Japan.co.jp: Hardhat Required
by Bradley L. Bartz
Available on Amazon
CHAPTER 1 - The Landing
It's complicated, warm and fuzzy. The emotion I felt when I landed at Tokyo station the first time in 1989. The August air was heavy and I could see the Imperial Palace from the Chuo Line platform. The indiscernible part was looking at the architecture of the Tokyo Train station as my heart screamed to me that I was directly responsible for the design of this station and the use of locomotives in Japan. My deja vu brought me back to 1852 on my way to my first real landing in Japan.
As I wrote in my journal then, "The black smoke seems to be belching more this morning as the men gather excitement upon leaving Shanghai and heading to the Japans. The men have awoken their hearts for the new mission to open the Japans to trade. Last night the meal with the governor of Shanghai was accented when he gave me his personal map of the Japans."
The waves of May 1853 were rough as the USS Saratoga, USS Mississippi, USS Plymouth, and the lead USS Susquehanna, navigated the currents to the Ryukyu Islands, known to seaman as the southernmost tip of the Japans and a safe harbor for port. My ship makes a grand entrance to any location we have visited so far in East Asia. Her impressive beam of 45 feet and length of 247 feet makes her immense. But, it is the two coal powered steam paddle wheels that give us our speed. The giant main sails and sheets further increase our speed to 10 knots. Our smoke can be seen at the very edge of the horizon.
On November 24, 1852 we run from Norfolk, Virginia to China on the USS Mississippi. This exhibition is to bring a treaty from the US President Fillmore for trade and safe passage of our shipwrecked sailors. My mission could not be more important and as such I take 6 months in China to gather as much intelligence as I can before setting me and my crew to the Japans.
On board we have a contingent of fine soldiers, doctors, translators, artists, drunks, educators, train & wire communication experts and some of the best cooks in the Navy. Including our very own Paul Montgomery. Our dinner conversations are brief in fun and quick to plans for each step of the journey ahead of us.
At all ports I will only meet with the senior most government official such as the Emperor, King, Governor or Shogun. Any attempts to meet me will be rebuffed until we are absolutely certain that my dignity and that of the president of the United States be greeted in the prim and proper way. I expect full pageantry, bands and banners.
After dinner my security officer, Captain Wayne Ignatius Shaw and I sat down for a drink of brandy and to fine tune our approach. We were also joined by physics and naturalist Professor Jay Andrew Smith, the communications chief Steve Carter, translator Mike Fink, trade expert Burzin Engineer, the train expert Simon Mansfield and our librarian Ms. Daneeta. This crowd always came to dinner in full dress and tonight was no exception. Being 6 days out from our next port, this meal was allowed be long and boisterous.
I took out the map from the Governor of Shanghai of the Japans and rolled it out on our cleared dinner table. Everyone knew not to set their wine on the table now. The map was exquisite. It had navigation paths to different ports in Japan which also showed current flows. It was easy to tell that the first stop for supplies would be the Ryukyu Islands. Our full team looked at the map and Shaw spoke up first.
"I have read many bad stories about sailors being burned and buried alive in the Japans." Shaw continued, "I will go ahead in all ports and stops to check every inch for your safety commodore."
Many things are not known about the Japans as they have been closed to foreign trade since the 1600's. Only the Dutch trader known as Michele Mertens was able to establish a trade post. He was only known to the commodore by reputation, little did he know that this short little man Mertens would play an important role a decade later. We will all learn the art of dismantling and rebuilding an enterprise.
Dr. Smith, as we all tended to call Jay, was the biologist on the exhibition and was starting to tell a story of Japanese rice. "Look right here," exclaimed Jay, as he points to the northern island of Hokkaido. "This is where the Japanese people come from. The rice tells us that each local chieftain knew his lands could be terraced and made productive."
His arms waving, " If we look here at the upcoming Ryukyu Islands the rice is more like what we found in Shanghai and down in the Philippines. Here, right in the middle is our target destination, the capital of Edo. Here the rice can be had both ways, with northern blends of the mountains and the southern tastes of the plains."
Steve chimed in with, "The rice shows the formal communication chain in Japan.
It is our understanding that rice and rice farming communities were often given to local dynasties. The current shogun grew from this culture."
"Mr. Shaw, would you please explain the fireworks and displays we have in store for our Tokyo landing," I ordered.
"Yes sir Commodore," said Shaw as he stood up.
On the port side behind the main cabinet Shaw reached for 3 spiral tubes, opened and laid the contents on the table all in one clean move. The map of Tokyo bay was detailed with depths and specific landing points from what is now Yokohama all to way to the city center. The monopoly player like pieces clinked and clanked as they spilled out of the final tube. The cannons and fireworks launchers were the most prevalent. This ship was loaded and ready to bare arms.
"Actually Commodore the fireworks are for when we leave port after our successful treaty negotiations," said Shaw. "All of the cannons are ready for service to fire blanks upon rounding this corner." As he stood straight again, "And a full set of shot are ready in case of need." Shaw is pointing to modern day Yokohama.
A sound of singing can be heard by the dinner guests. Ms. Daneeta walks to the starboard and opens the portal. The ocean waves hitting the hull can be heard in a beat to the songs being sung.
"This diddy is about leaving the old lady at home and the loneliness of sea," Ms. Daneeta said while still staring out at the moon lit ocean. "Commodore what songs did you like to sing when you were on deck?"
I did not hear her as I was intent on listening every detail from Shaw regarding our exit parade and fireworks show. The 200 marine guards will include a 45 piece marching band that will line the boulevard approaching the docks. It is anticipated that we will be laden with gifts in exchange for our gifts at the landing celebration. We have 75 chests on board that can each hold thousands of coin or other valuables. Each chest will be borne by two soldiers who will march to the music and load onto the USS Susquehanna.
Each time a chest is loaded onto the ship a firework will be set off. When chest 75 lands on the deck the band will strike up a tune of "Camptown Races" and that will liven up the party. A toast between you and the Emperor will take place and then we will launch a 15 minute long fireworks display after your exit.
Commodore, after you shake hands and say your formal goodbyes, you will walk the parade route and the band will play, "Home Again". When you are on the dock with your back to your ship and salute the crowd, the fireworks will start. You will then be on our fastest away boat as the fireworks display is in full bloom.
"Well done Shaw, well done indeed." Exclaimed the Commodore.
