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KDDI invests in SNS firm August 1, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Communications, Internet, IT, Japan.
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The Nikkei is reporting that KDDI, Japan’s #2 telco which is behind the “au” mobile carrier, has made an investment in Gree, the Japanese SNS site.

Gree, one of the pioneers of the Japanese SNS scene, is the distant #2 SNS behind its rival Mixi. (More than 6 times as many users replied that they use Mixi compared to Gree, in a recent MIC survey, which would mean that the number of Gree users is a little under 1 million, based on Mixi’s recent announcement that they have topped the 5 million mark – Gree doesn’t appear to be in the habit of making such announcements – or maybe they are waiting to hit the million mark)

KDDI’s investment is said to be to the tune of JPY3.64M, for a stake of “a few percent”. That probably means somewhere less than 10%. I’m betting the number is between 5 and 10%, which would value the company somewhere in the $30-60M range.
Gree has recently implemented geotagging of photos uploaded by its users and a mash up using Google Maps API.

The KDDI alliance will see features which will take advantage of GPS phones (automatic tagging of photos taken with GPS cameraphones), and synchronization between the Gree calendar tool and the same functionality provided in au phones.

Whilst Gree is certainly lagging behind Mixi in terms of user numbers, it is charting its own unique technological course. It’ll be interesting to see how SNS services evolve and what impact this will have on the balance of power between the various services.

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