Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Neoteny Category

Welcome aboard TypePad Germany. Congratulations to the Six Apart team in Europe and special thanks to Heiko.

Six Apart just acquired Loic's blog company, Ublog. Loic had been acting as our marketing partner in Europe, but now he's apart of Six Apart. (Mena has a good story about this.)

Andrew Anker who I met when he was running Hot Wired back in the day has also just joined Six Apart. (More about that on at Mena's Corner)

Last but not least, Barak Berkowitz who was once my boss at Infoseek, then later worked for me at Neoteny, is now taking over the role of CEO of Six Apart. (Mena's story about this)

Welcome aboard everyone. I think we're turning a new page in the development of Six Apart. I urge you to read Mena's posts for her view on all of this. I'm a proud VC today.

UPDATE: Cory on Mena's post.

3.5 hours until TypePad Japan is launchesd. Yay!

New Movable Type pricing and licensing up on the Six Apart site. Thanks to everyone for the support and feedback.

To use the requisite automotive analogy, if Six Apart were a shiny new car, I feel like I was the person who put the first dent in it, and then a couple thousand people stood around pointing and saying "It's totalled!"
It's been a hard week for everyone at Six Apart with the difficulty with the launch of the Movable Type 3 and the licensing and communications about this. Anil seems to feel quite responsible. It sounds a bit like Rummy getting set up to be the fall guy, but fine. It was Anil's fault. ;-)

Having said that, I think everyone at Six Apart feels very responsible and is working really hard listening to all the feedback and fixing the licenses and communications of them. They're sincerely trying to be "good" so I'd appreciate any slack people are willing to cut them. Also, please continue to send them and myself ideas and feedback on how we can make the MT 3 license better for everyone. Thanks!

Most people are aware that Six Apart got a lot of feedback on the release of Movable Type 3.0 and there was a bit of confusion as well. Mena has a good post that addresses many of the issues people have been asking about.

Welcome on board TypePad Spain!

Welcome online TypePad France!

Mena starts corporate blogging at Six Apart on Mena's Corner.

Six Apart announced TypeKey. It's a user login system that can among other things, help prevent comment spam. It will work with Movable Type 3.0 and TypePad.

I have decided to discontinue additional investments from Neoteny and focus on supporting its current portfolio of companies. In particular, I believe that Six Apart has enormous potential and most of Neoteny's resources, including me will be focused on helping to make Six Apart a success.

Six Apart makes Fast Company 50. Yay and congrats!

My company Neoteny is an investor in Six Apart.

Adriaan aka ado of Kung-Log fame and Jim aka mmdc of "fawning parody" fame have joined the Neoteny team.

And, no, writing a parody of me will not guarantee you a job at Neoteny.

Japanese VC and tech socialite Joi Ito [ Hates reading books - Lunch - Lunch - Segway - Lunch - Lunch - Fawning Parody - World Blogging Forum!]) has spent months hyping the couple who started the Movable Type weblogging software Ben and Mena [buys banjo]Trott. The cute, but strangely synthetic twosome were showered with advanced publicity in the form of flights and lunches and "party games" (the latter is filed under "Humor / Leadership and Entrepreneurship" ), before Ito's company invested in Movable Type last week.

Will we be able to trust Ito's ongoing research analysis about his investment?

We shall see.

Just to clarify the facts and my position...

I think I have made it clear that I am a VC interesting in investing in this space. I will continue to invest in companies. I find companies by meeting people doing cool things. I blog about the cool people I meeting. I hope I will end up investing in some of these companies.

With Six Apart, I have moved from user to acquaintance (lunch) to "Hirata wrote a Japanese language kit for Movable Type and we'd like you to meet the Japanese MT community" to investor. We were already heavy users of MT and consulting to companies about using MT before we were in serious negotiations about investment.

I think this will be a standard process. 1) Find product/blog it, 2) lunch/blog it, 3) possibly invite to Japan/blog it, 4) be quiet for awhile, 5) invest/announce. Some steps may be skipped or out of order. Not investing doesn't mean it's not a good product or a good person. Many reasons for not investing. Valuation, structure, business plan, other investors, etc.

Ethically speaking... I will plug whole-heartedly any product/person I like. If I have a relationship, I disclose it. The only time I won't talk about something is if I am in negotiations with someone since there is usually an NDA. The notion that blogging about lunch with Ben and Mena or blogging about Mena's mastery of the cork trick, was them being "showered with advanced publicity" is frankly a pile of crap as anyone who knows me should know.

At this point I am incentivized to help Ben and Mena succeed. So of course, I will work hard to promote them, it would be strange if I didn't. I think that the success of blogging has come from open standards and an open dialog about the standards. I think it is essential for the tool builders to have healthy competition, but for everything to work together. I'm constantly talking to Dave, Ev, Jason and anyone else in the space. I really don't see how the investment lessens my commitment to talking to everyone and sharing. In fact, I think that now that I have my money where my mouth is and it should increase my commitment to blogging generally.