"Dr. Smith? Could you tell me about apples in Japan?" asked Mr. Carter.
"Enough with the apples Steve," said Burzin Engineer "We know you think it is the perfect fruit, easy to use and doesn't get viruses, but sheesh enough with ‘dem apples!"
The dinner conversation was free to take any turn now as the Commodore was satisfied with the meal, wine and the regimented plan put forth by Shaw.
Ms. Daneeta asked, "Can each let me copy your journals into a master set? It doesn't have to be now, but at least promise that after our voyage you'll give me a peak."
I signaled that it was time to part and the dinner party stood at attention and left gracefully. I took the opportunity to open my journal and pen this.
"Wednesday October 20, 1852, 9:15pm. First night out of port of Shanghai was topped with a fine meal with my direct team. Shaw laid out our course and the basics of our engagements and negotiations. Dr. Smith anticipated the Ryukyu Islands and the small pineapple he thinks the locals turned into wine. Engineer seemed to know what each port might offer in way of goods and
local trading customs. Ms. Daneeta was delightful as always in her southern charm and I was particularly intrigued by her request for everyone's journal. Carter again is on his hunt for the Apple. He checks and catalogs each variety with Dr. Smith. He carries on and on about the famous Macintosh Apple that has a taste so sharp that when you byte it the CEO comes out and slaps you. Montgomery made roasted lamb with a variety of fresh sides bought from the Shanghai market that morning. As with everything on my ships, the menu for the coming month is planned and I must admit I am looking forward to Sunday."
The following few days were uneventful. The ocean calmed a bit and our steam engine was purring like a wild animal. Each evening meal was filled with more and more reports and planning for the trip. The unique nature of the crew make our landing party an opportunistic bunch. The funniest one was Mike Fink the translator, although he was mentioned early, he was actually met on the first visit to the Ryukyu Islands. It just seems like Fink has been there all along as we are all now used to hearing the story in Japanese and English.
The landing at port Naha in the Ryukyu Islands was a grand affair. The black smoke from our coal burning steam engines was seen days before we arrived. The scurry about was similar to our Paul Revere except they were screaming in Japanese
"Kurofune, Kurofune"… "Black Ship"!
The king of the Ryukyu Islands immediately set up a banquet in the honor of our visit. Every item on our shopping list was granted immediately plus additional supplies were offered and gratefully accepted. The hospitality was soothing and nothing like Shaw had made us anticipate.
The red tile roofs of the village homes were substantial with each tile being cemented into place. Carter pointed out each roof had a god called "Shisa" that was built from left over roofing materials. The shapes and sizes of the Shisa became the branding mark for the different roofing contractors on the Island.
The King had two of his favorite assistants, his son and daughter, give me and our team a grand tour of the Ryukyu Islands. The daughter, Tomoko was tall, slender and spoke English. Her brother Hiro was a dick. But, Hiro would later prove to be loyal to his father in following his order to protect me.
We all mounted horses for the first leg of our tour. We climbed a trail from the coast up to the middle of the Island. The trail was clean, smooth and well used. The jungle was so very colorful. At the top the hill we were greeted by the local artisan and mayor Higa who took us directly to the fire and kiln production area for making roof tiles.
This factory was many hundreds of years old and was built from the top of a rolling hill to a gully and then back up a bit the other side. The main fire was built at the dip and the pottery was placed in the oven going up the hill. A fire was stoked and lit in our honor and we dined on local fish, fruits and a lovely pineapple wine. Dr. Smith was in heaven!
A visiting professor Maruyama made fast friends with Dr. Smith. Maruyama was from Tokyo University and he was on a research sabbatical on the Island. Maruyama was in charge of the education postal service and was always looking for ways to expand pure knowledge. Maruyama also loved rabbits and hooked Dr. Smith into taking a pair with him.
The King was there to greet us as we boarded our ship for our journey to Edo. Maruyama asked for a ride and Dr. Smith offered to let him bunk with him. We loaded our ship and I ordered the men to set sail. In my cabin I wrote:
"The King signed our trade and sailor safety treaty with no changes or requests. He was genuinely pleased with our visit and our agreement. He did ask that we not tell those in Edo of how nice he was. I found this to be interesting and thereby make a note of it in my journal."
The ship and crew were happy and steaming hard towards Edo to land on July 8, 1853. Our journey from Ryukyu to Edo would take us the better part of a month. Our course was deliberate to be as close to shore as possible to map each reasonable port. Each spot we would stop and send scout boats to do depth readings and map the country side. The scouts reported seeing the Japans natives on the shoreline cliffs. It also started to record what looked like cannons and forts along the coast. The black ship steamed on while on land horses with messengers were frantic in their flight north.
Usually when horses ride north it is with a deliberate pace with a
large group of travelers. Not in this case at all. The riders were all dispatched by loyal and non-so-loyal daimyos to Edo to warn the Emperor and Shogun.
It was noticed by our scouts that more encampments, forts and cannons start to be in place as with push north up the Pacific Ocean coast.
The first time this was reported the Commodore sounded general quarters and brought his team to his cabin.
"It is obvious that they know we are here and that they know we are coming. I want you to repel any boat or approach by the Japans natives. We are headed to Edo period," roared Perry.
"Shaw I want a full accounting of our armaments in one hour. Carter I want you to communicate this same order to all of our ships. Ms. Daneeta please collect everyone's journals, including mine. Send boats to all ships to collect notes from them also. I want you to quickly copy and compile notes and then return the journals," ordered the Commodore.
"Do you need any help? Asked Perry.
"Yes, I think Dr. Smith and Mr. Maruyama would be terrific choices." Said Ms. Daneeta.
"Actually, I want Mr. Maruyama with Shaw to plan the fireworks display and for him to document in Japanese our overwhelming capability to obliterate Edo. You can have Mr. Carter, Ms. Daneeta," directed Perry.
"Shaw I want to fire our cannons once an hour starting in 45 minutes. See to it immediately. And the rest of you leave me now." barked Perry.
Outside the Commodore's chambers Shaw called general quarters and ordered the appropriate flag to the mast. The crew and ship came to immediate attention and all knew their position and tempo. The shoreline was indeed jagged and the lookouts had the most important job of the crew. That is to watch for rocks and reefs. Instead of yelling, the crow's nest was wired with a telegraph directly to the wheelhouse. .- .-.. .-.. / -.-. .-.. . .- .-..-.-.- / .--. --- .-. - / ... ..-.. . / .... - ... / . -. --- -.-..- / .- - / ...-- ----- ----- / -.-- .- .-. -..... .-.-.-
All Clear. Port side has rock at 300 yards.
