ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Companies

KDDI seeks to win 5G era with $180m startup fund

Japanese telecom also eyes new fields like entertainment and fintech

KDDI President Makoto Takahashi aims to use the company's communications network to foster startups. (Photo by Manami Yamada)

TOKYO -- Japanese telecom KDDI will establish a 20 billion yen ($186 million) fund to bolster investment in fifth-generation wireless service and other digital technologies, responding to encroachment into its domain by companies such as online retailer Rakuten.

KDDI intends to improve collaboration with startups developing technologies including 5G, the "internet of things" and artificial intelligence, President Makoto Takahashi told reporters on Thursday in Tokyo. The company will harness its communications network to expand these ventures and partner with them on such tasks as the development of next-generation services.

The telecom ranks as a leader among Japanese companies for investing in startups. KDDI operates two similar funds worth 5 billion yen each and bought internet of things venture Soracom last year.

"We will create services by having various businesses use our platform," said Takahashi, whose experience leading new operations helped him succeed Takashi Tanaka as president on Sunday. "The scope of KDDI's business would become limited alone."

KDDI also looks to send personnel and offer other support to help startups best use the telecom's assets.

But Takahashi aims for growth in other fields as well. He gave the company's first-ever target for sales outside the communications segment, saying, "I want to reach over half of Rakuten's sales," which total about 950 billion yen.

The company acquired Aeon Holdings, an operator of English-conversation schools, in January and partnered with Daiwa Securities Group in February to offer smartphone-based asset management. KDDI also plans to make fields such as entertainment a feature of its operations.

Companies are marching into each other's fields amid the growing competition to win customers by marrying new services with communications technology. Rakuten's recent moves prompted Takahashi's focus on new businesses. The retailer, already strong in e-commerce and finance, intends to add communications to its arsenal and widen the scope of its operations.

"KDDI is superior in terms of proximity to our customers," Takahashi said. "We will make preparations until Rakuten enters the industry."

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends June 30th

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media