As Dave said in an email, I'm now in the pool with him. ;-) Oh and by the way, I don't think I was ever providing anything as lofty as "research analysis". I have a point of view. I solicit feedback and I put my money where my mouth is. I do not try to pretend to be objective. I am a VERY subject human being. Investing in the people who make the tool that I spend more time with than anything else in my life right now seems like a reasonable thing to do.

So one more time... I get excited about something, blog about it, then decide to invest. Not the other way around.

Thanks for the link Marc!

When I first told Jun that "neoteny" meant the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood, he told me he thought it meant giant tadpoles. Iwrote an entry earlier about the meaning of Neoteny.

Since then, the business press has been using the word to discuss leadership. There is a great piece from Harvard Business School about it. I'm glad I have ;-)

HBS Working Knowledge
Are Business Schools Really Important "Crucibles of Leadership?"
HBSWK Pub. Date: Sep 30, 2002

by Jim Heskett

The new book Geeks and Geezers by Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas, argues that all the leaders they studied, whether "geeks" (under thirty) or "geezers" (over seventy), have the ability to engage others in shared meaning; a distinctive and compelling voice; a sense of integrity; and "neoteny," a trait that makes them "addicted to life" and able to recruit protectors, nurturers, and believers through a long and productive leadership career.

We will be announcing later today the establishment of Neoteny Venture Development Co., Ltd. which will be lead by Hidehiro Matsumoto as its CEO. Neoteny Venture Development is a spin-out of the consulting business of Neoteny Co., Ltd. which has been in development for a year. Neoteny Venture Development Co., Ltd. will be a subsidiary of Neoteny Co., Ltd. The team has delivered five consulting engagements to large Japanese companies. NVD will focus on corporate venture consulting, entrepreneurship support and corporate spin-out consulting. Neoteny Co., Ltd. will focus on venture investing in information technology businesses. Neoteny will update its web page tonight. (It will be a blog ;-) )

I will of course continue to be CEO of Neoteny and current am focused on investing in personal communications technologies and networked consumer electronics and enabling technologies and services...

Many people ask my what Neoteny (my company's name) means. It means the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood. I first heard it from Timothy Leary when we were working on a book together. (It was called "The New Breed" about the techno youth culture. We never finished it, but I still have a pile of notes. Maybe I should get around to publishing some of it someday...) Tim loved the word. He used it to mean all of the great things that you often lose in adulthood such as curiosity, playfulness, imagination, joy, humor, wonder, etc. It is a biology term that the people in evolutionary theory use to when discussing traits that we retain in adulthood like lack of body hair, etc. There is a good web site about Neoteny at

Adulthood in the past meant that you finished learning most of what you needed to learn and you switched to production mode and started focusing on repeating tasks and narrowing your focus. I think that with the amount of change in the world today, it is impossible to "grow up" and finish your learning. I think Neoteny will become more and more of a survival trait in the future.

On the other hand, Neoteny means some strange things as well. It is sometimes used in the context of sexual preferences, stunted growth and other problems. When Jun was joining Neoteny and he asked a high school student whether they knew what Neoteny was and the student said, "Giant tadpoles". So, there are pros and cons.

When I say Neoteny on the phone, it is often mistaken for New Otani. There was a company callled Neonagy (ne is roots, onaji means "same" so they meant "our roots are all the same" in Japanese.) and many people make mistakes and call us Neotony. But, I think that as the world starts to focus on biotech, I'm glad I picked this name instead of e-blahblahblah, i-blahblahblah, Netblahblahblah, or blahblahblah incubator. ;-)

NEOTENY, AND THE FUTURE OF HOMO SAPIENS A short contribution from Victor Serebriakoff

Neoteny describes the fact of evolution, that the new species emerge from the form of the young of the evolving species. The hominids arose from the Bonono or chimpanzee stage because their young stayed young longer, they remained experimental, playful whimsical longer and longer. There is, with homo sapiens, a developmental pause at the age of three which continues until the sudden changes of puberty. Homo has the longest period of immaturity of any creature on Earth. It is almost two decades from the stage of an almost helpless, senseless and completely dependent baby until the fully developed adult.

And this tendency appears to continue. We may notice that while most of humanity stop play and begin to work most of the daytime in their early twenties and play only in their spare time, there is a significant minority who continue to play all the time. They are usually the most gifted and talented, they become scholars, students and artists and occupy themselves with tasks for which their is no immediate substantial gain for themselves, intellectual tasks in fact. This is a continuation of childish behaviour and that minority contains all the intelligentsia. With the development of automation, the increase of prosperity and the availability of unlimited energy - see later contribution - the proportion of the neotenous minority will increase until it become a majority, I believe.
Victor Serebriakoff.

