EOsites Taps Anime Craze

Back to Contents of Issue: June 2000

by Daniel Scuka

Although the precise description of EOsites' new Web-based service has not been publicly announced, it involves online gaming, trading cards (think Pokemon), and tapping into one of Japan's biggest unrealized emarkets: the frenzy for anime characters and related products. Perhaps a big mouthful to chew, but this 18-month-old Bit Valley startup is well on its way to fulfilling the dot-com dreams of its founder and CEO, 24-year-old Takashi Ishihara. The young entrepreneur explains what he enjoys about running a Web-based startup: "If EOsites is successful, I'll be able to share that success with the people I've chosen to work with." And the opportunity to share dreams is what Bit Valley is all about.

EOsites staff members with Takashi (front right)
The company has had to revise its networked trading card game launch date several times due to intense outside interest. There's no doubt the company has its sights set on a juicy target: "We've had more people jump on the bandwagon," ruminates Ishihara, "everyone can smell the blood." The firm is holding tight, though, and is looking for the right type of partner. "We're getting lots of interest from other companies who want to get involved," he says. And what about the Bit Valley events? "Basically, there's no real content -- I haven't seen any real [networking]. And if the [present bubble] bursts, it will really scare off investors, so that's one reason not to get too bubbly about what's going on."

Another concern is how the market for online gaming will develop. "To my knowledge, Bandai tried and failed with Treasure of Genom and is back with Mystic Grapple; a few others have entered the race, so I suppose [the market] is going to be what we make it and how user friendly the Internet environment becomes," says Fred Tanaka, marketing manager. In Japan, telephone rates are still a problem, but that doesn't affect other platforms, like mobile wireless.

In the meantime, EOsites concentrates on providing Web design and interactivity solutions for diverse clients, primarily in the entertainment arena. "We're a Web solutions company," says Tanaka, "and by doing this, we learn what businesses our clients do -- so we can help advise them on the best approach for the Web." Past clients have included Recruit's isize community portal and Pylon, one of Shibuya's more frantic Hip Hop clubs. As for investor exit strategy, EOsites is looking at a future IPO or buyout. When? "As soon as we can build the business," says Ishihara.

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