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2009 Japanese IPOs December 4, 2009

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, IPO, Japan.
2 comments

So, a grand total of 19 IPOs for the whole of calendar year 2009.

Down from 49 last year (and the market thought that was bad…)

Looking on the bright side, I don’t think it is physically possible to go even lower next year. Yay!

On the other hand, a V shaped recovery back to the heady bubble days isn’t going to happen. So tough times ahead for people trying to make a living on supporting the IPO and venture markets…

As for concrete numbers, we are hearing estimates from 30~60 new IPOs next year. Some people are eternal optimists it seems….

CRU, “Climategate” and reporting in the Japanese media December 3, 2009

Posted by fukumimi in Communications, Economy & Business, Energy, Environment, Japan, Media.
16 comments

Or the absence thereof.

It’s come to a point where the situation is beyond absurd. The story has been reported in all the respectable (and not so respectable) English media outlets I keep up with (NYT, WSJ, Washington Post, Times (UK), Guardian, Telegraph, the Indy, special mention of that esteemed outlet the Washington Times whose reporting hardly contained its glee), to a point where it is silly to accuse “the media” of greenwashing.

On the other hand, there seems to be a coordinated effort to keep this out of the Japanese mainstream press. Do a Google News search for say, “climate change” + “data” (気候変動 データ)  or “(global) warming” + “data” (温暖化 データ) or “CRU” (University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, for those of you who have been living under a rock (or in Japan) for the last week or so), and you get (if you are lucky) a grand total of three relevant Japanese language hits. A Bloomberg article, a Slashdot.jp piece and a Wired Vision piece buried in Nikkei’s PC Online publication’s security section. The Bloomberg and Slashdot pieces are dated Dec 2nd. The Wired Vision/PC Online piece is dated Nov 30 (but I suspect the editors thought it was a piece on hacking and it slipped through the net).

None of the major papers, Nikkei, Yomiuri, Asahi, Sankei, Mainichi… None appear to have a related story on this piece of pretty important news in any form searchable on the internet. NONE. Same goes for the TV media. Nothing on NHK, or any of the commercial terrestrial channels.

If I were a betting man, I would have money on this being a Ministry of the Environment Press Club managed greenwash of the most outrageous proportions.

So much for the new administration being a change from the old regime. Either the Minister and Vice-Minister (hello Minister Sakihito Ozawa, Vice-Minister Issei Tajima) are totally clueless, or are, like so many of their predecessors from the now exiled LDP, in cahoots with the bureaucrats in keeping a lid on important news (until at least  Copenhagen COP15, or maybe even longer).

So yet again, we have the media and other forces (the govt and/or bureaucracy and most likely business interests – who seem to have developed a taste for various green subsidies which are quickly turning into the new pork barrel money drip) seemingly taking a united stance against informing the general public about an actual topic worthy of discussion. Not like some actress caught doing drugs. Or the world’s best golf player’s dubious tastes in women.

It is highly unlikely that this story will be kept under wraps for too long. The story is too big for someone not to break rank and do a “scoop”, a week or two (or more?) after the rest of the world. And then the floodgates will open.

But it has to be asked, what are the media getting in return? So much talk of how commercial media (and their ecosystem partners) are in so much financial pain. Maybe something to ease that pain is in the works? I have a strong suspicion that might just be what the doctor ordered.

Twitter widget May 13, 2009

Posted by fukumimi in Uncategorized.
2 comments

I have added a twitter widget to this blog as I seem to be doing more twittering than blogging of late (not saying very much, I know), in the vague hope that I may be able to interact with some people over there from over here (not that there are too many people over here anymore, I guess).

Coinciding with a decrease in blogging, I seem to have wondered away from my feedreader as well. I wonder if there is any correlation there.

Gree’s IPO and service outage December 20, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IPO, IT, Japan.
4 comments

Gree, Japan’s #2 (and original) SNS had its IPO on Dec 17th, instantly valuing the company at an eye popping JPY110B ($1.2B), with PER of 170 and PBR of 104. This makes Gree worth more than the #1 SNS, Mixi, which is currently valued at $900M, which is trading at a PER of 43.

Gree has approx 7 million “users”, which puts it far behind Mixi which claimed it passed 15million in the summer. The interesting thing about Gree is that it is, for all intents and purposes, a mobile internet SNS, with more than 98% of page views from mobile devices, although it originally started as a PC service. Mixi has a more even split between PC and mobile, 33:67 according to the most recent published figures.

An interesting development occured yesterday, when Gree’s service went down after lunch.  Gree was very slow in releasing details of the outage, and there are claims on the internet that Gree investor relations initially claimed the outage was due to “maintenance”.

Sakura Internet, Gree’s datacenter provider, has announced that the problems were due to an electrical fire, but says the problems only affected one of the two redundant power lines. If this were true, it would appear that the users affected (which included not just Gree but also So-net’s blog service and Seesaa, another blog platform provider) have some deployment issues they need to take care of.

More interestingly, on page 17 of their IPO filing, Gree states that its “systems are distributed across multiple datacenters to ensure stable operations”.

