Kitsu.Io, an online manga/anime open source content delivery and discovery platform, received $600,000 in seed money from Viz Media and Bernard Chong, and, as part of the investment, Bernard Chong and Viz’s Chief Marketing Officer Brad Woods will join the Kitsu board. Additionally, Viz’s Vice President of Business Development Rob Pereyda will serve as Senior Advisor.
The Kitsu platform is
Built atop the modern web frameworks Ruby on Rails and Ember, the Kitsu platform (formerly Hummingbird) will remain open-source and be available to other entrepreneurs to use to drive their own discovery and social capabilities. The seed round investment from Bernard Chong and VIZ Media coincides with a ground-up rewrite and redesign of the Kitsu platform, now placing a greater emphasis on the social component of a user’s experience.
While a key selling point of the platform for many users has been the functionality to track the anime and manga they’ve seen and are planning to see, “Version 3” of the platform heavily focuses on the social aspect, leveraging a robust machine learning engine to surface content users will be more likely to enjoy, including not just one-to-one, show-to-show recommendation pairings, but sophisticated taste-based content cohorts (interest clusters).
The acquired seed money will be used to “build out world-class content discovery capabilities.”
Kitsu.Io is currently open for sign-ups in a Beta phase, and you can create your own account through this link. Long time users of other anime/manga dedicated sites, such as myanimelist, can import their data to Kitsu when they sign up. I created an account a few minutes ago, and found their library of anime and manga recommendations to be extremely wide-ranging, although for some reason, I couldn’t find an entry for Mob Psycho 100 under anime, but only manga. This seems to be the only lacuna in what looks like a very comprehensive anime and manga data bank.
“What makes me most excited about where Kitsu is going is how easy it’s going to be to connect with other anime and manga fans,” said Josh Fabian, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kitsu. “We’ve been very proactive and thoughtful about how exactly to approach the social component of anime, and we think what we have will continue to drive that conversation moving forward.”
“We’re thrilled to be working with Josh and the Kitsu team to bring this content to a wider audience,” said Brad Woods, Chief Marketing Officer at VIZ Media. “The features that are being rolled out with the new platform are really exciting, and we believe they will drive engagement for the anime industry as a whole.”
“Discovery is one of the great challenges in the entertainment world today,” said Bernard Chong. “With Josh, I see an incredible entrepreneur with the product chops to help drive consumption, monetization and just plain joy in the business, and to me that is exciting.”