A overall interested blog about technics

September 5, 2006

 Joi Ito's Conversation with the Living Webhttp://joi.ito.com/

 I had been playing with computer networking since 1983 or so, but when John Markoff gave me MacPPP on a floppy disk in 1991 or so, I realized something big was happening. Jeffrey Shapard was setting up IIKK which was later acquired by PSINet in Japan; I lent them my bathroom to be their first POP in Japan. (People wouldn’t rent space to an unknown US company.) I was probably one of the first people in Japan to have a 128K leased line in their toilet.

Then, the founding Eccosys team gathered around the leased line. Cyrus, Shimokawa, Daishi, Sen, Jona. We bought a used Sun SPARC 1+ over USENet and set up a server. When the NCSA web server came out in 1993 we were ready. We were bunch of kids with a lot of free time, a leased line and a UNIX server. We started one of the first web pages in Japan. We created a web join venture with an ad company, From Garage and called it Digital Garage. We eventually merged all of the companies into Digital Garage and took it public in 1999. In parallel to this, I served as CEO of PSINet Japan for a year and helped get them out of my bathroom and into a real office. Digital Garage also built Infoseek Japan and the Digital Advertising Consortium. Infoseek Japan was acquired by Infoseek which was then acquired by Disney. I left Digital Garage to help run Infoseek Japan as Chairman. It was eventually acquired by Rakuten and I still serve on the board. Rakuten recently acquired Lycos and Infoseek Japan is the third largest portal in Japan after Yahoo and MSN and is profitable and continues to grow. DAC went public in 2001.

After all of the major transactions finished, Neoteny, my personal company raised $20mm from Whitney (a VC) and PSI Ventures. Incubators were hot at the time so we started life as an incubator but have now shifted to more traditional venture capital model. I have been focused on Neoteny since we took the first round of capital in December 1999. We raised more money have the first round have raised about 4.7bb yen in capital in total. In 2004, after Neoteny invested in Six Apart the weblog company, I decided to return the remaining cash to the shareholders and focus Neoteny’s resources to building Six Apart Japan instead of continuing to invest.

Since then, I have made investments personally in Technorati, SocialText, flickr and others. (See my wiki for gory details.)

My primary work now is VP of International and mobility for Technorati and Chairman of Six Apart Japan. I’m also on the board of Creative Commons and starting in December 2004, ICANN. I also spend a lot of my not-so-spare time doing government committee work, lecturing, writing, being on TV, being an activist against government stupidity, and recently being invited to lots of conferences.


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