As a leading mobile solution provider, Cybird employs cutting-edge technologies to create a wide-range of entertainment and information services that Japan's main mobile phone carriers are offering to their mobile phone users.
Every so often the world is changed because someone acquires an unrelenting penchant for something. Take Kazutomo Robert Hori, CEO and Founder of Cybird Co, Ltd., who became attached to his cell phone back in 1995. "During that time I could not live without my mobile phone," says Hori, "Which made me think that other people would soon feel the same about theirs."
The same year Hori was contemplating mobile phone futures he was also trying to get his fledgling web content business, Paradise Web, solvent. "My friend and I started the company, where we were one of the first content providers in Japan offering services, such as AOL does today," says Hori, "Though we had lots of subscribers, we had a problem--there was no way we could charge for the services we provided. Web advertising was not yet booming and the press was writing about the dangers of using credit cards on the Internet," says Hori.
The solution? Hori looked to his cell phone--and Japan's mobile phone carriers. "It seemed that the mobile telephone bill could serve as a nice tool to charge end users," says Hori." After exploring various options, Hori began contacting Japan's mobile carriers, suggesting they put a Web browsing system on the mobile phone. "And that's how it all got started�" says Hori.
Providing web browsing content for Japan's mobile phone carriers
Though Japan's mobile phone carriers were hot to add Web browsing to cell phones, it was no done deal, says Hori. At the time, mobile phones had small screens, wimpy batteries and were much bigger and heavier. There was also no infrastructure to support any kind of (e-commerce) system related to the Internet, says Hori, "It took us about four years to set these things up with the carriers--then we launched Cybird in 1998."
Cybird now offers over sixty kinds of information and content services to mobile users through Japan's main mobile Internet services, including NTT DoCoMo's i-mode, KDDI's EZweb and HLINK, and J-Phone's J-Sky, says Hori. "We offer entertainment and information services--from games, horoscope and weather options to "Wave Legend" for surfers, which has the latest news on wave conditions. We're also one of the first companies to start mobile phone e-commerce services--so now Japanese parents can use a mobile phone to buy their kids' video games, such as the Sony PlayStation, which is very popular here in Japan."
Intel Capital Invests in Cybird
In 1998, Hori says he was introduced to Intel Capital by a group of venture capitalists. "From the moment we met, we wanted to work with Intel Capital--especially when I saw how interested they were in what we were doing," says Hori.
As the two company's teams met further, it became clear that both were aiming their sites at 3G mobile phones, to become commercially available in the 2001 timeframe. "When we heard key Intel executives say they were going to put a lot of energy into the next generation of mobile phones, I said, 'Wow, that's what we've been waiting for�'"
In meeting with Cybird, the Intel Capital team saw that the company was well established as a content and service provider for mobile phones with browser capabilities--and that Cybird had the technical savvy to develop and provide rich data content and services to take advantage of the upcoming 3G mobile phone's wide bandwidth and high performance CPU. In January 2000, after a due diligence investigation, Intel Capital invested in Cybird to help ensure the availability of rich data content for 3G mobile phones, given Intel's activities in the 3G mobile phone market segment with its upcoming Intel� StrongARM�2 processor products.
A mutually beneficial relationship
Today, Cybird has over one million registered users in Japan, has launched Cybird Korea, an affiliated company in August 2000, and has demonstrated the first application of Java-based content for wireless phones in June 2000. Cybird is also providing mobile content consultation services worldwide for carriers who want to start mobile phone Internet services, says Hori. "As we grow, we're shifting also into B2B services, to help other companies mobilize their assets."
Besides the monetary assistance the investment has offered, Hori claims that Intel Capital's portfolio company networking activities have been invaluable in helping Cybird transition into a worldwide company. "We wanted to be a global company, yet sometimes it's difficult to know where to start," says Hori. "Then when we received the investment, I was invited to Intel Capital's portfolio company events--and have attended most of them."
According to Hori, the portfolio company events gave him a chance to meet many companies from many different countries--some of which Cybird will work with. "It also changed our company culture, working with Intel, our first foreign company. It has sparked a complete change in the atmosphere of our (Tokyo) office."
In addition, the relationship has been a good collaboration technology-wise, says Hori. "We have been working together a lot, since Intel is preparing a chipset for 3G mobile phones. We have been collaborating with Intel on this, where Intel is providing the evaluation board with the new chip set and Cybird is providing content that is especially designed for 3G mobile phones. Together, our companies have created a demo to show what is next in 3G mobile phones to the rest of the world, which we jointly unveiled at the Intel Developers Forum in Japan earlier this year."
While Cybird benefits greatly from the relationship with Intel, it definitely goes both ways, says Hori. "In working with us, Intel learns a lot about next generation mobile phones, what content will work on them, as well as what is on mobile phone carrier's minds--their strategy, how they view the marketplace and what they want in a 3G phone. Overall, the investment has been very beneficial to us both."
Cybird Co, Ltd.
"From my experience, the Intel Capital team (and Intel) are highly professional people to work with, and I've really enjoyed the experience. Working with professionals that possess such a high level of knowledge makes it much easier--and allows both our companies to achieve something really big. Not only do I enjoy such collaboration--it has brought Cybird many new opportunities and satisfying results as well�"
Kazutomo Robert Hori
Cybird Co, Ltd
AT A GLANCE...
Cybird Co, Ltd.
Kazutomo Robert Hori
For more information, contact Cybird Co, Ltd., .
Last updated: January 2001
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