GMO Internet, Japan’s leading provider in ISP, web server hosting, domain registration etc., kicked off a new project in order to boost potential developers to create new social apps last weekend.
GMO Venture Partners (GMO-VP)[J], a GMO’s arm in their investment and incubation business, set up a project called “Apuri Yarouze!” (Let’s create social apps!)[J] and started accepting entries of business plans on their website. The plans are required to be intended for developing new social apps for Japan’s major social network platforms such as Mixi[J], Mobage-town[J] and GREE[J]. GMO-VP will provide the total amount of approx. USD320 million worth capital to the potential developers whose business plans will have been passed the judgment by the committees consisting of Toshiyuki Inoko (CEO, TeamLab), Ryo Shimizu (CEO, Ubiquitous Entertainment), Mitsuru Sugaya[J] (cartoonist), Tomoyasu Hirano (CEO, Digital Stage[J]) and more.
The project provides around USD30,000 – 300,000 as system integration cost to each of the potential developers in terms of financial assistance. GMO provides their server infrastructure to the developers for free. After the app’s release, the developer can take 80% of the profit earned from the app, and the project takes the rest of it.
At the kick-off conference, Mr. Yuji Akaba of Breakthrough Partners[J], who serves a judge of the committee and previously work with Silicon Valley-based VC Techfarm Ventures, says, social app market is a good opportunity for system engineers who wish to exit from the contract-based software development. He introduced Silicon Valley’s social app provider Zynga who had become worth USD1billion in their market capitalization within 2.5 years since their launch. (see this my story for more about Zynga.)
Business plan entries are due noon of March 31st, Wednesday. The app development tasks are required to be completed in three months after the plan is passed, and the apps are opened to the public in six months. Corporate applicants who have been fundraised by VC(s) in three years, and all applicants having any social app which is ranked in the Mixi App’s most popular top ten are not allowed to submit entries.
Shoko Nakagawa, aka Shokotan, announced [J] her blog moving to Ameblo [J], CyberAgent blog hosting who boasts over 1,400 celebrity bloggers.
Shokotan’s blog originally began in 2003 at Yaplog, a free blog hosting service popular to girls by cute design selections, when she was just one of them.
After getting popularity by her aggressive frequent posts with photo around 30-50 per days and called “a new blog queen” after Kaori Manabe and blog-retired Chinatsu Wakatsuki, in February 2008, she (by rumour was ordered by agency and reluctantly) moved to another free hosting, Excite Blog with her 10 billion page views. On Excite Blog, paid premium service were introduced. Excite PR denied financial transaction with the talent agency for the move.
This time, according to her staff’s explanation [J], this movement to Ameblo is mainly by Excite stopping its fan-club service which Shokotan had been using, and they are seeking to utilize Ameblo and CyberAgent’s community services such like Pigu.
18th November 2008, Japanese web hosting company Paperboy (J) (JASDAQ:3633) announced that the company will be listed to JASDAQ stock market on December 19th. Paperboy runs services like Lolipop (J), Heteml (J), and Jugem (J). Kazuma Ieiri started the business in October 2001 in Fukuoka. Paperboy is providing hosting services for consumers with very low prices.
Web hosting service ‘Lolipop’ offers a web space for 263yen ($2.6) per month. Domain name reseller ‘muumuu domain‘ (J) is providing dotcom domain with 950yen ($9.5) per year. Paperboy is a subsidiary of a global registrar GMO Internet.
In March 2005, Paperboy raised 128 million yen (1.28 million USD) from GMO Internet group with a 597 million yen (6 million USD) post-money valuation. GMO Internet group is one of the biggest Japanese Internet companies. In 2006, Ieiri sold 10% of Paperboy stocks to the GMO group.
Paperboy reported a revenue of 1.7 billion yen (17 million USD) for a FY2008. Its post-tax profit was 200 million yen (2 million USD). 
GMO Internet is the biggest shareholder of Paperboy, and has 59.6% of its shares. Ieiri has 38.4% share of Paperboy.
Kazuma Ieiri is known as a very funny person who is doing many funny projects. He released some web gadgets, including a Flash gadget which introduces items from his shopping site by a computer generated voice. Also Paperboy is operating a cafe called HI SCORE Kitchen (J) in Shibuya.
 FY2008 pre-tax profit was 356 million yen (3.56 million USD).
* A prospectus (J) (PDF)
* Kazuma Ieiri’s blog (J)