Japan: Fukuoka-Bordeaux pact; HiNative gets $2m; WealthNavi closes $15m Series B

Temple in Kiyomizu,Japan. Credit:Flickr/Caribb

Fukuoka, Japan and Bordeaux, France are partnering to grow their drone industries, HiNative has closed a $2 million investment while WealthNavi has closed a $15 million Series B round.

Fukuoka & Bordeaux partner to grow drone sector

The cities of Fukuoka in Japan and Bordeaux in France have formed a partnership to drive the growth of the drone sector, with a focus on the startup space. This includes interaction of startups or business mapping as a part of a three-year cooperation plan commencing from 2017.

Bordeaux plays host to what is claimed to be the largest drone event in Europe, the UAV SHOW which is held in every October.

In addition, a Bordeaux City’s extra-departmental organization Bordeaux Technowest manages four large-scale areas especially for drones’ test-flying, providing an ideal environment to promote growth of drone startups.

The collaboration sees Fukuoka-based TrueBizon providing consulting service utilising drones and was invited to participate in the UAV SHOW 2016, held from October 12th to 13th.

Truebizon was also selected to participate in a Fukuoka startup support programme for overseas development named Global Challenge! STARTUP TEAM FUKUOKA.

Prior to this collaboration, Fukuoka has already established the Kyusyu Drone Consortium, a department established within the Fukuoka Directive Council (commonly known as Fukuoka D.C.), an industry / academia / public-sector / government / private-sector platform located near the Fukuoka urban area which aims to drive drone utilisation or business creation.

HiNative concludes $2m investment

Tokyo-based Lang-8, the company behind a Q&A app for language learning called HiNative, has secured 200 million yen (~ $2 million) in funding.

According to a report by The Bridge, investors in this round include Kyoto University Innovation Capital, East Ventures, and DeNA. Individual investors involved in this round were Chiba Kotaro and Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron, in addition to multiple others. Details of shareholding ratios and payment dates are undisclosed.

Since launching in November 2014, HiNative has grown its user base to 200,000. The Q&A app has received 960,0000 questions as of the end of September, with 3.4 million answers generated, 120 languages supported and with user access on a global basis.

The company plans to use the funds to strengthen their development system, as well as promoting marketing measures aimed at acquiring 2.5 million users by the end of 2017.

WealthNavi closes $15m Series B

Tokyo-based WealthNavi, which offers a technology-based asset management service under the same name, has closed a 1.5 billion yen (~$15 million) in a series B round with participation from SBI Holdings, SBI Investment, Mizuho Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, DBJ Capital, and Infinity Venture Partners.

The latest investment brings their aggregate equity financing raised to date to 2.1 billion yen (~$21 million) since inception in April 2015. WealthNavi offers a cloud-based robo-advisory service that helps middle-income people better locate diversified investments internationally that launched in July 2016.

In parallel to the investment, WealthNavi has also entered into partnerships with SBI Securities and Sumishin SBI Net Bank, subsidiaries of SBI Holdings. This will see them offer the robo-advisory service to SBI’s 2.6 million online banking customers plus 3.6 million stock trading customers.

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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.