Exclusive: Japanese VC Global Brain makes final close of sixth fund at $180m

In this photo, Global Brain CEO Yasuhiko Yurimoto (second from left) and partner Kazuhiko Miyama (extreme left) are seen with portfolio company Bizcast's team. Source: BitStar website

Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain Corporation has made the final close for its sixth fund at around $180 million, a little over the targeted amount the firm had announced late last year, an executive aware of the development said.

The firm, which is set to make a formal announcement later this month, has already started deploying from this fund that is focused on investments in Japan, Silicon Valley, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and Israel, DEALSTREETASIA has learnt. The final amount raised by the Japanese Yen-denominated fund may vary based on the prevailing exchange rate.

The fund had earlier set out to raise $175 million and had made its first close at $130 million at the time of its launch in December last year at the firm’s annual Alliance Forum.

The vehicle will look closely at startups engaged in the Internet of Things (IoT), hardware, enterprise, robotics, education and commerce solutions. It aims to invest in 70 to 80 companies, with ticket sizes ranging from 200 million yen ($1.7 million) to 1 billion yen ($8.67 million) each. The fund is also looking to invest in ventures that positively impact Japanese tourism ahead of Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

In fact, Global Brain’s recent investment in Tokyo-based Bizcast, which owns YouTube influencer marketing platform BitStar, in a $2.7 million funding round was deployed from the current fund, the official confirmed.

For the Japanese VC, this would be the biggest investment vehicle since the time it was started in 2001 with its first and second funds totaling only $17.5 million.

Among limited partners (LPs) for Global Brain’s latest fund are Cool Japan Fund, travel service conglomerate JTB, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), Sumitomo Forestry, and Information Services International-Dentsu as well as university endowments, as announced by founder and CEO Yasuhiko Yurimoto earlier.

Global Brain has earlier invested in printing startup Raksul in Japan, Indian ad-tech Near and the recently-minted Japanese unicorn and used goods application Mercari. As an early-stage venture capital firm, it has invested in about 30 companies and made at least seven exits through IPOs.

Several Japanese VC firms are active in the region. Last year, Rakuten Ventures, the investment arm of the Japan-based ecommerce titan, had doubled its global fund to US$200 million. This $200 million vehicle that is run out of Singapore and Tokyo is different from Rakuten’s Japan and fintech funds.

In May 2017, Tokyo-based venture capital firm GREE Ventures, that is among the most active investors in Southeast Asia, had announced the final close of its second fund at $67 million. The new vehicle – AT-II Investment Limited Partnership Fund – that was floated in April last year, was oversubscribed, considering GREE Ventures had been targeting to raise $60 million.

Also Read:

Japan: Global Brain launches $175m sixth fund

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VC Roundup: Japan’s Mercari joins unicorn club; Israeli startup Deep Optics gets $4m; Kuaifawu closes $10m round

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.