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Exclusive: Twitter-Mining News App SmartNews Raises $36 Million from Atomico and Gree

Ex-WSJ editor Rich Jaroslovsky will lead the effort to bring the Flipboard-esque app into the West.

Japanese newsreading app SmartNews has raised $36 million in new funding, in a round led by growth-stage investment firm Atomico and mobile-social gaming company Gree.

The app is available on both iOS and Android in Japan, and has consistently been a top-five news app on all platforms since shortly after launch, winning best-of awards from both Apple and Google. It uses learning algorithms to surface trending news stories, much like Flipboard, and connects to Twitter to figure out what people are talking about.

As Tech In Asia wrote in February, the startup has also partnered with more than 100 news outlets, including the major newspapers Yomiuri and Nikkei, to complement the Twitter suggestions. Former Wall Street Journal editor Rich Jaroslovsky is reaching out to western media in advance of an American version of the app, planned to launch this fall.

Along with international-focused Atomico, Gree’s San Francisco office might be able to offer some expertise in that arena. Although Japan’s hardcore mobile gamers are still its main focus, Gree’s overseas studios in the U.S., Canada and Korea broke into profitability in the most recent financial quarter.

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