The Los Angeles-headquartered startup offers a number of products and services (when Fuhu raised its Series B from Acer, we described it as an “avatar startup”), but the one that attracted KDDI’s interest is the nabi 2, an Android tablet built specifically for kids.
KDDI Chief Strategy Officer Kazuhiko Masuda told me that there’s a big opportunity in Japan to move kids’ content and educational content into the digital world, and his team decided that the nabi tablet was the best way to make that happen. He was particularly impressed by the kid-friendly interface and Fuhu’s good relationship with various content providers. Masuda said that KDDI’s reach (among other things, the company has 35 million wireless subscribers through its au brand, making it the second-largest cellular provider in Japan) should give Fuhu a big push into the Japanese market. However, the company isn’t ready to offer any details about the Japanese version of the product, or to provide a launch date.
Since launching the $60 million Open Innovation Fund earlier this year, KDDI has already invested in four Japanese startups — Tolot, Giftee, Social Lunch, and JMTY. Masuda said he’s definitely interested in making more U.S. investments, especially since the tech industry is moving at “top speed” here: “The Japanese market is more conservative.”
To that end, KDDI also opened a small office in San Francisco last year to scout out possible partnerships and investments. Yesterday, for example, Twilio announced that KDDI would be its first big international licensing partner.
Fuhu, Inc., creators of the Nabi Pad, Fooz Kids, and urDrive, is a leading provider of cloud-served software, applications, and services that are dedicated to creating deep and engaging user experiences on a range of consumer devices. Products include urDrive, a preloaded software solution on select Kingston USB Flash Drives that provides “follow me” content; Spinlets Plus, a global PC and Android cloud-served music solution; and Fooz Kids, a downloadable application that kiddifies your computer with apps, controlled by...
Tokyo-based KDDI Corporation is a Japanese telecommunications operator. It was created in 2000 through a merger of DDI, KDD and IDO and now employs over 15,000 people. The company provides a broad range of services, including fixed-line phone communication, mobile phone and web services, and Internet services. KDDI’s mobile phone and web arm is branded as “au”. The company is the current No. 2 in Japan’s mobile communications market, trailing NTT docomo and ahead of SoftBank.