This advanced communications was required by Commodore Perry to improve his capabilities in fights and emergencies. The crow's nest position was sought after by the crew and every crew member was qualified in Morse code. Maruyama was most amused and bewildered by this technology. Shaw, as ordered, showed Maruyama the 5 telegraph workstations. In doing so Maruyama continued to express disbelief.
Commodore Perry came on deck. After the deck settled from the salute of the crew, Perry approached Maruyama to talk about this exhibition. Maruyama did his best to express interest in what Perry was saying. Maruyama was very bright, but has only been exposed to education in the purist sense.
Perry told Maruyama, "I look forward to bringing trade to the Japans."
Maruyama looked at Perry, tilted his like a deer in headlights and said, "Why would you want that?"
Perry was speechless and left Shaw to complete his inspection of the arms and to get prepared to fire the cannon in five minutes. The crew started to see people on the cliffs. It seems the Perry knew that the communications chain was launched long ago when his black ships pinged its first depth.
The crew was at complete attention. Maruyama was next to Ms. Daneeta and Chef Paul. The Commodore had his attention to the ship from the main deck.
"FIRE" Yelled Perry.
Shaw repeated the order and the USS Susquehanna shuddered with the explosion of the cannon. The people on the cliffs were heard to scream and seen to scatter. The USS Mississippi fired next, then the USS Plymouth and in the rear the blast of the USS Saratoga was the loudest by far. The Saratoga Captains way of asking for a seat at the dinner table.
"Full Steam Ahead, Full Sails. Fast Mr. Shaw, if you please." Ordered Commodore Perry.
Behind the USS Susquehanna the motion and activity to full sails is seen in each ship simultaneously. Perry quietly demurred as all of their training and his strong discipline show in the cadence before him.
Perry retired to his chambers.
55 minutes later Shaw called to arms again and the commotion was not any more. It was fluid and deliberate. At the strike of noon Shaw yelled Fire and all four ships fired at once. The sound echoed into the bay to be heard for what seemed like a few minutes. All ships were at a full stop and the ocean was ghostly still.
This time it was planned that full silence would reign on all ships after the shots and then an extremely loud yell was to be had by all. Blood curdling I am going to kill you yells.
The horrified look on Maruyama's face told Perry that his message of aggression was heard and he knew was being transmitted across Japan.
By this time in the voyage Perry had warmed to the name of The Black Ship. He learned to say Kurofune in Japanese. The message of power was typical in American gun boat diplomacy. He knew that Maruyama could communicate quicker on land and called Shaw into his quarters to plan where to drop him off.
To make sure his might was known Perry ordered Shaw to fire some fireworks after the cannons at anchor tonight. He ordered to stop the 2pm shots and steam even harder for Edo.
Shaw brought Maruyama back to the main telegraph station on the boat. Along the way Shaw showed Maruyama the thousands of cannon and fireworks ready for deployment. He made special attention to show Maruyama how we use the telegraph to launch the fireworks from a safe distance. Once at the telegraph,
Shaw sent his orders to the crow's nest who then flagged the orders to the other ships.
Maruyama did not believe that the crow's nest got the message and challenged Shaw. Shaw thought about this for a second and the
sense of knowing more than Maruyama felt good. Shaw then said, "I am going to ask you a question. Then I will use the telegraph and you will run and climb to the crow's nest and check if the crewmate has your answer."
"What do you do Mr. Maruyama?" ask Shaw.
"I am a professor of communications at Tokyo University," stated Maruyama who then left the station and ran to the crow's nest. At the perch the sarcastic crew showed Maruyama his job and he just flipped. This was the old "smart" Japans.
Maruyama climbed down the mast visibly dejected. When he got back to the telegraph station he said to Shaw, "Excuse Mr. Shaw, that is a little too much information for me, can I be excused to take a walk?"
Maruyama made a bee line to the main depot for the fireworks. He did not tell Shaw that his father owned a fireworks manufacturing plant and he was his apprentice. Maruyama made sure no one was looking and he climbed under the launch pad and started to prepare to sabotage it. As far as he was told, the fireworks would only be shot in Edo when that bastard Perry was taking gold and presents from the Shogun onto his ship.
Maruyama set firework number 75 to shoot down, not up. Number 75 was a special high velocity shell with the loudest boom of any on the ship. Shaw bragged about this earlier. Maruyama set the fuse on 75 to blow in 3 seconds, much faster than any other time. Maruyama's intent was that the number 75 firework would fire down from the side mounted launching platform. In going down the rocket would go under the ship. The short fuse blow the shell at the keel of the boat and blow a hole in her.
Maruyama was always sneaky and somehow elevated from his father's working class to the most elegant education class. Maruyama was a zealot that all new technology, especially communications, be used only for education. Maruyama thought he was sneaky, but the white tower of academia never prepared him for the street smarts of Commodore Perry.
That evening the flotilla was 3 days from Edo. A full stop was ordered at Yokohama bay. On the beaches and in the bay thousands of Japanese people were seen waving banners and looking somewhat orderly. The many shore batteries and cannons were noticed.
At sunset all four ships fired their cannons. The blasts again sent the crowds in a wild flee. Then the Commodore ordered the first of 5 fireworks to be fired over the visible city. The scream of the rockets was ear piercing and the bay let out a yelp of joy when the first burst into stars. It was like the official start of celebrations and the crowds on the beaches were now approaching in boats and many wading into the bay.
Maruyama and Shaw show at the gantry to the USS Susquehanna and shooed away any visitors. One boat was beautifully garnered with banners with a higher throne like seat featured the Mayor of Yokohama. He was told to wait and as ordered Mr. Shaw saw that Mr. Maruyama was lowered down to the Mayor's boat. Mr. Maruyama told the Mayor that Commodore Perry will only meet the Emperor and with that Shaw pushed their boat away.
The Mayor and his craft made several futile attempts to board the ship. But each time Shaw rebuffed them and told them to arrange a meeting with the Emperor.
