Invited to Seminar by Japan’s 1st Social Lending “Maneo”

A Tokyo-based serial entrepreneur C. Jeffrey Char read my stories featuring social lending that I contributed to the newspaper and posted on my blog, and he invited me to a seminar prior to launching the service of “maneo”.

Prosper coming here to Tokyo from US, Zopa from UK, both cannot reach launching their services so far, and Japan’s maneo is now the first one to start here.

Social lending may create the third category of financing industry, beside direct financing (private equities) and indirect financing (banks).   In terms of brief understanding, it can be counted in a form of priviate equities as well.

Mr. Tadatoshi Senoo leads maneo as its president, who was formerly working for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi-UFJ.   I drank some cans of beer after the seminar there, and I forgot to take his picture unfortunately.   Sorry for that.

He’s hot guy, from Kyushu island or southern part of Japan.   He will be featured many times on TV and newspapers from now on, there I need not take his picture with my poor camera skill this time. 

Japan’s financial laws are defined without any view of social lending, and it seems hard for them to clear laws and various regulations and to persuade conservative bureaucrats for approval.

But now, finally they got understanding of the monetary authority, and they can start the service around coming October.

I think it would be better not used only as a new one of financial services, but for example, elderly people can use it as a bridge to share the dreams with youngers by lending(investing) money, and I hope such a new way of lending or investing is going well.

Mobile Monday Tokyo: Two VC Firms

Mr. Ryo Umezawa kindly invited me to Mobile Monday Tokyo which he hosted, and I went to Restaurant Sam & Dave in Akasaka to attend.

Well, it’s getting harder for me to finish the work before 7pm, but I could that day fortunately, which allowed me to be in the event from start to end.

Two venture capital firms, NGI Group and Global Capital Partners, gave the presentation that day.

Because I’ve been involved in VC work before, and VC people sometimes request me to help their work, I know a little bit about what VC really are. But Japanese VC firms should have more diversities, as everyone mentions.  I can see few concrete diversities of what VCs do in Japan, it looks like – I cannot find which TV channel or TV program when I’m watching it.

VC firms, especially located arong Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, which is famous as VC firms concentrated area — they have greater diversities in their investment stances.

We had better start up the business in Silicon Valley, in terms of growing up in more efficient way, including raising the fund money, providing the service worldwide, and getting human resources.

However, when we start up the business in Japan, we need have a reason why we do so.

I remember the notes Mr. Seiji Kimura left on his blog, who is the president of Web-Shark Inc., a leading provider of drop-shipping service based in Osaka.

Quoted from His Post on March 10th, 2008

The reason why you’re paying the tax to the country is, to have the right to use the brand name of “Japan” for doing your business. In order to get your money’s worth, you have to make your business grown up onto the world market which may truly find out the value of “Made in Japan”.

by someone with whom Mr. Kimura has travelled.

If so, the goverment’s behaviour is losing the brand image of “Japan” in these days, although we’re actually paying no less tax to the government.

Glam Media Enters Japan, with Mr. Yamamura as CEO

Some news sources say Glam Media established its local subsidiary in Japan, and Mr. Yukihiro YAMAMURA, former president of Excite Japan, is going to be the new company’s head.

Glam Media is the world’s Glam now.  It’s time to enter Japanese market.

Around this season of last year, I visited the head office of Glam Media, because some people around me said it was an interesting company.

The head office is located in Sierra Point, a wonderful scenic suburb of San Francisco city, someday I hope to work at such a great place.  Its entrance was designed in Japanese style, which made me feel something related to the company’s market entry to Japan this time.

Then I saw Vice President of Glam Media, and asked him they were going to Japan or not, but I couldn’t write about it on any media due to my reasons.

Apparel companies, who mainly targeted to women at 20s and 30s are selling their products without real store, are running their businesses very well, according to those who know about this industry in Japan.

As popular e-commerce website examples, FashionWalker, a joint venture of Yahoo! Japan and Xavel Inc., and Samantha Thavasa’s subsidiary Stylife  are often called up.  It may fairly be said that e-commerce is lead by women.

Several months later from now, we’ll see frequently Glam Media’s ads on the streets in Shibuya.

I wonder if I go to watch “Sex and the City: the movie” to find out more about today’s trends, which premiers at theaters in Japan very soon.

My iPhone Works Not Well

It’s been almost a week since I purchased iPhone 3G. As getting more apps and more podcasting programs installed, my iPhone got to hang up so repeatedly.

CNET’s podcast reported, 82% of all subscribers had experienced technical difficulties that iPhone cannot grab 3G signals…

Again, iPhone turned off in accident, in the middle of listening to that podcast.

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Expecting for next firmware update.

Web2.0 and Cellphone Gadgets

Last April when I was at Web2.0 Expo, there were many round tables featuring various themes being held at some hotels near the exhibition’s main venue.   I was hopping some round tables, one of the most impressed was a meeting of government people, actually it was titled as “Government 2.0”.   Almost 10 people including the employees of GSA (U.S. General Service Administration) and a consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton were talking on the issue.

They said, at U.S. governmental offices, web browsing to the Internet are usually filtered by firewall or proxy installed, basically people working there cannot use Web 2.0 services.   They concluded “Goverment people cannot benefit the services brought by Web 2.0 trends, it may cause avoiding the modernization of working procedures, unlike private sectors.”

