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Startups

Japan AI unicorn Preferred Networks seeks greener pastures

CEO says company can't remain a 'mystery'; looks to teaching and games

Preferred Networks will offer programming lessons, starting in August, using a curriculum it developed through a tie-up with a cram school operator.

TOKYO -- Preferred Networks, a Japanese artificial intelligence startup, is looking for new lines of business. Although the company enjoys backing from a number of big names in Japan, its latest move is motivated by its founder's growing unease over how long it is taking to develop practical uses for its technology.

Preferred Networks was worth an estimated 351.5 billion yen ($3.33 billion) at the end of September last year, making the Tokyo-based company Japan's most valuable "unicorn," according to the Next Unicorn survey published by Nikkei. A unicorn is an unlisted company with a valuation of $1 billion or more.

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