- DeNA begins operations as a private company
The small apartment office where it all started.
- Transitions to a joint-stock corporation and changes its name to DeNA Co., Ltd.
- Moves headquarters to Tomigaya in Shibuya, Tokyo
- Moves headquarters to Kamiyama-cho in Shibuya, Tokyo
- Launches the auction site Bidders
Current President & CEO Isao Moriyasu celebrates the launch of Bidders with the team.
Leaving Common Sense Behind
Since DeNA was founded, one motto has remained true: if there is belief in an idea, it must be seen through to the end. While this has not been a foolproof strategy, even in failure the company has used those experiences to reaffirm its bold policy of leaving common sense at the door and trusting its instincts. This way of thinking is evident today, as DeNA continues to set its sights on greater and greater challenges.
Consultants are paid to advise, but are often unable to actually bring their own recommendations to fruition. Tomoko Namba was not satisfied with simply advising, and when the opportunity arose to do more she didn't hesitate.
After turning down one of her proposals, a former client encouraged Tomoko herself to take on the challenge. She believed in the idea, so with that, she left behind her life as a partner at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and founded DeNA.
She started small with a single service, following through on her proposal of an online auction service, but her ambitions were not so limited. From the beginning, Tomoko was aiming to create a company that would last not for years or decades, but for centuries.
DeNA's founder Tomoko Namba sitting at her desk in the early days.
When development began it looked as though Bidders would be first to the market. However, just two months before the site was to go live, Yahoo! Japan unexpectedly launched its own auction service. This was a huge blow, immediately threatening Bidders with little to no market share against the IT giant.
But that was not all. Just a month before Bidders' launch the team realized that the site's backend development, which DeNA had outsourced to another firm, was nowhere near completion. When the site opened for business, the stopgap system in place only allowed users to bid, not list their items for sale.
The disaster made the team realize the importance of developing their own production and development skills. Without such resources in place at DeNA, the company surely wouldn't be around for years, let alone centuries.
Founder Tomoko Namba addressing the team at the launch of Bidders.
- Launches Bidders E-commerce Platform
- Moves headquarters to Hatagaya in Shibuya, Tokyo
The office building where DeNA worked from as it struggled to make Bidders a success.
- Club Bidders, VIP services for enterprise members, is launched
- Bidders gains legitimacy with certification under Japan's Antique Business Law
- The Bidders shopping services are branded as Bidders Shopping
The business landscape in Japan at that time was ruled by a "winner takes all" mentality. If a service or product wasn't No. 1 in the market, everyone doubted the company would be able to survive for long. Members of DeNA wanted to buck this mindset and show the importance of competition in the marketplace, despite the uphill battle facing the Bidders service.
This proved a significant challenge as DeNA's management was eager to diversify and move on to new businesses. Realizing the importance of turning a profit before expanding their portfolio, however, they continued to focus on their sole service. And against all odds, the company was soon rewarded for their choice as DeNA become profitable in 2002.
With new wind in their sails, the management team made the decision that would set the stage for their dramatic growth. Specifically, they shifted their focus and made it their aim to be the No. 1 mobile web service provider in Japan.
- Bidders certified under Japan's Antique Business Law
- Moves headquarters to Sasazuka in Shibuya, Tokyo
- Launches mobile auction site Mobaoku
- Launches Pocket Bidders
- Launches the Pocket Affiliate program
Taking full advantage of the momentum, DeNA decided to establish the mobile auction service Mobaoku (Moh-bah-oh-koo). This time around, the company chose to develop an entirely new system for the service, even though it was basically just a mobile version of Bidders.
Common sense would dictate that the company's infrastructure and existing user base could simply be used for the new mobile service, but aiming for the No. 1 spot called for a completely new approach. In just three months DeNA's engineers built a whole new system from the ground up and the company saw the wisdom of their choice, with Mobaoku jumping to the top spot.
DeNA's founder Tomoko Namba ringing the Tokyo Stock Exchange bell to start the day's trading.
