Monthly Update, November 2019 (Tokyo)

March 22, 2022

1. GMO Internet acquires TownWiFi (Season 6), free Wifi auto connecting app

The GMO Internet, Inc. has announced that it has acquired TownWiFi Inc., which will now become a consolidated subsidiary of GMO Internet. The provider service was launched back in 1995. Since then GMO Internet Group has launched the Internet business under the corporate slogan “Internet for Everyone.”

As of today, GMO Internet Group is growing into a business group that comprehensively develops Internet Infrastructure, Online Advertising & Media, Internet Finance, and Cryptocurrency businesses.

Under the mission “delivery of barrier-free telecommunication,” since May 2016, TownWiFi has offered smartphone application “TownWiFi” for realizing seamless WiFi connectivity by automatically connecting a device to free Wi-Fi available nearby.

2. Alpaca (Season 2) nabs $6M for stocks API so anyone can build a Robinhood

Stock trading app Robinhood is valued at $7.6 billion, but it only operates in the U.S. Freshly funded fintech startup Alpaca does the dirty work so developers worldwide can launch their own competitors to that investing unicorn. Like the Stripe of stocks, Alpaca’s API handles the banking, security and regulatory complexity, allowing other startups to quickly build brokerage apps on top for free. It has already crossed $1 billion in transactions within a year of launch.

The potential to power the backend of a new generation of fintech apps has attracted a $6 million Series A round for Alpaca led by Spark Capital.

3. Wassha (Season 5), power supplier for off-grid Africa, snags US$9M from Daikin, Yamaha Motor, others

Tokyo-based Wassha, developing a prepaid solar power delivery service to off-grid areas in rural Africa by networking kiosk vendors under the same name, announced that it has raised 1.01 billion yen (about $9.2 million) in a series B round.

Participating investors are Daikin Industries (TSE:6367), Yamaha Motor (TSE:7272), Mistletoe, Mizuho Capital in addition to existing investors such as The University of Tokyo Edge Capital (UTEC) and Marubeni (TSE:8002). The latest round brought their total funding sum up to about 2.4 billion yen (about $22 million).

4. Phybbit (Season 12), ad fraud protection tool provider, Secures US$2.9M in Series A Funding

Phybbit, Ltd., a Tokyo, Japan-based provider of a fraud protection tool, raised 320m yen (USD $2.9m) in Series A funding. Backers included Mitsubishi UFJ Capital (MUCAP), Nippon Venture Capital (NVCC), Accord Ventures, Darwin Ventures, as well as individual investment from Satoshi Nakajima, the founder of Swipe, Inc., and Xevo, Inc.

Founded in 2011 by Satoko Ohtsuki, Phybbit is the developer of SpiderAF, an AI-driven tool that can detect online advertising fraud such as fake impressions, clicks, and conversions to reduce advertising budget waste and boost ROI. SpiderAF supports all ad formats including banner ads, mobile ads, affiliate ads, and listing ads.

5. Empath (Season 9), emotion analytics from voice, announced launch of new products for contact centers and partnership with Avaya

Empath officially launched DARUMA, a sympathy AI for call center workers, which is co-developed with TMJ, a call center BPO provider. DARUMA analyzes emotion from voice of an operator and a customer in real-time. Based on the result, the virtual assistant DARUMA supports an operator by praising and appreciating during and right after the call. By using the function, a closing rate of operators has become double.

Another newly launched product, Emo Value Generator 2.0 automatically analyzes customer satisfaction from a large amount of all of voice calls between operators and customers.

Finally, the voice emotion analytics AI, “Empath” becomes available to integrate with agent monitoring tool, Agent MAP by Avaya to make monitoring at call centers more efficient. It visualizes emotion of an operator and a customer to detect claims of a customer earlier and enable to support the operator who deals with a claim promptly. (in Japanese) (in Japanese) (in Japanese)