SmartNews Raises $36 Million in Round Led by Atomico, GREE

TOKYO (August 8) — SmartNews, the free, award-winning news-discovery app for iOS and Android, has raised $36 million in Series B funding, with significant investments from international investment firm Atomico and global mobile-social company GREE.

With the new investments, SmartNews has now raised more than $40 million. The company plans to use the funds for international expansion and recruitment, among other purposes.

Since SmartNews launched in Japan in December 2012, more than four million people have downloaded its apps, with impressive user-engagement metrics. SmartNews’s sophisticated, proprietary algorithms identify trending news stories, ranking and displaying them in a colorful, extremely easy-to-use app that is tailored specifically for smartphone screens. The Japanese Android version was named a Google Play App of the Year in 2013, and the iOS version was an App Store Best of 2013.

The company’s approach is as friendly to content-providers as it is to users, driving significant mobile traffic and publisher revenues. In Japan, SmartNews has already forged partnerships with major media companies, including Yomiuri and Nikkei. The company plans to release a U.S. version this fall, and recently named Rich Jaroslovsky, who was the first Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal’s web operations and founded the Online News Association, as vice president for content to establish relationships with U.S. content-providers.

“We’re thrilled to co-lead a new funding round to help SmartNews continue its impressive growth in Japan and globally scale its technology and world class team,” said Niklas Zennström, Chief Executive Officer of Atomico. “We believe that SmartNews has developed a unique and addictive news service combined with a publisher solution that creates a winning experience for everyone. We’ve been active in Japan for a long time, and it’s great to now see a new generation of companies that, as well as building strong businesses domestically, have the aspiration and capability to become international leaders too.”

Both Atomico and GREE have expertise in international expansion, and as investors in SmartNews will provide direct support to the company. Atomico has a dedicated team that helps companies scale, including experts in international expansion, hiring and communications, many of whom worked with Mr. Zennström as part of the global team that grew Skype. GREE will provide international support through its San Francisco-based GREE International unit.

For More Information, Contact: Rich Jaroslovsky, San Francisco