Finally, Shaw handed Maruyama the terms and arrangements for the first meeting to discuss the terms and arrangements for Commodore Perry to hand a letter of peace from President Fillmore to the Emperor. He shooed away the boat again and the returned to the Commodore's cabin.
It was just Shaw and the Commodore. "Make sure you lock that door." Whispered Perry making a right hand motion with his hand.
Shaw had told the Commodore earlier that Maruyama had sabotaged the fireworks. Instead of the rage he expected, Commodore was delighted. It turns out that Maruyama came to understand the Telegraph and that it would take him from his base of power. Commodore sensed that as he questioned Maruyama on the voyage here. Maruyama did not know that he has been found out so Commodore and Shaw started hatching a plan.
"If we blow up my ship now, tonight, before arrangements can be made for our treaty I think we can use that event to our advantage in negotiations," schemed Perry. "We have plenty of room on the other ships for our crew, I want you to start moving supplies and men to the other ships quickly and quietly."
At 11pm the Yokohama Bay was beyond still, the full moon reflected our ships on the water. All of the crew were gone except Shaw and myself left on the USS Susquehanna. We started to yell in Japanese words like baka and uso. Stupid and liar. Our voices carried over the bay and then we fired 5 fireworks into the sky. The sounds pierced the silence and exploded. Immediately crowds appeared on the shore, jumping out of their tents. Some of them still up and drinking by the fire. We continued to yell and scream and we fired some pistols into the air. Then a huge round of 25 fireworks launched, then 25 more and 10.
Maruyama was on shore. He was horrified. This was not supposed to happen here. This was supposed to happen when they left. It was supposed to kill Perry.
Shaw set a long fuse to the final barrage knowing full well that 75 was going to sink the boat. He and the Commodore lit the fuse together, took a deep breath and casually jogged and then run to the away craft. One after another the fireworks shot up and exploded. Then the final grand daddy shot down and the bay was shocked and then a muffled BOOM was felt and heard and screams from the crew were thrown in for good effect. The USS Susquehanna, the black ship, sunk in Tokyo bay.
Dr. Smith looked at Commodore, not knowing the ruse, and asked about the chests and booty. "Don't worry Dr. Smith, all treasures, maps and journals are on the USS Mississippi now. Except chests with 1 yen coins, which you noted, float."
The treaty was signed on July 8, 1853 and the markets of Japan were indeed opened by Commodore Matthew Perry. During the after party he gave the Shogun a miniature ride-able train set that launched Japans craze with rolling stock. The train set had miniature Tokyo Station included. Contrary to Maruyama's dream the telegraph was demonstrated and it beat a Japanese runner on a 2 km course to the utter delight of the crowd. The opening of trade by Perry is the lucky side of gunboat diplomacy.
It's complicated, warm and fuzzy. The emotion I felt when I landed at Tokyo station in 2014. The August air was heavy and I could see the Imperial Palace from the Chuo Line platform. The indiscernible part was looking at the wifi cell phones, the gigabit internet as my heart screamed to me that I was directly responsible for the design of the Internet in Japan. After my death on March 4, 1858 I was re - incarnated into Bradley Lawrence Bartz on December 8, 1965.
Before I hand the narration over to Bradley, I implore you to ask him what the hell he did with my Black Ship? The modern day Commodore is Bradley L. Bartz. He did land in Japan in 1989 and he did start the first commercial Internet company in Japan. He rose to fame, was blacklisted by the Japanese government, and was reborn again.
CHAPTER 2 - Blind Leading the Blind to Tokyo
I have been an entrepreneur since being able to talk. This is somewhat an inborn trait and part learned on the road with a band of gypsies. Being lugged in the belly forward to art show after event after street fair all over America. With an extended focus up and down the coast of California. San Diego, Monterrey, San Jose, San Francisco, Redondo Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Beverly Hills, Ojai, Florida, Washington DC, and …
The band of gypsies is my Mom, the artist, Dad the stage hand by weekend and satellite engineer by day. The five kids born from 1958 to 1966 with me at #4 in early December 1965. The family van was stuffed with at least 40 art pieces and art stands and we were fit in like Tetris pieces. Fun and adventure was had. Also, learning how to work hard, present and sell was a matter of course.
The family will complain that I am not painting a picture that we are from "blue" money, but I have proof in photos of our Airstream trailer being parked at Lake Naciamento and garishly painted bright yellow and then huge flowers of oranges, reds and blues. Now, mom and dad worked hard and moved in Palos Verdes California in 1972 and I had the luxury of graduating from the best schools in America.
The hills of Palos Verdes included our three level 1 acre property in Westfield. This western ranch home with a pool and dramatic view of Los Angeles lights below. If we were not working at an art show, we pulled weeds, built a barn and started our own farm in the city. Ducks, chickens, horses and goats.
At 7 years old I asked my dad for a pony. All my siblings had something. He said, "Buddy a pony is 150 bucks if you can give me half of that I will buy you a pony."
So, my venture spirit kicked in and was challenged and I stepped up to the plate. I dragged my younger brother Billy around the neighborhood and collected returnable soda pop bottles. Most labeled at 10 cents each so it did not take long, only two weeks, for Billy and me to make 75 bucks and hand it to a stoic dad. This was the meanest Shetland pony ever! But we loved her and collected more bottles.
I can look back at the business model for the returnable bottles and it had a full cycle of activities that repeated. The door-to-door sales efforts of my brother and I had a built in compelling pitch, "we are saving to buy a pony."
The target was simple, empty returnable soda pop bottles that everyone collected in their garage and meant to return. These days they are the flimsy bio-degradable plastic storage of today, back then it was thick, heavy glass.
So we had to devise a retrieval and distribution system. "Hey mom, would you give us a ride to store we have some returnable soda pops to get money from…"
Mom, was great and would pile us into the van. On the way down the hill we would say, "hey, stop here a sec…" and jump out and fumble through the bushes for a bounty of bottles. That would repeat itself as we wandered down the hill.
At Longs Drugs in Rolling Hills California we piled loads of bottles into two and sometimes three shopping carts full. The business model complete
Two weeks, that's all it took to make 75 bucks. Our pitch after getting the pony was, "we are raising money to feed the pony…"
The pony victory led to many fun adventures in Palos Verdes. The horse trails ran to the ocean and provided freedom to explore. We grew out of horses into motorcycles and setup and a race course across the three levels. Varoom, varoom we would just spend hours jumping and burning rubber.
