Mixi – Japan’s Online Social Network

Mixi is a Japanese online social networking service founded by Kenji Kasahara- a well-known Japanese entrepreneur and one of the Japan’s richest people- and Akino Harada. Mixi social networking was founded in 2004 and went public in September 2006. It was formed basically as a platform to connect users with their friends within Asia in a more convenient way. In fact its name Mixi came from the words “I can mix” with other user. The headquarters of Mixi Company is in Tokyo, Japan.

After the birth of Mixi Social networking platform, it quickly became the most used social platform within a period of ten years. Through this growth, the founder had achieved his mission of creating an indigenous social platform that would give the users the possibility of fully expressing themselves through a combination of blogs within a personal profile.

Mixi social networking services is managed by the president who is the founder; Mr.Kenji Kasahara together with other eight members of the management team. The social network has over 10 million users and is still constantly growing.

Key feature of Mixi social networking company

Mixi works similar to other social networking sites like Facebook and twitter in that it is also designed with a homepage that displays the user’s friends and latest updates as well as news about their communities.

However, the site had a hard time moderating users as profiles often used celebrity and other inauthentic photos.

Another feature that makes Mixi unique is that each user is limited to one thousand friends. However one can have more than a thousand friends if the account is registered as a celebrity or a relevant public account.

Mixi also has quick and easy loading on the site, unlike other social networks like the Windows Live Spaces.

Mixi social networking has user review where the users and friends can provide ratings and review of books, games, DVDs, among other electronic items. The reviewing feature managed to place Mixi on top of its other competitors.

The company also launched Mixi Music which allows user to not only download music and listen but also to track what their friends and community are listening to.

How Mixi works

Mixi social networked worked just like the Facebook where the user created a profile and sign up using usernames or emails. For identification they would place their photographs or pictures of their preferred objects. There is an minimum of 18 years of age.

Other than providing social linkage to the people of Japan and Asia, Mixi also provides smart phone gaming entertainment services in addition to’ DeployGate’- a smartphone app developers service which enables real device testing of an application using wireless connection. The company has also advanced in services production by developing ‘Plannah’ product that gives an easy way to organize and exchange pictures between friends.

With these kind of services to offer and the target population; Mixi managed to scale the heights of social networking and as at 2006, it had recorded 4-8 million active users and in a couple of months between January and July of the same year it had a steady growth rate of 35% per month. The higher growth rate can also be attributed to the fact that interested persons can easy join after meeting the 18 years and above age requirement.

Mixi accessibility was also only limited to the Japanese citizens since for account verification, the user identity card number was fed into the system.

In 2007, the site launched the services of moving images sharing a development that saw it gain more users. In the launching, Mr. Kasahara [the Mixi founder] pointed out, “It is a natural evolution that more and more people enjoy video images and music via the internet and I expect that laws will change eventually to satisfy right holders and users alike.”

The growth curve and performance matrices of Mixi social networking

From the time of inception in 2004, the social network recorded the highest number of users and by 2006 it had managed to attract five million users. In 2007, the company recorded a steady growth and attained 10 million users.

The company grew steadily in the subsequent years until in the year 2010 and 2011 it had recorded an amazing number of 20 million users.

However, with the absolute dominance of Facebook and Twitter, the Mixi social network began to show a decreased number of users and sign ups.


Mixi competitors in the Social Network Services

Mixi enjoyed being the most preferred social network service in Japan due to its features that incorporated the secretive attribute of Japanese who are also shy. Mixi did well for a longer time as an indigenous platform hence presenting an impermeable shield for other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

However, Twitter managed to penetrate into Japan after presenting an invasive nature and the possibility to be active on the platform with fantasy profile enabling Twitter to be the 3rd most used platform in Japan in 2012.

Facebook, the dominant global social network, presented the most threatening competition to Mixi in terms of active users. In Japan, Facebook now has 15 million users which are approximately 15% of the total Japanese population. This proves that Mixi has been down-played by its key competitor. However, it still remains the most preferred indigenous social network service.

Explanations have been generated to try to explain the success of Facebook in Mixi domain. A 2011 study presented that Facebook early adopters in Japan were lured by the possibility of getting in contact with foreign people.

The drop in Mixi social network user presented a challenge to the management team and in addressing the issue, Kenji Kasahara said, “Our site is the destination for 8 million registered members…It is difficult for late comers to enter the market.” In Japan Times (Feb 8, 2007)

Investment rounds and Mixi investors

Mixi also depends on other parties and stakeholders to run its services. The recent reports by Crunchbase.com show that Mixi made two investment of $14.8 M to Muse Company in 2015 with undisclosed terms and one was also made in 2013 to YouBridge where it invested $10M.

Mixi Social network service has also made two rounds of investment in other companies like SmartNews Inc. to whom it invested $36M in 2014 and ¥72 M to Study plus in 2013.

Mixi, through Monster Strike- a smart phone gaming application by Mixi- makes $3.8 million every day making it Japan’s second billion dollar game that brings a lot of revenue to Japan’s economy. Analyst and consultant Serkan Toto told GamesBeat that, “I personally have little doubt that Monster Strike’s overall revenue will climb higher when downloads go up.”

The end of the tale for Mixi is not yet clear. And while they’re clearly losing ground, quickly, to the more globally dominant social networks, Mixi may, like many other companies, find generous revenue streams in some of their side projects like gaming and peer reviewing.