Japan’s Ookami closes Series A round from IMJ, GREE Ventures, others

Visual of Ookami's Player! homepage. March 2017

Tokyo-based Ookami, which is developing the “Player!” sports entertainment app, has closed an undisclosed Series A funding round from IMJ Investment Partners (IMJ-IP), existing investor Gree Ventures, Japanese daily newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, and a number of undisclosed individual investors.

This follows Ookami raising an undisclosed seed round from Gree Ventures in May 2016.

Ookami had previously closed angel rounds in June 2014 and March 2015, which saw them raise 30 million yen (~$261,000). According to media reports, the Series A investment is on the scale of “several hundred million yen”.

These angel investors include athlete Dai Tamesue, Uzabase, Uzabase CEO Yusuke Umeda, Tomohito Ebine (founder of OPT Holdings), and Toshiaki Komatsu, (Co-founder of Photocreate).

Incepted in April 2014, the company released the mobile app “Player!” for iOS in April 2015. Previously a sports news distribution platform, the venture pivoted to become a platform that reports sports games live with added social network functionality. This means viewers can share their reaction in real-time to sporting events.

This latest round will see it enhance the news distribution functions of Player!, as well as the formation of partnerships with a major data stadium for broadcasting sports scores. Additionally, it plans to broadcast information about J-league football and B-league basketball games in Japan in real time.

The Asahi Shimbun, which participated in this investment round, has also partnered with Ookami. The newspaper firm, which participates in about 180 sports events per annum, commented: “We believe that through multiplying various sports businesses and contents with Ookami’s Player!, a new way of enjoying sports, and communicating about sports, separate from a newspaper, becomes possible; so we entered into the partnership.”

The investment comes at a time when the digital distribution of sports content is bustling, with other digital sports startup ventures offering competing services and offerings. The latest partnership will enable The Asahi Shimbun to expand the reach of its sports content coverage.

With Japan hosting the 2020 Olympic games, Ookami’s investor IMJ said, “The sports industry is expected to be one of the nation’s growing industry. But among the players in the industry, Player! Is a new media that realizes sports live contents and smartphone optimal customer experience. We also have great faith in the executive strength of the management team which is the reason for our support.”

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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.