In junior high school I was in competition selling candy and homemade cinnamon toothpicks with another successful entrepreneur, Michael Zislis. Michael produced concerts in high school and made bucks with the likes of Black Flag. He fed the microbrew boom with boilers and beer restaurants and now owns a chain of cool hotels called Shade.
The fun of selling candy is that the administration did not understand how to regulate what we were doing. At the baseball games I would literally set up a table next the snack shack and sell candy at lower prices.
The cinnamon tooth picks were the bomb. We would basically buy
cinnamon oil and soak a waggle of toothpicks and then wrap them for sale. Zislis was 5 for a quarter and I sold 9 quality, hot and spicy toothpicks for a quarter. Competitive by nature.
As a freshman in high school at 14 I got my first job selling radio advertising for a local station. This was the beginning of learning and becoming a cold call telemarketing king.
Frank Jollee was the DJ and owner of CVLA, Cable Vision Los Angeles which broadcast on the cable network in Palos Verdes, California. Frank also starred and produced a syndicated radio show called "Shaboom Shaboom – This week in 1950"
As you walk into the radio station the couches on the left are not very noticeable. On the right a big window looking at stacks of reelto-reel tapes, recording equipment and microphones. The really cool old microphones that seem to be suspended by springs in the middle of a shiny circle. I belonged right here. So at the age of 14 I was given a desk, a phone book, pitch book, pad, pencil and a black dial telephone.
I spent two years at that desk. I loved it. Dialing for dollars. The pitch was called, "The Blood Bank" and went something like this, "Hi this is Brad Lee calling from CVLA your local stereo station. We are conducting a blood drive on June 1st and was hoping that you might consider supporting our effort. Your ad would sound like …
Once, while I was pitching Frank came up to my left side and started talking to me. I looked up and pointed with my finger to the phone and he just kept talking. I felt flummoxed and put down the phone and said, "what!?"
Frank boomed, "If you put down the phone again you are fired!"
I learned a very valuable lesson that has treated me very good over the years, and that is to listen. On the other end of the phone is a real, live human and my only job was to focus 100% on them and block out everything else. Frank taught this with a grand gesture and threat and I thank him for that.
I took the eraser off the pencil and used that end to dial the rotary phone. The phone handset stayed at my ear. From that moment I became a professional telemarketer and I was only 14 years old!
I sold and sold and just loved it. The best clients were the repeat customers. Learning how to develop a calling route and keep track of leads in the age of no computers was organized.
For a while I thought radio was going to be my career of choice. I learned everything I could about syndication from Frank. I loved the shaboom radio show's music and can still feel and hear Frank's booming voice, "you're listening to Shaboom Radio, April 17, 1950 with Eileen Barton singing ‘If I Knew You Were Comin' Id've Baked a Cake.'
Then the reel-to-reel would engage and spin out such cool tunes. But it was back to the white walls of the telephone room for me.
When I was just 15, December 1980 the great storm blew down hundreds of trees in our town. The destruction was something to see. I quickly asked my brother Mike to drive the truck and grab some chain saws from the shed. It did not take but a few hundred feet of driving to make our first sale and we cut that tree out of the driveway and hauled it away. B&B Gardening was launched.
We marketed by fliers. At first we just stuck them in mailboxes, but the postman got pretty pissed at us. So we then just taped our fliers to the outside of the mail box, but this pissed them off too. So we just went door to door and sold B&B.
We made great money from cutting down big trees but the business was built on a monthly service route of mowing lawns and trimming bushes.
1,000 fliers made us $2,000 in business. Every time.
We printed cute fliers and some designed by artist mom. Many of those fliers got stuck on refrigerators and generated calls for more than 4 years! Our distribution really took a rise using windshields at parking lots. After high school was done just kick the skateboard into motion and pass out flyers. 1,000 flyers $2,000 in work. Repeat!
Competition in the gardening business lead me to a mentor and lifelong friend in Lou Blanchard. After winning and losing business to Lou on my "hill" we met and agreed to jointly market and get the work done. The first job we pitched was a Mr. Lynch in Rolling Hills Estates, I remember his name because I went to school with his kid since knee high.
Mr. Lynch had a huge tree in his front yard that he wanted greatly trimmed and hauled away. Lou and I took in the information and then we spoke on the side. This was my client so my lead on the sale. Lou and I agreed on $500 bucks and went back to Mr. Lynch. I smiled and said our price and Mr. Lynch almost barfed!
Lou touched my arm and said quietly, "Turn around and walk". And I did.
Mr. Lynch's driveway was long, very long. Lou and I walked down the driveway leaving Mr. Lynch standing there. I whispered to Lou, "hey man I can do this cheaper." And Lou said, "Just wait…" As we were about to step from the driveway to the street Mr. Lynch called out and said, "OK!" and we turned around and made our deal.
This is simplified as "He who speaks first loses."
While working to build B&B with Lou and others I still worked at the radio station. Lou then pulled out a pitch book and started to brag about his telemarketing skills. This led to a mind blowing 3 years of selling something in every state of America over the phone. The lessons learned combined with the B&B flyer experience built my sales skills to a new, usually not obtainable, level.
At 17 years old Lou, myself and Stanley Musser started selling eyeglasses to eye doctors for Hodes Optical in Torrance, California. I started making $500 a week selling eye glass frames. The trio was an incredible team that each worked about 500 doctor's offices across the country. Lou was the velvet voice and Stanley the human computer.
Stanley's system was to use a code to mark a desk calendar to record when to call a prospect. Each folder was simply labeled as A1, A2, A3, A4, etc. On the calendar you simply put "A1" on the date and then filled the client data. On that date you would pull the A1 folder and prepare to call the client.
Each client folder had a master client sheet that included name, title, address, topics discussed, jokes used (not kidding) and other metrics that made our job of selling eye glasses easier. The organization was primarily focused on the top of the form leaving plenty of writing space for additional notes. The ability to build a route of doctors to call and when to do it still makes me money today.
A few key lessons were learned during my telemarketing years with Lou. Most of them are focused on "tones". Learning to figure out someone's personality, mood from the tone of their voice. The first exercises were to identify, mark and chart the type of person your target is. This was done with a sheet of paper with 7 different hand drawn faces from happy to sad to angry. The goal of the exercise is to make the checkmark in the first 5 seconds and to not get distracted from listening to your client.
