Japanese Internet

WSJ provides an overview:

Yahoo Japan and Rakuten are still the nation’s dominant Internet sites, but rivals are gaining with services the two don’t offer.

Mixi, for example, runs Japan’s largest online community site, whose users have quintupled in the past year. Now, nearly six million people use the site to network with those who share similar interests. The company in May became the third-most-popular Internet site after Yahoo Japan and Rakuten, according to NetRatings Japan, a market-research firm that rates Internet usage. While Mixi still lagged behind its bigger rivals overall, the average Mixi user was found to spend more than an hour longer per month on the site than the average Yahoo user.

Other companies are also seeing big gains in customers. Broadband content provider Usen’s GyaO site offers a popular service that lets users download movies for free while CyberAgent, an Internet advertising and media company, has seen strong growth in its blog portal site Ameba, which gives users access to more than one million blogs. In e-commerce, Rakuten faces competition from Amazon.com’s Japanese site as well as others such as hotel booking site Ikyu.

Fire Yourself

WSJ writes:

“Windows of opportunity open and close so quickly today, you can’t just mull decisions right in front of you. You have to look around the corner and figure out where you need to go, without becoming spastic or jerking your company in too many different directions,” says Michael Fraizer, CEO of Genworth Financial, the insurance company based in Richmond, Va.

To test his own decision making, Mr. Fraizer regularly fires himself — at least in his own mind. It’s a tactic he learned from former Intel CEO Andy Grove in his 1996 book, “Only the Paranoid Survive.” When Intel’s memory-chip business was getting battered by Japanese rivals in the 1980s, Mr. Grove asked Intel co-founder Gordon Moore: “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do?”

Why Facebook Matters

Fortune writes on what makes Facebook different:

The typical user can see less than half a percent of Facebook’s total user profiles, Zuckerberg says. That is in stark contrast to MySpace, where everybody can basically see everybody else if they know where to look.

Unlike most other social networks, Facebook has sophisticated privacy settings. You have a lot of control over who can see what information about you. So you can enable members of your school or work group to learn about you, but prevent anyone in a high school group from seeing anything, if you choose. You can also determine how information about you shows up in searches other members conduct on the site.

Photo albums are an important part of peoples’ personal profiles, for instance, but the control Facebook offers is so “granular,” to use Zuckerberg’s term, that you can allow one album to be seen by your college mates, another only by work colleagues and bar your siblings from seeing any photos, if you choose. Users are so confident that their information is sequestered from intruders that more than a third post their cellphone numbers.

SAP’s Software Platform

Knowledge@Wharton has an interview with Henning Kagermann, CEO of SAP:

Knowledge@Wharton: For many years your products were primarily based on a three-tier client/server architecture. Now you are moving into Web Services. But various Web Services architectures have different goals. There is the ability to make software applications more modular, more easily configurable by the customer and more flexible for you to develop. But there’s also this notion of “on demand,” hosted “software as a service,” where the customer uses only a web browser. Are you doing both of those? Is one more important than the other?

Kagermann: They both are interconnected, but the first one is more important — that you have an architecture which is modular enough to “plug and play,” to use existing services to compose different innovative business processes. It means that you can innovate your process and be quicker than your competitor. Or you can better integrate into the process of your customer. That is the number 1 priority, because it gives us a competitive advantage.

The second one is more about how you deploy software and how you buy software. And, yes, with this architecture we will have different deployment options for having software “on-premise,” like today, but also in a hosted, on-demand mode. But we have one difference to traditional on-demand models. The traditional approach to “software as a service” is an ASP [application service provider] “hosted” model. So it’s one size fits all.

Cisco’s Opportunities

Barron’s writes:

At a meeting with Wall Street analysts last month, Cisco said that several markets look ripe enough to nourish its next growth spurt: oil-rich nations looking to wire their people; telephone and cable providers locked in an arms race for Internet gear; corporations bundling e-mail and voice messaging on their networks and a coming flood of Internet video traffic. Anyone of these new markets could be worth $10 billion in annual sales to Cisco within five years.

Cisco CEO John Chambers says even he is surprised by the company’s early success in these new ventures. “We are winning almost all the new jump balls,” he says. “We will become the leading company as the network enables all forms of communication.”

TECH TALK: The Rise of YouTube: Googles Interest (Part 2)

Jason Calacanis thinks a YouTube-Google deal makes perfect sense:

1. Google’s search business makes so much money that they could leave the YouTube service the way it is and make back their $1.6B in 6-7 years just by putting Google search boxes all over the site.

2. Given that Google is also not afraid of taking risk with IP issues–and going to bat in the courts over them. Google is the perfect home for YouTube because Google is excellent at holding the line on what they think is fair use and creating tools for folks to opt-out of their service. For evidence of this check their thumbnail, book-scanning, and news services. They’ve gotten attacked on all of those fronts and they’ve held the line, gone to the courts, all while respecting copyright holders.

3. Since Google is not a big media company–but rather a friend of content companies–they will not take the flames from other media companies over buying the asset. They are the advertising and technology platform company, so the media companies will feel comfortable with them buying YouTube. It’s like a neutral party buying the biggest asset in play.

4. $1.6B is the number going around. Is it worth that number? Probably not, but given that Google has an advertising machine at their disposal their probably the only buyer in the market who could pay that price and have any chance of making it back. Also, by taking out YouTube they will have locked up the three biggest non-Adsense players on the market: AOL, MySpace, and YouTube. Microsoft Adcenter and Yahoo Publisher Network are already facing an uphill battle… these three deals really box them out for a five years to come.

Is YouTube really worth $1.6 billion? Charlene Li, once again:

You betcha. Thats 4 cents per video stream ($1.6B divided by 100 million daily views * 365 days) and its still growing. Another way to think of it is that YouTube has roughly 50 million users (35M in the US according to Nielsen NetRatings, and probably another 15M worldwide) which comes out to $32 per user. Its high, but its also reasonable.

Granted, YouTube is just beginning to monetize its audience, but having access to Googles ber-ad network gives it a huge leg up. But this is where I hope YouTube stays the course in not cluttering up its unique interface with sponsored text ads, or its video experience with pre- and post-roll video ads.

Richard Koman of Silicon Valley Watcher writes:

While YouTube is the brand name in user-created video services, Google Video is one of dozens of also-rans. As the conventional wisdom is that video will be very, very big very soon – and Google has of course the content-based advertising market wrapped up, such a move sounds sensible. But it’s definitely a sea change for Google, which is in the habit of buying lots of very small, beneath-the-radar companies, not brand-name companies.

For YouTube’s founders, who have been moving to monetize their golden goose as quickly as possible – unfortunately with deals to promote Paris Hilton and reality TV – the big pay-off must look a lot more attractive than negotiating the copyright abuse waters and the long road to profits.

Tomorrow: Success Secret

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