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日本会计软件公司Freee完成6000万美元E轮融资

会计软件公司Freee总部位于日本,现已成为日本最著名的初创企业之一。该公司已获得了6000万美元的E轮融资,试图将其服务拓展到其他管理领域,获取更多客户。

Freee成立于六年前。在2013年该公司刚刚获得A轮融资时, TechCrunch就对它进行过报道。目前,Freee已经成为日本成立时间最长的初创公司之一,而这一轮融资对日本来说也是一笔大数目。日本创业生态系统的文化环境鼓励各个公司创始人把他们公司对外亮相的时间提前,这样可以减轻一些风险,但也有其他备选方法,比如Freee这一轮的融资,当然还有最近Mercari的首次公开募股。Mercari于今年夏天上市,融资金额已经超过10亿美元。

“日本是一个非常尊重先例的国家。” Freee创始人兼首席执行官Daisuke Sasaki在接受TechCrunch采访时表示: “目前的情况将大大改变文化现状。我们公司将保持私有,继续投资增长。日本创业生态系统还没有改变,但初创企业、创始人和风投机构现在有了更多的选择。”

Freee是日本最早从海外投资者那里获得融资的初创公司之一,这一行为使得日本风投公司对该公司和Saas产生了浓厚的兴趣。而在这一轮的融资中,Freee从一些有名的大公司那里获得了支持,比如聊天软件公司Line、三菱日联金融集团(MUFG)——日本最大的银行——消费信贷公司Life Card和几个不知名的国际机构投资者。

DCM和Infinity Investments是这家初创公司最早的支持者。

如今,Freee提供基于云计算的会计和人力资源软件,并声称拥有超过100万个商业账户。该公司拥有超过5000名注册会计师顾问,他们帮助其接触新客户,并将其应用到自己的工作中。该公司表示,逾3500款应用和服务(主要包括金融产品)正在与其软件进行整合。

Sasaki之前在谷歌任职。对于Freee的未来,他表示该公司将使用这个新资本来构建一个API生态系统,进行更多的对外合作。目前,该公司已经与一些公司实现了合作,其中包括Slack和Salesforce。Freee公司正计划与Line公司进行重大合作,使Line的业务客户能够将他们的应用程序和Freee的软件相结合,同时它也在探索如何在Line Pay方面实现合作。

Freee还专注于扩大其服务的范围,希望其产品能够帮助完成更普遍的管理和运营任务。

“我们不仅要关注后线部门,还要通过仪表盘、报表和洞察力为客户增加价值,让他们的业务变得更好。”使用现有业务报表的客户增长速度更快。我们的愿景是通过人工智能提供更好的见解和商业建议。为此,我们需要更多的数据,不仅是后线数据,还有前线数据。” Sasaki说。

最后,这家初创公司正在探索各种方式,使银行和金融机构能够与客户群体更紧密地合作。客户已经可以在Freee内部共享数据,供银行评估贷款和其他信贷产品。该公司还正在了解引入一个市场的可能性。引入市场后,其客户就有机会以更优惠的利率享受金融产品。

Sasaki在接受采访时表示:“最初,我们把目光集中在小企业上,但现在我们最大的客户有几百名员工,所以我们正在进军高端市场。”

但是,Freee目前不会进军海外市场,至少可以这么说。Sasak解释说,公司希望在向新国家拓展业务之前,建立一个由联网服务和更深入的商业工具组成的扩展生态系统。

SmartHR是Freee的一个较年轻的竞争对手,专门从事人力资源方面的工作。今年早些时候,该公司筹集了1330万美元进军工资等领域。这可能会开始对Freee构成威胁,尤其是考虑到SmartHR是一个开发平台,可以为第三方应用和服务提供支持。

Japan-based accounting software company Freee, one of the country’s most-prominent startups, has raised a $60 million Series E funding round as it bids to expand its services into other areas of management for its customers.

Freee was founded six years ago — we wrote about the startup when it raised a Series A in 2013 — which makes it one of the ‘oldest’ startups in Japan, while this round is also a large one for the country, too. Japan’s startup ecosystem has a culture that encourages founders to take their companies’ public earlier than in most parts of the world, to mitigate some risk, but there are signs of alternative approaches that include this round and of course the recent IPO of Mercari, which went public this summer and raised over $1 billion.

“Japan is a country that respects precedent a lot,” Freee founder and CEO Daisuke Sasaki told TechCrunch in an interview. “Having present cases will change [the culture] a lot, we are staying private and investing in growth. The ecosystem isn’t changing [yet] but [startups, founders and VCs] now have more options.”

Free was one of the first Japanese startups to raise from overseas investors, a move that helped get Japanese VCs interested in enterprise and Saas, and this time around it has pulled in capital from a bunch of big names: Chat app company Line, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) — Japan’s largest bank — consumer credit firm Life Card and “several [unnamed] international institutional investors.”

DCM and Infinity Investments are among the startup’s earliest backers.

Today, Freee offers cloud-based accounting and HR software and it claims to have over one million business accounts. It has over 5,000 certified accountant advisors — who help it reach new customers and also use it for their own work — and the company said that over 3,500 apps and services, including mainly financial products, are integration with its software.

Going forward, Sasaki — who is a former Googler — said Freee will use this new capital to build out an API ecosystem to enable more integrations — some of its practical ones right now include Slack and Salesforce  — while it is planning a major collaboration with Line to allow Line business customers to integrate their use of the app with Free, while it is exploring how it can collaborate around Line Pay.

Freee is also focused on expanding the scope of its services to branch out into products that help with more general management and operational tasks.

“We want to focus not only on back office but also to add value to customers to make their businesses better through dashboards, reporting and insight. Customers who use the [existing business] reports grow faster. Our vision is to give much better insight and business advice through AI [and] to do that we need more data, not just back office but front line too,” Sasaki said.

Finally, the startup is exploring ways it can enable banks and financial organizations to work more closely with its customer base. Already customers can share data within Freee to banks for assessment for loans and other credit products, and the company is exploring the potential to introduce a marketplace that would give its customers a place to scout out financial products at more preferential rates.

“Initially we focused on small business but now our biggest customers have a couple of hundred employees so we are going upmarket,” Sasaki told TechCrunch.

One area Freee won’t be moving into is overseas markets. Yet at least. Sasaki explained that the company wants to build out that vision of an expanded ecosystem of connected services and more in-depth business tools before branching out into new countries.

SmartHR, a younger rival to free which specializes in HR as the name suggests, raised $13.3 million earlier this year to push on into areas such as payroll and more. That could begin to pose a threat to Freee, particularly since SmartHR a developer platform to hose third-party applications and services.

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