SmartNews Incorporation has raised $28 million in its latest round of funding to increase its total investment to $116 million and valuation to $1.1 billion.
The Series E funding round was led by Japan Post Capital, a fund managed by the national mail conglomerate witnessing participation from returning investors Development Bank of Japan, SMBC Venture Capital, and Japan Co-Invest L.P.
The funding round also allows the company to enter the unicorn list followed by Buzzfeed and Vox Media Incorporation that gained the status roughly four years ago.
Founded in 2012 by Ken Suzuki, a former researcher at the University of Tokyo, the news aggregation app uses AI technology to personalize the news feed for its users.
The app tracks how long a user reads the article to measure its value and accordingly lists relevant news in the news feed of the user. SmartNews has over 400 publishing partners in the US, including the renowned Bloomberg and The Associated Press.
Ken Suzuki, who is also the CEO of the company, expressed his excitement on his company gaining the unicorn status. He stated that the company would continue to share its vision of informed, balanced media consumption with its existing and future users in the US and the rest of the world.
He further quoted, “Personalization makes people’s interests narrower, in general, and we try to use personalization technology to expand those interests.”
SmartNews currently has 20 million active monthly users in the US and Japan and enjoys a growth rate of almost 500% per year. The revenue model of the company is focused on advertisements, including inline ads, video ads, and deals.
The ad spaces are sold to publishers against ‘Smarviews,’ which is in-line with Google’s AMP and Facebook’s Instant Articles.houses 200 employees, most of whom are dedicated to software development division.
SmartNews has made plans to use the hype surrounding around the 2020 US presidential election to boost up its growth and bring in more readers on board.
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