- Launches the au Auction mobile site (later renamed au one Mobaoku)
- Pocket Bidders becomes the first auction service on i-mode's official menu
- DeNA is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Mothers, the section for fast-growing start-up companies
- Launches Mobage Town (later renamed Mobage)
- Launches au Shopping Mall
- Establishes Mobakore as a subsidiary
- Establishes Paygent as a subsidiary
- Acquires Air Link and Takimoto
- Establishes its first foreign subsidiary - DeNA Beijing
- Launches payment escrow services via Paygent
- Launches Mobapay for Mobaoku au auction (later renamed au one Mobaoku)
- Launches business-to-business marketplace Netsea
As is often the case for IT companies, DeNA could not continue to grow by relying on what led it to profitability in the first place. The company saw that the Japanese mobile web market had reached its limit and that it was time to look elsewhere for new opportunities.
Following its international experience in China, the company decided to put its newly found know-how to use by reaching out across the Pacific to Silicon Valley. There DeNA forged a relationship with ngmoco, establishing it as the company's new base of operations for global expansion.
- Launches mobile shopping site Mobadepa
- DeNA subsidiary Air Link launches international reservation website Soramaru
- DeNA's first television commercial is aired in Japan
- Acquires Skygate
- Launches the Comprehensive Insurance Center website on Air Link, providing a one-stop insurance shopping destination
- DeNA is listed in the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange
- Launches social network Shumee-to Club, targeting middle-aged and senior citizens
- Establishes DeNA Global in the U.S.
- Moves headquarters to Yoyogi in Shibuya, Tokyo
- Merges Air Link and Skygate
- Mobage Town membership surpasses 10 million
- Opens Mobage Town Niigata Customer Center
- Launches youth helpline Mobage Town Emergency Call
- Launches mobile ad network Pocket Match
- Launches beta version of MobaMingle, a social network for English-speaking countries
- Begins charity fundraising efforts via Mobage Town
- Acquires Chinese mobile social network operator WAPTX
- Opens Mobage Town to third-party developers
- Launches first-party social game Kaito Royale on Mobage Town
- Establishes the Mobile Affiliate Council
- Releases third-party games on the Mobage Open Platform
- Establishes Everystar as a subsidiary
- Establishes business partnership with Yahoo! Japan
- Invests in Incubate Fund to support new ventures
- Officially launches E*Everystar
- Mobage Town membership surpasses 20 million
- Acquires U.S.-based Gameview Studios
- Makes a capital tie-up with U.S.-based Astro Ape Studios
- Officially launches Yahoo! Mobage
- Acquires U.S.-based mobile game developer ngmoco
- Mobage Town becomes smartphone compatible
- Mobage Town is rebranded as Mobage
- Mobage app for Android devices is released
- Isao Moriyasu becomes president
- Establishes DeNA Seoul in South Korea
- Launches Mobage in China, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia
- Establishes DeNA Asia Pacific Holdings in Singapore.
- Acquires Punch Entertainment's Vietnam Studio
- Acquires Atakama Labs in Chile
- Acquires Yokohama DeNA BayStars professional baseball team
Continuing the DeNA Way
With the worldwide expansion of its mobile gaming business, DeNA officially announced its arrival on the global stage. Learning from its past failures and successes, the company focused on producing innovative services, venturing into new industries, and leaving common sense behind in order to reach new heights.
- Establishes DeNA Studios Canada
- Moves headquarters to the Shibuya Hikarie building in Shibuya, Tokyo
- Launches e-commerce site builder Zerostore
- Launches messaging service Comm
- Establishes the Japan Social Game Association with five other companies
- Unveils new company logo and branding
- Launches music player app Groovy
- Establishes official athletics team DeNA Running Club
- Establishes advisory board
- Establishes DeNA Life Science as a subsidiary
- Launches direct-to-consumer genetic testing service Mycode
- Acquires curation platform operators Iemo and Peroli
- Launches curation platform business
- Launches DeNA Ad Platform across DeNA Group services
- Forms capital and business alliance with Nintendo
- Establishes Robot Taxi as a joint venture with ZMP
- Air Link is rebranded as DeNA Travel
- Begins streaming licensed Japanese anime through MyAnimeList
- Launches mobile screensharing app Mirrativ
- Launches peer-to-peer car sharing app Anyca
- Yokohama Stadium becomes subsidiary