An article called "Awakening genius in the classroom"

From my column in Japan Inc.:

- By the time you read this, the news will be on the street that US VC J.H. Whitney (an investor in J@pan Inc.'s parent company, LINC Media) and PSINet have invested $20 million in Neoteny, my incubator.
- I attended one of the regular meetings at Koso Nippon, for the first time as a speaker.
- At the beginning of the year, I was on a show with my favorite announcer, Yuji Kuroiwa, and Kenichi Takemura, Kiichi Miyazawa (Japan's minister of finance and ex-prime minister), Jiro Koku-ryo (KBS), Yotaro Kobayashi (chairman of Fuji Xerox), and Rakutan Ichiba's Hiroshi Mikitani.

From my column in Japan Inc.

By the time you read this, the news will be on the street that US VC J.H. Whitney (an investor in J@pan Inc.'s parent company, LINC Media) and PSINet have invested $20 million in Neoteny, my incubator. The transaction was led by Tokyo's J.H. Whitney duo and was the most professional and honest deal of this size that I have seen here; we closed in one month. Makes me think twice about telling VC jokes now.

The news will include details on who's joining the Neoteny board, including Bill Schrader, the CEO and founder of PSINet, and Whitney's Paul Slawson. We've also brought together what we think is quite an interesting advisory board, selecting people who are clearly visionaries. The advisors will also be available to the companies in incubation, and consist of Jun Murai (Wide), Jiro Kokuryo (KBS), Mitsuru Iwamura (formerly Bank of Japan, currently at Waseda University), Pierre Omidyar (chairman and founder of eBay), Mitsuhiro Takemura (Tokyo University), Michael Backes (Timeline Computer Entertainment), John Vasconcellos (California State senator), Derrick DeKerkhove (McLuhan program director), Ryuichi Sakamoto (musician), Kotaro Yamamoto (Hakuo University ecologist), John Perry Barlow (lyricist for the Grateful Dead), John Patrick (VP of Internet technology at IBM), Jane Metcalf (co-founder of Wired), John Gage (Sun Microsystems), John Brockman (Brockman Inc. and the Edge Foundation), and Ryu Murakami (author).

I have been griping about not having a good location or good office space. We have decided to move to the Plaza Mikado Building in Akasaka (red hill), where PSINet used to be. Neoteny and some of the Neoteny network of companies will be joining us. I wonder what the press will say now. "Neoteny moves from Bit Valley to Red Hill" perhaps? I wonder if Red Hill will become the Sand Hill of Bit Valley?

We're kicking off several new companies that have been simmering in Neoteny's incubator: Car Generation, a driving school site; Waag Techno-logies, a mobile product selection and community site; and, a Linux testing and information site. We have a bunch of other deals in the pipeline. I met Yasuyuki Kido of Neonagy for the first time. Neonagy is a solutions company focusing on Linux - a very cool company that I hope will work closely with us, despite the possible confusion in our names.

I attended one of the regular meetings at Koso Nippon, for the first time as a speaker. Koso Nippon is an NPO run by Hideki Kato, formerly of the Ministry of Finance. The organization researches and distributes information aimed at building a better Japan. This month's meeting was organized by Seigo Matsuoka's Editorial Engineering Laborato-ries team, which just finished their new online community project, ISIS. A pretty illustrious list of speakers attended, each of whom spoke for a few minutes. I got sandwiched between Hiroshi Suzuki, who recently moved from MITI to Keio University, and Eisuke Sakakibara (dubbed Mr. Yen in the press). We talked, as usual, about Internet communities, trust, value, and the economy. I never thought I'd be on stage chatting with Sakakibara about the economy.

At the beginning of the year, I was on a show with my favorite announcer, Yuji Kuroiwa, and Kenichi Takemura, Kiichi Miyazawa (Japan's minister of finance and ex-prime minister), Jiro Koku-ryo (KBS), Yotaro Kobayashi (chairman of Fuji Xerox), and Rakutan Ichiba's Hiroshi Mikitani. The show ended up being kind of short and shallow, but we had a very interesting discussion in the waiting room afterwards. I was really impressed by Yotaro Kobayashi, who has read Francis Fuku-yama's book on trust, Kevin Kelly's book, New Rules for the New Economy, and Toshio Yamagishi's work - also on trust - all material which I think is highly relevant to a wired economy. The talk ended up, as usual, in a discussion about trust, communities, and the definition of "value." Later, Jiro and I decided that we really needed to work on the definition of value in this new economy - a rather mighty undertaking, since I think everyone has been avoiding going there for too long and the definition is getting rather old.

It was a bit disappointing, though, to hear that Finance Minister Miyazawa doesn't use the Internet yet.