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Business

Japan's next wave of aspiring disruptors line up for IPOs

Managing YouTube stars among the innovative new business models

UUUM, a startup that manages YouTube personalities, went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers market Aug. 30.

TOKYO -- From artificial intelligence to fintech, a number of technology-driven Japanese startups looking to establish completely new business models have been planning initial public offerings this year.

UUUM manages YouTube celebrities, who earn income from posts on the video-sharing site. It debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers market Wednesday, ending the session with bids of up to 4,715 yen, or 2.3 times the listing price. "We hope to create new businesses, like e-commerce based around videos," CEO Kazuki Kamada said.

Forty-six companies have gone public in Japan so far in 2017, with the full-year total seen reaching 80 to 90. The highest tally in the last decade was 92 in 2015.

Many are startups developing new technology-related services. Take PKSHA Technology, an AI venture strong in image recognition and other algorithms that is slated to go public Sept. 22. Toyota Motor plans to invest in the company in hopes of applying its technology to self-driving cars.

"The rise of open innovation," where companies develop new technologies in partnership with one another, "will provide tailwinds to new IPOs," said Tomohiro Suzuki of audit company KPMG Azsa.

Financial technology is a hot field as well. Loadstar Capital, a crowdfunding platform for real estate investment, goes public Sept. 28. Money Forward, the company behind a budget-tracking platform with more than 5 million users, follows suit the next day.

Flea market app provider Mercari could also hold its much-anticipated IPO this year.

(Nikkei)

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