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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • Softbank Accelerates Internet-Related Investments
  • February 17, 1999 (TOKYO) — Softbank Corp. is speeding up the establishment of joint ventures related to Internet service businesses with U.S. companies.
    Since last summer, Softbank has established links with Internet ventures at a frequency of about every two months.

    In June 1998, Softbank arranged a merger with E*Trade to provide securities transaction services; in October, it established a firm called Forexbank Co., Ltd., to provide services for foreign currency transactions services; and in December, it formed a joint venture called InsWeb K.K., to advertise insurance products and information reference services.

    The new companies will start operating after this spring, Softbank said.

    In late January, Softbank also formed a company together with Broadcast.com of the United States. The new company will provide live Internet broadcasts of sporting events and other image and sound information. Broadcast.com is growing rapidly in its main business of releasing motion pictures. Softbank said that the new company is expected to begin operating this autumn.

    Softbank is pursuing a simple strategy. It funds U.S. companies that provide information services through the Internet to help develop their growth. And after they become successful, Softbank then sets up joint ventures in Japan to essentially “import” those businesses.

    Japan lags several years behind the United States in businesses related to Internet services. Softbank seeks to obtain an upper hand in the industry by importing advanced U.S. Internet services to take advantage of the gap between the two countries.

    Softbank president Masayoshi Son said that companies with successful track records in the U.S. Internet market are likely to succeed in Japan. Son added that he plans to form more ventures in Japan with expanding U.S. companies.

    Currently, Softbank is financing about 100 companies in the United States.

    Softbank, which owns a major slice of industry giant Yahoo!, plans to combine its services and content with Yahoo!’s Web site to attract more customers.

    Yahoo Japan Corp.’s Web site is the most popular portal site in Japan for Internet users when they start up their Web browser. On Jan. 20, for example, it recorded 20 million page views in a single day.

    The Softbank Group’s business is expected to grow if Yahoo’s reference services are combined with the services and contents of its new ventures, industry observers said.

    Related stories:
    ¥ Softbank, E*Trade to Establish Electronic E-Securities Firm in Japan
    ¥ Softbank to Set Up Internet Discount Forex Service Firm
    ¥ Softbank, Others Start Web Movie Distribution Company

    (Nikkei Computer)

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