You may now exit. Metaps, Japan’s most-funded startup, is going public in August
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Photo Credit: Elvin 7 mil. Views / Flickr

Metaps, the company best known for its robust app monetization products and Spike, a fast-growing online payment solution, is going public – here’s why they decided to make this bold move so soon

Tech in Asia

Now anyone can get a piece of Japan’s hottest startup. Metaps, the company best known for its robust app monetization products and Spike, a fast-growing online payment solution, is going public. The announcement comes on the heels of a $36 million series C round the company secured earlier this year. The IPO, scheduled for August 28, is expected to bring in a further JPY 3.8 billion ($30.6 million).

As Japan’s most-funded startup – $52.5 million disclosed – and lead by Katsuaki Sato, a founder who often zigs when analysts expect him to zag, an IPO was not expected so soon. Investors are certainly not going to complain, however. Metaps’ IPO application predicts an initial market cap of JPY 43.6 billion ($350 million).

Metaps is bowing on the public markets at a time of high momentum. Its monetization business is humming along and Spike just made an intriguing play to be a loyalty rewards player by linking up with major players like Amazon and domestic credit card company Credit Saison. Sato is also committed to building out the firm’s artificial intelligence capabilities and has expressed an interest in starting a space-related business, too.

Founded in 2007, the startup hit its stride in 2010 when its app monetization business caught fire. Several years later, Metaps can claim to have assisted over one billion app downloads. This core business is not confined to Japan, either. When we last caught up with Sato, he confirmed that Metaps is getting 70 percent of its revenue from overseas clients.

The company’s ability to expand successfully overseas makes it a rare bird in Japan’s startup circles. Sato has eschewed typical Japanese corporate practices (identify biggest market, expand to the United States, send domestic staff to overseas operations) and built a growing business. His philosophy is to go after smaller, capturable markets, trust locally hired lieutenants, and avoid seeing the United States as the only pot of gold in the world.

Metaps founder and CEO Katsuaki Sato at Tech in Asia’s Road to Jakarta Meetup

Metaps founder and CEO Katsuaki Sato at Tech in Asia’s Road to Jakarta Meetup

The approach is working. For the previous fiscal year, Metaps scored JPY 2.26 billion ($18.2 million), and is on pace to hit about JPY 4 billion ($32.2 million) this financial year. That said, operating costs have also spiraled, leading the company on the road to posting a JPY 680 million ($5.48 million) operating loss this year. In the preceding fiscal year, the operating loss was only JPY 19.4 million ($156,000).

Investing in the future may not always win you fans, but Sato is not the sort of entrepreneur influenced by outside noise. As a private company, Metaps struck gold with app monetization, and now, as a soon-to-be public company, it is mining for the next pocket of success.

It is too soon to tell if that will be in payments, artificial intelligence, space tech, or even something entirely different. Regardless, Metaps has authored the latest success story in Japan’s startup ecosystem and the community will be looking forward to reading the sequel.

For his part, Sato seems to be embracing the moment. Though Metaps declined to speak to Tech in Asia for this story, he posted a simple message on Facebook in Japanese.

“It’s time. Let’s get started.”

By the way, Metaps founder Katsuaki Sato is scheduled to appear at Tech in Asia Tokyo 2015.

Editing by J.T. Quigley and Michael Tegos

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.

Featured Image Credit: Elvin 7 mil. Views / Flickr

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