At Hodes Optical there were a lot of mirrors that belong in eye doctor's offices.
One day my desk was rearranged and a giant mirror sat behind my phone. At least I had graduated to a push button phone! The day began and I started making calls while looking at myself in the mirror. I was almost immediately astonished in how my facial expressions changed the tone of my own voice. That was distracting when I first noticed, then I disappeared from the mirror.
My face became the facial expressions of the voice I was hearing, the tone of voice I was hearing. I was talking to them. The mirror made the client be right in front of me. Lou then had me combine lesson 1, identifying the tone and this and my rate of speech started to match the clients.
Lou did not tell me this would happen, he let it go one for a week or two. I was selling and it was spectacular. My pitch book was thrown out the window, my sales pitches turned into conversations. My sales route became friends. I actually started to get invited to "go waterskiing in Montana" or fishing in Alaska.
FOCUS. All of a sudden about 6 months into the job at Hodes Optical, Lou just kept saying Focus. It was his key and favorite word. The effort to was to ‘focus' my listening to the next level.
The exercise, which one has to be very careful with, is to listen for a keyword that a client uses again and again in his speech. I was taught that every human on the planet has a keyword or phrase that will be used for a few days and replaced by a new keyword or phrase. The goal was to identify that word and then be able to use that word or its derivative in a sentence. Without getting caught.
Roger at Hodes Optical was a dick. At least in the way he behaved to our telemarketing team. His outdoor sales team was far superior was always that rant Roger would sing in our office. But, Roger was always dressed like a salesman with great suits and shiny shoes.
We knew it was Roger walking into our office that day. We really did get used to hearing his clickity-clack of his shoes. At least today we had the jolly old fella in Mr. Hodes joining him. When Mr. Hodes was around, Roger was always nicer and we knew it would be some type of pep talk.
"We have something really special for you guys to sell, it's a new frame set called The Amy," exclaimed Mr. Hodes. "We named it after Roger's daughter. It's a horn-rimmed preppy frame in 7 cool colors. We want to offer to a bonus to sell these. What do you think?"
"How much?" Asked Lou.
"We will pay you your regular commission plus 2 bucks per frame you sell!" Promoted Mr. Hodes.
"We really think you guys are great and hope can help sell The Amy," Chimed in Roger as the door closed behind him.
We all looked at each other and almost simultaneously removed any non-Amy sale material from our desks. From that moment on we only sold Amy. That was it.
It was a fun and lively sale. The Amy frame was a popular choice and the colors were many years ahead of iMac. We sold them in a variety pack of 7 different colored frames to all of our accounts.
For a whole month we did nothing but write Amy orders and push them to shipping. It was friggin' fantastic. I sold 780 pairs. Lou at 900 and Stanley at 720. We were rock stars and we knew it. We counted our commissions and planned on more sales.
I bought a new 1983 Toyota 4x4 Red pickup truck. I was in High
School and making bank. Making a sale was addicting. It is addicting.
We heard the clickity-clack of Roger's shoes again. Mr. Hodes was with him, but as the door opened his face was long and drawn. The shipping staff were standing behind them.
"How could you…." Screamed Mr. Hodes. "We can't deliver that many Amy frames. What the hell were you guys thinking?"
You are fired.
This episode will be better told in a short movie.
To say that I was shocked was not enough. I was an 18 year old sales king getting fired! We did not do anything wrong, we just did not understand supply. Since Roger, the "Sales manager", hated us so much he never managed us. We did not ever think to check that inventory would be available. So, at a very young age I learned the most important lesson in business. DO NOT SELL MORE THAN YOU CAN DELIVER Amy. Oh Amy. This is the most important business lesson that I have yet to encounter. "Don't Sell More Than You Can Deliver."
But, don't let that strong statement stop you from being able to deliver anything that you dream of. Just remember the practical side of manufacturing, supply chains and your team's abilities. Also, be willing to sacrifice profit to hire the best technicians needed for your deliverables. At 18 and adrift again. Oh no. Let's wax on about other daily life at that time. Lou and I still had our Gardening business that was making some money, mainly when we got tree removal jobs. But, the sales bug bit me hard. I talked Lou and Stanley into finding a new eyeglass company to sell for.
We found a new company in San Francisco, Shane & Michaels. They carried 200+ different frames including hot new sunglasses from Polo.
The trip to visit them the first time is another film vignette in that Lou had not flown since Vietnam and he was rip-roaring drunk when Stan and I picked him up to go to LAX. Oh Shit I was so pissed. I was 18, dressed in a borrowed suit and my excitement level of my first business trip was just too much.
For same damn reason Lou knew we had the power. Our telemarketing across the country to optical shops created a stir. It's the first time it happened and the Amy story was used to sell our skills.
We stated to Shane & Michael, "We hope you can deliver what we can sell…"
Mr. Brown objected to our rapid adoption by Mr. Shane and Mr. Michael. Lou shut him down once again with a, "Shut the fuck up."
To a very surprised Mr. Brown but a delighted Shane and Michael. "Let's do it," they both said.
They gave us one of each frame they carried – 200+ units of everything you could image. I wore contacts at the time so the sunglass collection became mine quickly. Polo were my favorite with their purpled mirrored gold aviator frames.
Back at SFO we finally were not mad at Lou. In fact, it was time for a drink!
Quickly we got back to work dialing-for-dollars. Off to a slow start Lou jumped us, "sell the man that can call a thousand for you." Again and again this short little wonder of man would repeat.
Stanley and I began our research in earnest the only we really knew how, buy asking the doctors and optometrists we were calling. One city name kept coming up … Pomona, California and Dr. Yamamoto.
I cold called and got an appointment right away.
I picked up Lou in the morning in my new Toyota 4x4 pickup. This time he was dressed nice and not drunk. I was very relieved, stressed and excited. I had a suit from my grandfather on. A polyester brown blend that was just a little too short. (Think Napoleon Dynamite.)
We drove the 10 freeway to Pomona. I can still remember climbing the hill wondering how long will it take to get to the top? I can still see Lou smug in the passenger seat knowing he is taking the lead in my first official outdoor sales call for selling eyeglasses. I had sold gardening for years, but I was in a suit!
We were both very excited about what we learned about Dr. Yamamoto's operation. We heard from other optical shops that he had a co-op for over 1,000 eye doctor and optometrists offices. With a choice of over 200 Shane & Michael frames we were counting the potential.