It appears that yesterday’s outage was total and complete, as far as its gree.jp SNS service was concerned, which raises the question about its representations in the IPO filing.

Or maybe the reference to systems distributed  across multiple datacenters refers to the fact that its corporate website is housed in a different datacenter – gree.co.jp, the corporate website appeared unaffected during the time the gree.jp service was out, not that that is of any use to users who could not access the service……

Perhaps Gree will use the money raised in its IPO to move to a more reliable datacenter and reevaluate its system architecture….

2008 Japanese IPOs December 4, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, Japan.
1 comment so far

Back in February I posted about predictions for the number of IPOs we’ll see this year. Market consensus (based on a Nikkei poll of market “experts”) was 100-120 IPOs.

http://fukumimi.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/where-is-the-japanese-ipo-market-headed-this-year/

The actual number we will see through end of December is 49. 41 IPOs (including one today) so far this year, and 8 more lined up for December (including Gree, the #2 SNS (after Mixi) in Japan).

The end of year IPO window closure that was being touted failed to materialize, which is fortunate because if Nov/Dec were not available we would have been down to 36.

If we look at FY08, through 3 quarters we will have had 28 IPOs, with Q4(Jan-Mar) being a shortened quarter as IPOs in Jan are as rare as hens’ teeth.

Monthly breakdown:

Jan    -

Feb    9

Mar   12

Apr    1

May   1

Jun    1

Jul     1

Aug   4

Sep   3

Oct   4

Nov  4

Dec  9

This is my first post in months, hope to resume regular blogging soon. Hopefully not dwelling too much on the financial turmoil and my doom and gloom predictions for next year….

Toyota to sell solar panel equipped Prius July 7, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Energy, Japan.
5 comments

The Nikkei is reporting that Toyota is planning to sell a version of its hybrid Prius with solar panels integrated into the roof of the car, starting 2009.

The PV panels will be procured from Kyocera, from whom Toyota have procured panels in the past for various other PV projects (such as setting up PV panels at the factories, and also with their residential housebuilder subsidiary).

The aim is to use the PV panel to supply some of the power required to drive the car’s air conditioning system. PV+AC is obviously a good fit, with AC demand tracking solar irradiance pretty well in general.

But make no mistake, the solar panels derive nowhere near enough power to actually power the drivetrain, nor can it really be used to trickle charge the batteries in any meaningful way (because of the limited battery capacity).

Some basic maths.

Available roof area: approx 1400 x 1200 (mm) = 1.68sq. m

Kyocera PV panel output approx 135Wp/sq. m

Max output per panel (assuming full roof area utilization)= 230Wp

Loss due to non-optimal placement (horizontal vs 30deg incl.) = 11.6%

Loss due to thermal heating of panel = max 20% (June-August) for residential roof installed panel – for car roof application, losses will be greater due to greater restrictions in thermal management

Other losses (due to dirty panels, electrical losses) = 5%

Peak power output per car = approx 150W

Which means one could generate up to 0.75kWh or so a day, given sunny conditions. Another problem is the battery capacity of the Prius Ni-MH battery itself, which is just 1.3kWh (201.6V,6.5Ah), combined with the battery management software in the Prius which appears not to allow deep discharging, which means that even if you put the car in a sunny place without driving it, the amount of electrical charge the car can generate and store peaks out as soon as the battery hits maximum charge.

The net result is that over the course of a year, one would do well to save just one or two tanks worth of petrol.

Probably good business for Toyota, for whom it might cost $500 to add and be able to charge at least a couple of grand to pander to vain green types.

The added weight up at the top of the car won’t do anything for vehicle dynamics, dragging up the centre of gravity, but I’m guessing enthusiastic drivers aren’t buying the Prius for its handling.

Related, when I was in the UK a couple of weeks ago, I caught Top Gear (the popular BBC car show) on TV, and they had a couple of hilarious segments.

The premise was that BBC management were berating Top Gear for not doing more eco-friendly stuff. (On a show for petrolheads who like their non-PC cars???)

So the Top Gear team did a segment to find look for the most fuel efficient….. supercar…… doing laps of a race track. They took some fast cars (Ferrari 430, Lamborghini Murcielago (probably), Mercedes SLR McLaren, and an Audi R8), and made them do fast laps around their race  track, with just a gallon of petrol in the tank for each of them. Turns out, the Ferrari ran out of petrol first, and the last man standing was the Audi R8. Irrelevant, irreverent, and bloody hilarious.

The other eco-friendly segment had the Prius up against a BMW M3, and had the Prius lap the circuit as quickly as it could, whilst the M3 tagged along behind. The M3 came out with about 10% better than the Prius on fuel efficiency in that particular test. Of course, it doesn’t reflect ordinary driving conditions, and pitting a 1.5litre Prius against the 400bhp 4litre may not be fair, with the BMW able to shadow the Prius at its limits without breaking into a sweat, but I think the point was made.

Given that the majority of my own driving is on the motorway to and from the golf course, I think my next car will be the one that returns the best fuel consumption at highway cruising speeds. I wonder when BMW will release their 330d/530d diesels in Japan? Mercedes has a E-class diesel which appears increasingly popular with well-to-do golfers here in Japan. Actually, I wouldn’t mind saving a bit of money and go with a domestic diesel model if they actually made one (and no, the diesel Nissan X-trail SUV-thingy doesn’t count).

