On Our Radar Screen

Back to Contents of Issue: February 2001

Ventures we're keeping an eye on, including Digital Media, fusionOne, and Symfotech.

Digital Media www.digitalmedia.co.jp
Users of DDI Pocket cellphones can simply speak the name of the person they wish to call and the phone will dial; Digital Media wrote the software that achieves this. Users can also just speak the phone number -- no need to fumble with the tiny keys. In another version of the service, users pay ¥100 to access an information directory (say "baseball" to get the latest team info, "hotel" to find out where to get a room, etc.). Voice recognition is a key technology for mobile's future, and this six-person shop in Shibuya proves you don't have to be an IBM or Fujitsu to play on the cutting edge.

Symfotech Japan www.symfotech.com
Wireless Internet software developer and systems integrator. Like other wireless players, now expanding to Palm and PocketPC (wireless Palm VII will launch mid-year). Symfotech focuses solely on development for mobile platforms, and hopes to triple in size this year. Does a lot of custom Java and XML development; no word yet on any package solutions available. The two South Africans and one Japanese managing the company personify the global interest in Japan's mobile boom. Hey guys: How about a mobile-accessible guide to Cape Rieslings? With an ecom backend that lets us order a case for delivery in downtown Tokyo?

eMallzero.com www.eMallzero.com
You too can be an online mall. That's the idea behind this venture, which gives individual tenants a commission whenever a customer makes an additional purchase at another tenant's virtual shop, sort of like Amway's MLM organization. Company is headquartered in the US, where the server's located, but it targets would-be Japanese e-merchants in Japanese. CEO wrote a book on e-business (e-Power: The Challenge), and is offering options to new hires, so perhaps an IPO is in the cards. Firm has spoken to VCs, at least one of whom has declined to invest; anything B2C-related is likely going to be a hard sell.

fusionOne K.K. www.fusionone.co.jp
The gurus of sync come to Japan, and none too soon. With Net-enabled devices proliferating faster than rabbits in a hutch, tracking mail, calendars, files, and contact data between devices is getting tough. fusionOne's Web synchronization service aims to organize it all. The US parent secured $80 million in mezzanine funding last October, so the VCs, at least, are convinced the technology works. The Japan office launched in August 2001, partnered with heavyweights NEC, Softbank Commerce, and Mitsui, and plans to focus on the mobile market here. We think this is one IPO that Mothers and Nasdaq-J would like to see.

Note: The function "email this page" is currently not supported for this page.