RealTime IT News

Net Perceptions Enters JV With 3 Japanese Firms

With an eye to securing a firm foothold in Japan's burgeoning Internet market, US-based Net Perceptions Inc. signed an agreement with three leading Japanese information technology firms to launch an enterprise e-commerce joint venture.

Joining in the formation of Net Perceptions Japan are Trans Cosmos, a comprehensive information services company; NTT Software, an NTT group company specializing in enterprise information and communications applications; and Toyo Information Systems, which focuses on strategic enterprise deployment of information technologies.

The major shareholders in the new company are Net Perceptions Inc. (45 percent) and Trans Cosmos (40 percent).

NTT Software holds a 10 percent share, with Toyo Information Systems taking the remaining 5 percent.

Net Perceptions is a leading developer and supplier of real-time recommendation technologies -- software that tracks individuals' purchases to "learn" their preferences, thereby enabling vendors to personalize future offerings and make specific product recommendations.

Askul, a subsidiary of Japan's second-largest stationery and office equipment supplier, Plus Corp., in December 1998 became Net Perceptions first customer in Japan.

Askul uses Net Perceptions' Real-time Recommendation Engine (RRE) on its office supplies sales Web site, and is adapting RRE to support its telephone-based sales system as well.

Plans call for Net Perceptions Japan to be formally established in August and begin operations in September, with Trans Cosmos supplying several experienced employees to get the venture quickly underway. Trans Cosmos will also handle software localization and provide additional support and consulting services for the new company.

The joint venture will begin to deal directly with Net Perceptions' Japanese customers to make product sale and servicing a seamless experience.

"Our plans include localizing products, training, and service conveniently to Japanese customers. This is a big advantage as this market continues to mirror the U.S. in its Web evolution," Snyder said.

Japanese adoption of home PCs and Internet technologies currently trails the US by about four or five years, with only about 11 percent of Japanese households having an Internet connection.

If Japan follows US trends, however, domestic growth of e-commerce will soon begin to surge.

"What this all adds up to," said Snyder, "is an unmatched opportunity to create significant growth in our business over the next four years. If the interest in Net Perceptions' products in the US is any indicator of what we can expect in Japan, then we are very optimistic about our long-term potential in this market."

Software suitable for a large-scale online shop (100,000-plus customers) will reportedly be priced at about 12 million yen (US$102,000).

Net Perceptions Japan is targeting fiscal year 2000 software, hardware, and systems integration revenues of 250 million yen (US$2.20 million).