When we arrived in Pomona we were not disappointed.
The front of the buying coop was a very brightly lit retail eyeglass shop with very pretty girls behind the counters. As Lou and I came into the store the ladies all looked and made us feel very welcome. Did I say they were cute? We were offered some coffee while we waited and strolled around looking at the glasses.
After a bit the prettiest one came up and politely took us to the back of the store and to Dr. Yamamoto's office.
The office of Dr. Yamamoto was not similar to the white sterile light of the retail store. As our eyes adjusted to the much darker room as we were seated in two very large plush red leather chairs facing the cherry desk. Dr. Yamamoto dressed in a white medical jacket, dark black plastic framed thick glasses and no smile. The carpet was dark red and the walls were lined with red-bound legal books. All quite impressive. I would later come to refer to this look as being in a David Lynch movie. Dr. Yamamoto spoke a greeting and invited us to get started. Lou spent a few minutes telling Dr. Yamamoto about ourselves and nodded to me to tell him about the Shane & Michael frames. I jumped right in and felt at as home selling in person as I did on the phone. Lou then took the helm again with some more friendly chatter and asked a simple, salesman question #1, what does Yamamoto Optical Co-op do?
Dr. Yamamoto started explaining about his firm. His demeanor was nothing special at first. He just seemed to ramble on about how he started the buying coop. Then, his face and voice started to get animated.
"The doctor friends I called all thought it was a great idea," said Dr. Yamamoto. He continued and I notice he started to look a little
agitated. He voice started to rise, "I then started calling the manufacturers." Lou was quiet and so was I. He was my sempai and I just a student. Dr. Yamamoto said, "Many of these fuckers told me off and laughed at me." His face red now and my pulse racing. "Now… I have 1,100 stores in my Co-op. Now they come to me, but I remember who was naughty and who was nice. The manufacturers that were rude to me and laughed at my co-op…." and with a huge voice Dr. Yamamoto grabbed a samurai sword from behind his desk with a sweeping motion of his left hand reaching over his right shoulder. Lou touch my leg and whispered ever so quietly, "Don't move." My hearing was peaking and my heart was pounding. Dr. Yamamoto lunged out of his chair and with this sword in kill position, he jumped up and yelled, "Now I cut their fucking heads off!" and the blade swung right in front of Lou and I with Dr. Yamamoto ending up standing on top of his desk. I did not move and indeed the blade did come right across our faces. The Dr. sat down. No emotion and silence ensued. "I … Like … You ..." In a southern slow drawl, said Lou slapping his knee. Dr. Yamamoto smiled and laughed. We did too. Dr. Yamamoto said yes and agreed to carry Shane & Michael frames and sell them to his co-op. We were delighted. Dr. Yamamoto then pressed a button and the books on the wall opened to a bunch of television screens all showing various shots of the retail shop. The old pervert showed us his collection of beautiful and sexy optical specialists, in real-time. If it was today, we would have called Shane & Michael from a cell phone, but back in 1983 I had just finished high school! Lou and I
were on sales cloud 9. We talked out loud, "hey, if we just sell four frames per doctor's shop that's 4400 frames!!!" We got back to Lou's home and immediately called Shane & Michael. Mr. Brown answered the phone. We told him that we landed the whale Dr. Yamamoto and that we wanted to work closely with Mr. Brown to really get it done right. I was surprised when Lou was so tactful with Mr. Brown. We got all smiles and kudos from Mr. Shane and Mrs. Michael. Stanley, Lou and I were pleased with the conversation and report and hung up the phone. The next day, Dr. Yamamoto called us and told us the deal was off. It seems Mr. Brown, Mr. Shane and Mrs. Michael decided to go around us and try and negotiate directly. Dr. Yamamoto told us he will not do any business with Shane and Michael and he said he would never buy from them. He also told us that he liked us. Years later, in 2000, I called Dr. Yamamoto and thanked him for that day. He confided that he hated Shane & Michael on the day we visited. He also said that his samurai routine happened quite often. Someday I hope to meet another bloke that experienced the red velvet of Dr. Yamamoto and his blade a swingin'. The trio of Stanley, Lou and Brad fell apart after this. We still collaborated on tree cutting and gardening jobs. We remained very good friends.
As the fall came I started school at El Camino College. On my very first day I parked in the school parking lot with my Toyota 4x4. I was late and excited to get to my first class. I locked the truck and started towards the buildings.
"What time is it?" said future friend and business partner Eric Carlson with his white blind man's cane tapping away in front of him.
I was taken aback. Lou and I have been just talking about teaching our telemarketing skills to blind students and here in front of me was the first blind person I ever met.
It seems my ‘hibachi' sandals from Mexico were loud and squeaky
so Eric could hear me.
I gushed out my name and introduced myself and in almost one breathe said, "I'm a telemarketer and I want to teach blind people how to sell."
Eric answered with, "What for! I am a telemarketer!"
We became fast friends and would start Telemarketing Visions Institute, Inc, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization after I graduated from Marymount College with an AA degree and got kicked out of my home.
At El Camino College I floundered along while I worked selling insurance for Gary Gaudet. Gary was a family friend and someone I always looked up to and wanted to be like. I used to stand next to him and comb my curly hair back and demand that it be strait like his. Gary was a great salesman and he also guided my career. Eric and I both did lead generation for Gary and we got him lots of new clients.
My folks called my one day and said, if you want to go to Marymount College we will pay for it. I jumped at the chance. Marymount College is on the top of the hill in Palos Verdes with commanding ocean views and Catalina Island. The 2 year private school has 700 students from around the world with many from very rich families and royalty.
I continued to run my gardening business while at Marymount and employed several of my college buddies to work. We always had cash because I always had work.
At the end of 1.5 years I was 2 classes away from having the credits needed to get my diploma. I went out with Kevin Capra, my best friend at Marymount and we got smashed eating Quaaludes and smoking pot. On my way home in my 4x4 I got pulled over for a broken tail light.
The long story short is I went to jail and got thrown out of my family home. I fought my ticket and won with the very best lawyer in Los Angeles.
I knew I had to get my diploma from Marymount so I concocted a plan. The two classes cost $750. I asked the president of Marymount if I could climb the 13 palm trees and cut/clean the branches and trade for my class fees.
