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Ustream Expands to Japan

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Live video firm Ustream has made good on its plans to expand in Asia-Pacific, using new recent funding from Softbank to launch a Japanese version of its website at http://www.ustream.jp.

Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son announced the launch of the new localized Ustream site in Tokyo today. The official Japanese site includes a full translation of all its site features, as well as a section that shows off live shows by Japanese users, in order to make it easier for locals to find those channels. The launch comes just a few months after Japanese mobile phone and Internet operator Softbank invested $20 million in Ustream, giving it a 13.7 percent stake in the company. But Softbank could become Ustream’s top shareholder if it exercises warrants that would bring its investment up to $75 million.

Ustream specializes in live and mobile video streaming, and expansion into Japan — and the Asia-Pacific region in general — should give it a big boost. The startup builds live streaming applications for mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone and Google Android, and has also live streamed a number of events, such as the red carpet premieres of Avatar and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Ustream also recently introduced a pay-per-view service that will allow its customers to begin charging users to view streams of live events.

Ustream now claims 100 million unique users a month, which is up from the 50 million uniques that it claimed in January. Prior to the Softbank funding, Ustream had raised $13 million, including $11.1 million in Series A funding from Doll Capital Management and Band of Angels and an additional $2 million it raised in August 2009.

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