Hear the investment philosophy of Japan’s largest CVC ‘Z venture capital’
The Teheran Road Funding Club, which introduces major domestic and foreign venture capital firms to the startup ecosystem, was organized by Startup Alliance on the 25th. Launched in 2017, the Teheran Road Funding Club is an evening networking event where investment firms share their vision and philosophy with the industry and talk about their portfolio, history, and investment size.
On that day, Yousik Han, Director of Z venture capital (ZVC), a Japanese CVC (corporate-led venture capital), introduced ZVC and answered questions. Established in 2021, ZVC is the CVC of Z Holdings, a joint venture between Naver (LINE) and SoftBank (Yahoo Japan), whose subsidiaries include the global mobile platform LINE and Yahoo Japan. Z Holdings is one of the largest Internet companies in Japan, with more than 23,000 employees and more than 200 services in Japan.
ZVC has established a JPY 30 billion fund, ZVC 1 Investment Partnership, in 2021. It is one of the largest CVCs in Japan and seeks investment opportunities in global markets, including Japan, Korea, the U.S., China and Southeast Asia, etc. ZVC seeks to discover, invest in, nurture and support new technology companies that can be synergized with the Z Holdings ecosystem, including Yahoo, LINE, ZOZO, SoftBank and NAVER. Since its inception, ZVC has invested in 221 companies and made 68 follow-on investments. As a result, 22 companies have gone public and 7 companies have exited through mergers and acquisitions.
Yousik Han, Director of ZVC, said, “ZVC maximizes the enterprise value of startups by investing like a traditional VC. As a CVC, we also provide business cooperation opportunities for both startups and Z Holdings Group to grow and benefit together.” “In particular, we invest in all stages from seed to mid-to-late stage to support continuous growth. For our portfolio companies, we also provide various business cooperation opportunities within the Z Holdings Group network to help them expand their business overseas.”
Mr. Han continued, “ZVC’s main investment areas are media, commerce and fintech. We also focus on AI/Big Tech, Web 3.0, healthcare and cybersecurity as technologies that will help Z Holdings in the future.” “ZVC contributes to the growth of startups as the CVC and ‘corporate development arm’ of Z Holdings.”
ZVC is also actively investing in Korean startups. Its Korean portfolio companies include VillageBaby, a parenting information platform startup; kokozi, a children’s audio technology startup; Munto, an interest-based community platform; NINEAM, the operator of creator business SaaS ‘ctee’; RXC, a mobile e-commerce startup; and Break & Company, the operator of trading card service platform ‘break’.
Commenting on ZVC’s investment strategy, Mr. Han said, “ZVC seeks to build long-term relationships with entrepreneurs. We value relationships. We make investments that grow the pie, regardless of stage, because we believe startups need timely interventions at different stages to become stronger in the long run. We want to play a meaningful role as a partner in the entire startup lifecycle, anticipating, understanding and working with entrepreneurs as they face the challenges of building their businesses.”
“Our vision is to make humanity free and in control, and our mission is to update the world and close the distance. With this, our ultimate goal is to become the best CVC in Asia,” he said, adding, “We aim to be the ‘go-between’ between startups and the Z Holdings ecosystem.”
Meanwhile, the Teheran Road Funding Club, which resumed in 2019 after a three-year hiatus, featured a panel discussion and Q&A session with audience questions, followed by a networking event where participants mingled. The event was attended by more than 60 entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as investors and support organizations.