American Express buys restaurant booking platform Pocket Concierge in Japan

Shinjuku, Japan. Photo by Alva Pratt on Unsplash

Japanese restaurant reservation platform Pocket Concierge has been acquired by global payments firm American Express, according to an announcement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Pocket Concierge works with more than 800 restaurants throughout the country. Founded in 2011 by former chef Kei Tokado, the startup secured a $600,000 early investment from 500 Startups and other investors. The funding was one of the Silicon Valley VC’s first deals in Japan.

“The team was able to bring the best culinary experiences in Japan online and make them accessible in English and Chinese. And their timing was impeccable: inbound tourists to Japan have increased from just under 10 million to over 30 million in the last 5 years,” James Riney, head of 500 Startups Japan, wrote in a blog post announcing the AmEx acquisition.

American Express said Pocket Concierge will provide its card members with additional access to reservations at top restaurants in Japan.

“Our card members love to dine out, so we are always exploring ways to provide them with greater access to reservations across the globe,” said Chris Cracchiolo, senior vice president of global loyalty and benefits at American Express.

“Pocket Concierge’s reservation platform and extensive relationships with top Japanese restaurants provide us with a great opportunity to continue to enhance and expand upon the dining access we provide to our card members across the globe,” he added.

Last year, American Express had acquired India-based travel app Mezi, reportedly for around $125-150 million, and UK-based fintech startup Cake for $13.3 million.

Also read:

American Express acquires Mezi

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.