The investment is one of the largest for a Taiwanese tech company in the past few years. It’s also among the most substantial in recent memory for any Asian consumer web company that’s not named Rocket Internet.
In total, iPeen has received three rounds of investments. CyberAgent Ventures participated in the first two, and according to TechinAsia, the first round in 2011 was worth USD 1M at 20 percent equity, making for a valuation of USD 5M. That’s the equivalent of NEC Corporation’s investment — which means that iPeen is meeting investor’s expectations.
Similar to services like Singapore’s HungryGoWhere and Vietnam’s Foody, iPeen is a destination site that lists food businesses and crowdsources public feedback. To date, the website has accumulated some 200,000 businesses and over 250,000 customer reviews. It is receiving 7M monthly unique visitors, the press release mentioned.
iPeen’s mobile app, which enables location-based discovery of restaurants and reviews, has not done too badly, getting 400,000 downloads on iOS and Android. It is currently registering between 50,000-100,000 active installs on Android devices.
NEC and iPeen might seem like odd bedfellows. After all, NEC serves mainly enterprise customers with a product range consisting of hardware and software, some of which have rather niche uses.
But according to the press release, the Japanese corporation has looked favorably upon the website’s market dominance in the country, and plans to lend iPeen its expertise in information system design and data analysis.
From a macro perspective, the investment is part of the trend of Japanese companies looking outwards to the rest of Asia for growth opportunities.
CyberAgent Ventures, for example, is a subsidiary of CyberAgent Group, a Japanese Internet company. GREE Ventures, meanwhile, is associated with GREE, a leading mobile social gaming network in Japan. These companies have been making investments in startups in the region, making them viable backers and possibly exit options for entrepreneurs in Asia.
Beyond Japan, telcos like Singapore’s SingTel and Philippines’ Smart Communications have also been making bets on startups.
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