In Japan, filtering divices or features are widely deployed not only in govermental offices but also in private sectors.   For example, at a site of my company’s client I often work for, when I try to browse some tech news websites, it’ ok for Tech Crunch, Ars Technica and The Next Web, but not for Mashable.    Because the site description includes words like Web2.0 or Social?   Perhaps, it depends on the targeted site is on the list or not, which are maintained by filtering solution vendors such as WebSense, I know.

The environment that strict filtering features deployed can be called as a certain type of “Isolated Place from Information”.   It can be compared to prison where any information outside is shutted off.

At the previous session of WBS 2.0 conference hosted by Mr. Ogawa, who is the president of Modiphi Inc., he mentioned “With iPhone 3G, it’s good for us to gain the free accessibility to websites even in the company’s office where strict filtering features deployed.”   It’s just a roundabout filtering features, which means the employees may violate the company’s security policies, but I’m sure Ogawa’s view is right.

Last night I dropped in a session of the group for studying the IT and Mobile Industry (official English name uknown), Mr. Kanda of CA Mobile Ltd. had a lecture, most part of what he said there is off-record, he explained mobile gadgets and widgets for cellphones are getting spread more from now on.

Compared to cellphone applications, gadgets/widgets require less approvals by cellphone operators, and less man-days cost to develop as well.   Plus, gadgets/widgets can receive information in push-based (in a strict expression, virtually push-based, because actually and technically it’s pull-based on background), which can be appeared on cellphone’s stand-by screen.

For ordinary types of cellphones (cellphone models other than iPhone), gadgets/widgets would be easily-accessible-windows to Web2.0 services originally designed for PC browsing.   “Isolated Place from Information”  mentioned above makes more needs of cellphone gadgets/widgets.

Anyway, in terms of usablity of browsing websites, I think there’s nothing better than iPhone so far.   But some people says it’s Android will have much better usability than iPhone, I’m looking forward to seeing Google Phone, whose earlist one is rumored to be released from HTC by the end of this year.


The following is a website capture of Japan’s patent agancy, which shows you NTT DoCoMo already registered a trademark of “iWidget”.   When they start it?

Where Netshare has gone?

I don’t have my physical strength enough to queue for iPhone 3G in front of a Softbank shop, I gave up to get it on the day when the sale started.   However, between appointments on weekdays, when I was walking in the shopping mall in Tokyo’s suburb, I found the shop having some inventories of the product, and I bought one there finally.

iPhone 3G – its appearance and user interface reminds me of Apple’s Newton and General Magic’s Magic cap.   (BTW, these relics of PDAs must be sleeping in my barn.)

There’s a iPhone app called Netshare developed, which enables your PC to connect to Internet via cellphone network with iPhone 3G, it’s getting available and unavailable repeatedly at the iPhone App Store.

Because cellphone operators are concerned that it might break their infrastructure or their business model if a high volume of data traffic flows at flat rate prepared for iPhone usage.

However, eMobile Ltd., an HSDPA operator in Japan, provides flat rate data service for PC users, and so far they face no problem on business model and infrastructure.

It can be considered that, eMobile is a 3G operator, and AT&T and Softbank carring default networks for iPhone 3G are, what are called 2G operators.  (Although they have 3G networks, their business models are still in 2G?)

I understand, the reason why flat rate is flat is, physical costs for constructing and maintaining networks are not always proportionate to the volume of data transfered.

In a long-term perspective, cellphone operators have to invest more for additional facilities, but even if Netshare is not to be available again, iPhone users like operators not to enact regulation controlling the data transmission on intelligent layer.

Moreover, I think Apple and cellphone operators have to establish a new sound business model, even if iPhone apps like Netshare come alive again.

Google StreetView Coming to Tokyo!

It looks like Google StreetView will start in U.K. with avoiding the privacy problems, its localized edition became available in Japan and Australia as well.

Last week Google Japan said “Nothing to say” about when the service starts.

Japanese Edition covers many streets and alleys in Tokyo, Osaka, Sendai and Sapporo.   But I’ve never seen their vehicle taking the pictures.

I wrote a lot about StreetView, I found it records changing of the town scene by taking the pictures periodically, like a certain historical encyclopedia of images, when I see the pictures of my neighbourhood.

StreetView with iPhone is a useful combination for those who have GPS devices but lose their ways very often.

The following is Google’s camera vehicle taking images, witnessed in the heart of Tokyo.

iPhone App Billionaire to come?

Mr. Toshihiro TAKAGI, formerly known as the Editor-in-Chief of MacLIFE Magazine(Japan), Mr. Eiichi MATSUKI, known as the manager of MAUG-J or Macintosh Apple User Group Japan, and freelance Macintosh programmer Mr. Hiroyuki FUJIMOTO had a joint lecture on recently released iPhone 3G and its beyond.   Usually one person is in charge of presentation at the Digicon Salon monthly session, but this time three experts jointly did.   A number of attendees were coming down to the venue, which describes iPhone’s popularity and the world’s high expections and inrerests in the future that iPhone makes.

I was late for the meeting, and I couldn’t hear many inside stories on the brand new product.   However Mr. Takagi explained, unlike Japan’s cellphone application developers’ industry until now, iPhone apps developers need not to test the application repeatedly for many cellphone models for many cellphone operators before its release, which costs a lot.  If a developer makes a great iPhone apps, all they have to do is one single test for one single cellphone model – iPhone.   Then, that iPhone apps they made can be available for iPhoners all around the planet.   Not only corporates but also individuals have potentials to be a developer of popular iPhone apps.

Mr. Matsuki pointed out Google gazes at iPhone apps market to be grown, because Google has interest in building up an application distribution network hub for Andoroid-based cellphone users, yes, it would be a very “iPhone App Store” like.