News aggregator SmartNews raises $230 million, valuing its business at $2 billion

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smartnews, a Tokyo-headquartered news aggregation website and app that has grown in popularity despite heavy competition from built-in aggregators like Apple News, today announced that it has closed on $230 million in Series F funding. The round brings SmartNews’ total growth to date to more than $400 million and values ​​the business by $2 billion — or the company as a whole. in your press release, a “double unicorn.” (ha!)

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Funding included new US investors Princeville Capital and Woodline Partners, as well as JIC Venture Growth Investments, Green Co-Investment Investments, and Yamauchi-No.10 Family Office in Japan. Existing investors participating in the round included ACA Investments and SMBC Venture Capital.

Founded in 2012 in Japan, the company launched in the US in 2014 and expanded its local news footprint early last year. While the app’s content team includes former journalists, machine learning is used to choose which articles to show to readers to personalize their experience. However, one of the major differences of the app is how it works to pop users.filter bubblesThrough the “News from all sides” feature, which allows its users to access news from a range of political perspectives.

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It has also developed new products such as its COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard and US Election Dashboard, which provide important information at a glance. With the additional funds, the company says it plans to develop more features for its US audience — one of its largest facilities besides Japan — that will focus on consumer health and safety. These will be implemented over the next few months and will include features to track wildfires and crime and safety reports. It also recently launched a hurricane tracker.

The aggregator’s business model is largely focused on advertising, as the company has previously stated that 85-80% of Americans are not paying to subscribe to news. But SmartNews believes that these news consumers still have a right to access to quality information.

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In total, SmartNews has relationships with over 3,000 global publishing partners whose content is available through its service on the web and on mobile devices.

To generate revenue, the company sells inline advertising and video advertising, where the revenue is shared with the publishers. More than 75% of its publishing partners also take advantage of it.”smart viewfeature. This is the app’s quick-reading mode, and an alternative to something like Google AMP. Here, users can quickly load an article to read, even when they’re offline. Publishers Promise That these mobile-friendly stories, which are marked with a Lightning Bolt icon in the app, drive higher engagement — and that its algorithm rewards the type of content that gets them more readers. Smartview partners include well-known brands such as USA Today, ABC, HuffPost and others. Currently, over 70% of all SmartNews pageviews are coming from the first SmartView.

SmartNews’ app has proven to be very sticky in terms of capturing and retaining users’ attention. The company tells us, citing data from App Annie’s July 2021, that the average time it spends per user per month on US mobile devices is higher than Google News or Apple News.

image credit: App Annie data provided by SmartNews

The company declined to share its monthly active users (MAUs), but said it had grown to 20 million in the US and Japan in 2019. Today, it says its US MAUs have more than doubled compared to the previous year.

According to the data provided to us by aptopiaThe SmartNews app has seen nearly 85 million downloads since its launch in October 2014, and 14 million of them in the last 365 days. The firm noted that Japan is the largest market for installs, accounting for 59% of lifetime downloads.

Ken Juzuki, Co-Founder and CEO of SmartNews, said, “This latest round of funding reaffirms the strength of our mission, and fuels our drive to expand our presence and launch facilities that are particularly Appeals to users and publishers in the state.” “Our investors in the US and globally recognize the tremendous growth potential and value of SmartNews’ efforts to democratize access to information and create an ecosystem that benefits consumers, publishers and advertisers,” he added.

The company says the new funds will be used to invest in further US development and the expansion of the company’s team. Since its last fundraising in 2019, where it became a unicorn, the company has more than doubled its headcount globally to nearly 500 people. It now plans to double its workforce in the US with additions to engineering, product and leadership roles.

Wall Street Journal reports SmartNews Finding an IPO, but the company declined to comment on it.

The SmartNews app is available on iOS and Android in over 150 countries around the world.

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