Indonesia recently naturalized (his former name was Batara Kesuma), is well know as a person to suggested Social Network Service in E-Mercury, the former name of Mixi, Inc. Mixi is the one of the biggest net services in Japan now and its traffic is generally well-handled by Mixi’s engineering team lead by him. He became Mixi’s CTO in December 2005 and sometimes made presentations about huge website scalability architecture on LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-Perl) technology.

Mixi’s announcement does not include if they name another CTO or leave it blank. Eto will remain as a “Gijyutsu Komon” (Technical Adviser) so it is unlikely that he moves to other SNS competitors such like Gree(No.2 users), MySpace(opened Japan page) or friendster(recently added Japanese localization).

See Also:

Disclosed information about Batara Eto’s resign [J][pdf]

Batara Kesuma’s presentation [pdf] at MySQL Users Conference 2006, Santa Clara, CA