Japanese gaming firm Gree continues to branch out, this time with the help of an American education startup. The company announced today that it will invest in and form a business partnership with Make School, the self-styled “college for founders and developers.” With the new partnership, Gree will oversee a Make School-produced class on game development. The eight week course will take place this summer. Students, some of whom will be Gree engineers, are expected to plan, develop, and release a game within the eight weeks.
Gree is working hard at remaking its fortunes in the smartphone age. The industry giant today announced a new mobile game publishing partnership with KDDI Corporation in Japan, under which it will develop, publish, and localize games from outside of the country. KDDI – a mobile phone carrier – is best known for its mobile subscription service, au Smartpass, which allows users access to a variety of apps and games for a modest monthly fee of JPY 372, or US$3.50.
Every tech community has its heroes. In Japan, Gree founder and CEO Yoshikazu Tanaka is one such individual. When Forbes named him, at age 32, the world’s second youngest self-made billionaire – trailing only Mark Zuckerberg – he became proof that young Japanese entrepreneurs can reach the upper echelons of the industry. Tanaka’s stellar success is an inspiration not only for young techies, but also for the Japanese government. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a team working expressly for the purpose of supporting Japanese startups.
Gree (TYO:3632 isn’t leaving gaming. That was the message from today’s earnings report which covered the company’s entire 2014 fiscal year. Revenue and net income continued to slide both for the quarter and for the year. Revenue fell JPY 26.64 billion to JPY 125.6 billion (US$1.23 billion) and net income dropped JPY 5.1 billion to JPY 17.35 billion (US$169.6 million). Although it’s a far cry from the heady days of 2012 when the company scored JPY 47.97 billion (US$469 million) in yearly net income, Gree appears fully determined to return to its former glory.
Ahead of announcing its latest quarterly results later today, Gree (TYO:3632 surprised the gaming and childcare industries by unveiling Smartsitter , a babysitter matching service for Japan. It promises to act as a one-stop-shop for finding a reliable sitter, arranging the appointment, and handling the payment. Babysitting is a tricky business in Japan. Childcare is typically left to new mothers with some assistance from other family members. As chronicled by Goldman Sachs’ chief Japan equity strategist Kathy Matsui in her seminal study on women in the workplace (PDF file), the rarity of babysitting creates a difficult situation for new mothers who do not want to give up their working careers.
GREE (TYO: 3632), the Japanese internet services company best known for its games, revealed a new hotel booking service today. Known as Tonight, the mobile app available for both iPhone and Android. Tonight promises to make reserving hotel rooms a ten second task, placing GREE in competition with popular startups like Hotel Quickly and Hotel Tonight, which are becoming increasingly popula
Tokyo-based Gree Ventures announced the initial closing of its second fund earlier today, valued at 5 billion yen (approximately US$50 million). The fund, dubbed AT-I Investment Limited Partnership, has attracted key regional investors including parent company Gree, SME Support Japan, Credit Saison, Ateam, and Mizuho Capital.