OK, I should probably give up golf whilst living here in Japan if I were really trying to be maximally eco-friendly, but we all need our indulgences, don’t we? It is less wasteful of energy than a motorboat.

Sharp and KEPCO to build out PV farm June 23, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Energy, Japan.
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Sharp and KEPCO (Kansai Electric Power Company) have announced that they will be building out a 28MW PV farm starting 2009. The plant will use Sharp’s thin film PV modules, and will occupy the roof area of Sharp’s Sakai 10G LCD/thin film PV plant as well as an adjacent landfill site owned by Osaka prefecture.

The plant is expected to be operational in 2011.

JP press release (no English PR at time of press)

The completed facility will generate just under 30GWh/yr.

We only need another seven hundred thousand or so of these facilities to take care of our energy needs for the next generation. Assuming moderate economic growth, it looks like we’ll need about 20TW of additional carbon free energy production capacity by 2050, and whilst I’m sure other sources of power will also be tapped, solar will probably play some role.

I’m guessing building out 20,000 nuclear power stations is out of the question. 20,000 over 42years is more than one new plant commissioned EVERY SINGLE DAY between now and 2050….

Some additional thoughts on the SB/iPhone news June 4, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan, Mobile, technology.
3 comments

We can stop talking about 3G iPhone  “rumours”. Since SB (and all other Japanese carriers) no longer have legacy 2.xG networks which are actively adding users, a Japanese launch must be equated to 3G. 3G only or 3G+GSM, that is now the question.

Coming just one day after SB’s launch of their ’08 summer collection, one has to wonder what impact the news of iPhone’s launch at some time in the future will have on SB ’08 summer handset sales will be. Given that the two other major carriers have also begun marketing their ’08 summer models, the timing of this announcement could be seen as a spoiler tactic targetting users who might have been thinking of upgrading their phones on rival networks. Many of the upgraders this season will be upgrading into the newly introduced 2-year fixed term contracts for the first time, so this would appear to be a good time to tempt users to switch with a unique offering. IF the iPhone will be a pure SB offering, of course.

SB’s summer ’08 collection launch yesterday was notable for its focus on young women. Women are apparently underrepresented in SB’s customer base, and the announced handset lineup was heavy on models targeted towards women. This may offset the negative impact of the iPhone announcement, a quick strawpoll conducted around the office seemed to suggest that the iPhone will appeal more to techy, geeky young men. The fact that the iPhone form factor and capacitative touchscreen interface isn’t optimal for single handed use especially with long manicured nails counts against the iPhone in the Japanese F1 demographic, for sure. So, targeting women with their summer models and guys with the iPhone may be valid.

iPhone to be sold through Softbank Mobile in Japan June 4, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan, Mobile, technology.
3 comments

Softbank Mobile’s press release here.

No specifics on timing of launch, price, exclusivity, etc.

The phone hasn’t been through the JATE approval process yet, so it’ll be at least a couple of months before we see it in the shops, based on the usual timelag between JATE approval and products hitting the shelves.

The World’s Best? April 23, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Food and Drink.
7 comments

Just came across the 2008 The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (sponsored by everybody’s favorite fizzy water, San Pellegrino)

I love lists like this. Especially when they are as flawed as this one.

4 restaurants in the top 50 outside of Europe and the USA?

Since the list’s inception in 2002, only 2 restaurants in Japan have been on this list. Sukiyabashi Jiro, and the New York Grill….. The New York Grill???? (up at the top of the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku) OK, the NY Grill isn’t that shabby, but as far as Tokyo restaurants go, there must be dozens which are better.

OK, so the voting mechanism is flawed, it wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine that European and North American foodies tend to concentrate most of their time between these two continents….

But still….. I’m sure most of the restaurants on this list are great, but unfortunately I’ve only been to a small handful, mostly the ones in London.

And, to be honest, I really can’t see how places like Nobu London, Hakkasan and St John deserve regular spots in the Top 50. Unless the others on the list are equally average.

I mean, the food at St John (#16 this year) is great, I’ve always enjoyed my meals there, but would it cross my mind when considering a venue for my last supper? No.

And the other two…. Neither would get into Shin’s Top 50 restaurants in London, let alone the world.

Nobu London (#30), where the markup on their sake (compared to Japanese _retail_ price) is above and beyond 500%. Where the (mostly Eastern European, when I went last) waiters were really rather clueless. And most distressing of all, on each and every occasion, at least some part of the food was grossly sub-par for the price. Not being one to make a scene, I didn’t object to the piece of sashimi which would have offended customers at a cheap Izakaya chain here in Tokyo. Or their apparent use of industrial soy sauce on another occasion.

Hakkasan, what can I say. Cocktails? Perfect for the UK binge drinking culture perhaps. You’d need to be smashed to think that these cocktails were anything a real bartender would admit to mixing. Food? OK, but definitely not worth the price. You could have much better Chinese food in a dozen restaurants in London.

If you thought the Michelin Guide to Japan was bad…….

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