SmartNews, a Tokyo, San Francisco and New York-based news-discovery mobile app, raised $38m in Series D financing.
The round was led by Development Bank of Japan, with participation from SMBC Venture Capital and Japan Co-Invest L.P. (managed by Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Investment).
The company, which has now raised $90m in total funding, intends to use the funds to accelerate growth, hiring and business development, and to expand research and development of its specialized machine learning technology for news discovery.
Led by Ken Suzuki and Kaisei Hamamoto, SmartNews delivers stories that typical social news feeds and other news apps often miss by leveraging proprietary machine learning technology evaluating more than 10 million articles a day. The app employs no human editors, and rather than attempt to over-personalize the news, its algorithms are optimized for discovery and diversity in order to expose users to a wider variety of stories and topics.
The company has partnered with more than 250 publishers in Japan, 150 in the U.S., and others, totaling more than 1,500 publications, including CNN, NBC, Time, the BBC, Fox News, The Huffington Post and TechCrunch, to distribute content directly on the SmartNews platform. In addition, publishers who place their own advertising on SmartNews’s distribution platform keep 100% of their own advertising and can receive additional revenue from SmartNews Ads (in Japan)—and gain real-time analytics and audience insights.
The iOS or Android app has been downloaded more than 18m times worldwide.