We launched Business Insider Japan last night — here’s how we celebrated

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Business Insider Japan’s front page on launch day.
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Screenshot/Business Insider Japan

Ten days ago, I traveled to Tokyo to help Business Insider launch its latest international edition.

After many days of hard work and preparation by our Japanese team, Business Insider Japan went live officially on Monday at noon local time.

Over the past several years, Business Insider has launched local editions in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, and, of course, the UK, among others.

To celebrate the launch, Mediagene, our Japanese partner company, arranged a packed day of press conferences and parties.

Here’s what happened.


A press conference was scheduled for 1 p.m. local time at The National Art Center in Roppongi, a posh neighborhood in Tokyo known for its nightclub scene. NACT features dozens of art exhibitions each year.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

I arrived early with members of the Business Insider Japan team, including tech editor Ryosuke Nakanishi and director of development Bunzo Ono.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

A lot of people were expected to attend the press conference. Business Insider Japan’s launch has been hotly anticipated in the business and technology sectors.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

New media has yet to overtake print among Japanese readers, and there is no similar digital business publication in the country.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Plenty of Business Insider swag was provided to attendees, who were mostly company executives, advertisers, and media journalists.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Ono made sure to stream the event on Facebook Live, which has become a popular broadcasting medium for Business Insider over the past year.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The event began with an introduction to the Business Insider brand by Rich Kennedy, our senior vice president of business and audience development.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

A translator was available to translate the presentation for the primarily Japanese-speaking audience.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Many of the concepts that Kennedy talked about, like how the digital medium is fundamentally different from print or television, were new to the audience. Japan’s top three printed newspapers are the most subscribed in the world. The first US paper on the list, The Wall Street Journal, is 12th.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: WAN-IFRA


As in the rest of the world, however, newspaper readers skew older. Young Japanese are moving toward digital media sources like Business Insider.

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Data taken from a National Media Survey conducted by Pressnet in Japan in 2013.
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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Next up was Roddy Salazar, Business Insider’s vice president of international. Salazar talked about the company’s recent push to open branches all over the world.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Business Insider Japan’s editor-in-chief, Koji Yakou, gave his pitch next. Yakou is the former editor of IT Media Marketing, a popular Japanese marketing website.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

After the presentations, Salazar, Kennedy, Yakou, and Hiroto Kobayashi, Business Insider Japan’s publisher, sat for a lengthy Q&A session. Kobayashi is the former editor-in-chief of Wired Japan.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Advertisers peppered the panelists with questions about BI’s revenue strategy and prospects for the Japan market.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Salazar and Kennedy wore earpieces so that questions could be translated to them in real time.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Meet the team! Business Insider Japan is a partnership between Business Insider and Mediagene, a Japanese digital media company that has launched Japanese-language editions of Gizmodo, Lifehacker, and Digiday.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Mediagene


There was a break of a few hours after the press conference before the official launch party started.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

At about 6:30 p.m., BI Japan’s editorial team and I headed to the Ritz Carlton in Roppongi for the official launch party.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

It took a little while to find the ballroom. We got lost in the hallways.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

It didn’t matter. We were still early. Staff members were on hand with wine and refreshments.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Many attendees were already there, but most were waiting in the hallway. I was told that, traditionally, partygoers wait until most people have arrived so they can greet acquaintances properly.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

It is customary in Japan to exchange business cards when meeting other people. When meeting someone new, it is respectful to bow and present your business card with both hands.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Motoko Imada, the CEO of Mediagene and Infobahn, Mediagene’s parent company, welcomed guests to the launch party.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider


Kennedy gave a short version of his earlier presentation on the Business Insider brand.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Ono streamed the entire event to Facebook Live.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The crowd listened intently as Kennedy talked about what made Business Insider different from other publications. Salazar and Yakou followed with their pitches.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Time to eat! These roast-beef appetizers were delicious.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Sushi was of course on hand.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

And these colorful cherry-looking hors d’oeuvre. Despite their appearance, they were not cherries. I can’t tell you exactly what they were, but they tasted egg-based and savory.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

While partygoers mingled, drank, and munched on the snacks, Yakou led a panel on the future of digital media.

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From left: Keiko Hamada, former editor of Aera Magazine; Daisuke Furuta, founding editor of BuzzFeed Japan; Ryuichiro Takeshita, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Japan; and Koji Yakou, editor-in-chief of Business Insider Japan.
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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Imada ran the next panel on entrepreneurship in media.

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From left: Takashi Kusano, president of Brainpad; Yasuyoshi Yanagisawa, CEO of FAN Communications; Nobuya Ishizaka, president of Golf Digest; and Motoko Imada.
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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The last panel was moderated by Kobayashi on women and business media.

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From left: Etsuko Okajima, CEO of ProNova; Chiaki Hayashi, CEO of Loftwork; Yukiko Unno, deputy general manager of Business Development at NHK Enterprises; and Kobayashi.
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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

After the party ended, Imada gave a speech thanking Mediagene employees for their hard work. Kennedy, Salazar, and I then each gave a toast to the team.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Finally, time for celebratory drinks!

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Business Insider has 14 international editions.

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