Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Digital Garage Press Release

Digital Garage, Technorati, Inc. Strengthen Relationship

July 30, 2008

Digital Garage, Inc. (JASDAQ 4819; main offices in Shibuya ward, Tokyo; President and Group CEO: Mr. Kaoru Hayashi; referred to hereafter as "DG") and Technorati, Inc. (main offices in San Francisco, California, USA; President & CEO: Mr. Richard Jalichandra) are joining together to offer blog search and related services as Technorati Japan, Inc. (main offices in Shibuya ward, Tokyo; President & CEO: Mr. Kaoru Hayashi). Formed in January 2005, Technorati Japan has until now been a fully-owned subsidiary of DG, but with the new agreement will be a joint venture between DG and Technorati, Inc.

Along with the reorganization as a joint venture, Technorati Japan has also entered into a licensing agreement with Technorati, acquiring perpetual rights to the use of Technorati's blog search technologies. Based on this license, Technorati Japan will develop its own technologies targeting the specific needs of the Japanese market, further expanding the largest domestic blog search service targeting more than 10 million blogs.

Per my last blog post, this is a very important development for Digital Garage and Technorati. In the past, Technorati Japan has been operated as a marketing alliance, more like a typical distribution deal. While this worked better than a typical Japan entry structure, this new structure that gives the Japanese partner and the US partner equity stakes in single entity is typically much more successful at hiring people, making smart local decisions and moving quickly while continue to provide incentive to the US side to support the local efforts.

I'm really happy about this restructuring and am excited to see what we'll be able to do with the new configuration in Japan. Thanks to everyone who helped get this somewhat complicated transaction to happen.

Created a new PGP Key. Find it here. This replaces all previous keys.

Recently I was quoted in the Japan Times in an article about Facebook's Japan launch saying:

The Japan Times
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Japanese Facebook takes Model T approach


Joi Ito, a venture capitalist and CEO of Creative Commons, points out the importance of staying humble and of maintaining the mind-set of a startup. "You need to assume your brand in the U.S. means diddly squat in Japan," he says. "You also need a local partner with an equity stake, unless you're Google and you're willing to spend years and years becoming relevant."

It is REALLY hard to launch in Japan without a local partner. There are many reasons. Foreign brands have very little value in Japan without local promotion.

It is very hard to hire people into fully-owned subsidiaries. Many foreign companies pull out of the market. Japanese companies tend to go public more quickly than US companies. Even when US companies do, often they don't give subsidiary team member any or as much upside incentive. Local partners tend to incentivize local teams and push for local IPOs. Everyone knows this. Even Google had a tough time and are finally getting traction.

Business in Japan, as the stereotype suggests, is fairly closed. Business development in Japan is very difficult without a local partner.

eBay went it alone and had to leave and now don't exist in Japan having lost net auctions to Yahoo Japan and Rakuten. Friendster and now Facebook who have launched "localized versions" are not getting traction. Mixi, the Orkut knockoff with arguably a much clunkier interface, has 10M users and is public.

Infoseek, Technorati, Twitter, Six Apart/TypePad/Vox/Movable Type and other brands that we've helped launch are all doing pretty good in Japan IMHO.

I think the only two non-joint ventured web companies that are doing well in Japan right now are Google and Amazon and both took years and lots of investment to get there.

Spike in Facebook mentions on blogs after localization, but flat again after that

I realize this is tooting my own horn since what I do is set up joint ventures in Japan but I though this chart was interesting in this context.


David Recordon just announced the Open Web Foundation at OSCON. The OWF will be a non-profit organization focused on supporting the development of open, non-proprietary web specifications.

David's slides from his talk

Clearly, the last thing we/I want is yet ANOTHER foundation, but we're hoping that this foundation will reduce foundation proliferation in the long run by making it a home for a number of projects that can be supported with single organization. The key functions of the OWF will be to incubate new specifications, help with licensing and non-assertion agreements, copyright (Creative Commons) for the specifications and community building and management.

We have an interesting list of individuals and companies already on board to support this initiative.

The organization will not compete with existing standards organizations. The focus will be on specifications and on the smaller, faster, more ad-hoc projects that need help sorting out the licensing and copyright issues and hope to feed many of these projects to the standards bodies as they become ready.

If you want to participate, join the OWF discussion group.

Congratulations to everyone who worked to get this started and thanks for letting me tag along. Hopefully, I'll have more to contribute as get going.

Other posts about this:

Brady Forrest
Scott Kveton
Dawn Foster
Open Web Foundation Blog
David Recordon's Blog

Introducing Content Licenses on Google Code

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

By DeWitt Clinton, Google Developer Programs

The Google Code team is pleased to announce the availability of content licenses for projects hosted on Projects owners may now select from either the Creative Commons Attribution license or the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license to indicate the terms under which their non-source code materials may be distributed.

While this may seem like a minor change, it reflects the continued evolution of our mission to support best practices in open source software development. As the open web increasingly relies on protocols and formats that reach beyond source code, we encourage authors to apply an explicit copyright license to the data, documentation, and related media that complements their work.

Please join us in the project hosting discussion group if you have any questions.

Using free and open source software licenses for the code and Creative Commons licenses for the content makes total sense and I'm really happy that Google Code has decided to include CC licenses as a default. Thanks to DeWitt and crew for this.


Google Knol opened today, intended to be a platform for authoritative articles about a specific topics, also known as knols, by a created single author or collaboratively. The default license for a new knol is CC Attribution. A creator can also choose CC Attribution-NonCommercial or All Rights Reserved.

More on the CC Blog.