President McFadden said, "All right, if you have insurance you got a deal."
I then called Gary Gaudet and told him what I was doing and asked him if I could do some gardening to trade for insurance. He said yes.
It was late May 1986 and the weather was grand. The ocean glistened and Catalina Beckoned. As I gathered my equipment and put on my climbing harness I walked into the pool area to start my climb. To my surprise was Adelaide sitting by the pool in her bikini just smiling and making my knees week. The bikini was bright pink and breasts I fondled just weeks before caught me off guard.
It was a night to remember just weeks ago on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The Marymount formal was the social event we were all looking forward to. I somehow got a date with Adelaide. Kevin Capra, his girlfriend Maryann, Adelaide and I carpooled together to the boat.
The event was great and booze flowed. Back in 1986 bars simply did not card that often. It did soon become apparent that I was the token date for Adelaide as she had eyes for Rick the short version of Magnum P.I. who at Marymount was the school psychologist. As the night continued, the wall became my friend. As Adelaide danced with Rick I escaped the ballroom and at the rail of the Queen Mary tore off my tie and threw it into the wind.
I walked peacefully around the boat and found my way to the upper deck bar and a group of Marymount friends. I can't remember the names of this group except I have the vivid memory of a blond that looks like the gal in Greys Anatomy saying, "hey! … There's Princess Leia of Star Wars!"
The group looked over and giggled and gaggled. My Grey's blondie then dared me to go ask Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, to dance.
I said sure!
The upper deck was an oblong bar with windows all the way around with the twinkling lights of Long Beach in the background. I got up from the bar and sauntered over to Princess Leia.
I politely interrupted and said, "My name is Brad, would you like to dance?"
She demurred and looked up and said, "No thank you."
I smiled and said thank you and then said, "You know the girls over there dared me to come over here and my date left with a teacher, any chance you could reconsider…." As my head started to hang lower and I made the motion that I am leaving.
Then, to my very surprise Princess Leia got up and said "yes, I will dance with you."
I took her hand and started an American Swing session that was worthy of today's dancing with the stars. We floated across the dance floor and with each snapping turn I would glance at the giggling gaggling girls and smile.
The dance was one and over, but I will always be grateful to Ms. Fisher for making me look good and allowing me to have a huge smile as I went back to the ballroom.
As the dance ended Kevin, Maryann, Adelaide and I made our exit to the car. Adelaide was sufficiently drunk and bubbly for spending the time with her future husband. She allows me certain favors in the back seat of the car on the way home that night. My JR is getting excited just writing about it now.
Kevin and Maryann smirked a lot on the ride home, but my Princess Leia story slayed them so no pity needed for me.
After I said hello to Adelaide at the pool and smiled wide. I put on the climbing spikes, checked that my chain saw started and proceeded to climb the palm trees around the pool first.
I took my time. With Adelaide in the pink bikini my boner kept
getting in the way of moving my climbing belt. I do want to take this time and personally thank the inventor of the Bikini. You sir, are my hero. Mr. Yoga pants guy, your second.
Palm tree branches cut like butter and fall like a floating feather in a vacuum. The thud and then the strange sound when it drills into the grass below.
Part of my deal in trading the Palm Tree labor was that others would pick up the mess. I finished the trees and said goodbye to Adelaide.
Dr. McFadden was impressed and I finished my last two classes to get my AA college degree from Marymount. I did it.
I would do the same thing at Loyola Marymount University but this time with the Westchester golf course across the street. I traded with the golf manager for 1 year of free golf and driving range access. I was a business student and I knew I had to learn how to play golf. When I was done trimming 28 palm trees the manager was so impressed he also gave me his personal set of Tailor Made clubs. I still play with those clubs today.
After classes finished that summer at Marymount I was still doing telemarketing and seeing blind Erick all the time.
In the summer of 1986, I founded a company called Telemarketing Visions Institute, Inc. (TVI). TVI was a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation whose mission was to teach sales and telemarketing skills to blind folks and get them jobs. I did all of the business plan and legal paperwork to get approvals.
TVI still holds the most magical day in my life when I was present as one of my blind students, John Logan, a 42 year old gentleman, who got his first paycheck. The smile on his face still rings true more than 30 years on.
In founding TVI, I did all of the legal paperwork for corporate non-profit status, the business planning, fund raising, curriculum development and teaching. Our board of directors included the Dr. Gordon Patzer, a marketing / business professor at Loyola Marymount, Lou Blanchard, Eric Carlson, myself and local business leaders.
Over the years, TVI educated and placed into jobs 6 blind students. We also received talking computers from IBM and vendor status from the California Department of Rehabilitation. I was 19 in 1986.
In the summer of 1986 I knew that I needed to get into university and get a diploma in order to do anything in life. I took my TVI business plan and went to see the Dean of the Business School at the University of Southern California (USC) to ask him for a scholarship for being an entrepreneur. He laughed me out of his office. Wait, wait, wait, it wasn't a laugh … it was a roar! I heard that roar lasting the whole trip down the long hallway.
I then contacted Dr. Fred Kiesner, the professor of entrepreneurial studies at Loyola Marymount and asked him if his senior Strategic Management class would be interested in doing a case study on my blind non-profit TVI. He said yes! This was August of 1986.
I knew that I had to go to school at Loyola Marymount to really take advantage of the student team from Dr. Kiesner's class. So I put on my hand-me-down-from-my-grandpa suit, grabbed my skateboard (I had lost my driver's license from too many speeding tickets…), and hitched-hiked to Loyola Marymount University.
I went to the admissions office and stood at the counter and told the clerk that I need to start school on that Wednesday. She looked at me incredulously, and said … What? I went on to loudly tell her that I wanted to see the Dean of Admissions to tell him about TVI and Dr. Kiesner's agreement to do a case study.
From a darkened room a voice boomed that said, "Show that boy in."
And for the life of god I can't remember his name, but the Director of Admissions sat there for 10 minutes while I told him of my vision for TVI and how I can really leverage Dr. Kiesner's class by being enrolled as a student and the whole sales pitch. He asked about my college transcripts and said come back tomorrow with those and we can talk.
NOTE: According to the current director of admissions at LMU,
"Your question is an easy one- there have only been two Directors of Admission in LMU's history, me, since 1990, and Mitch L'Heureux, who I succeeded. So, Mitch was the director in 1986."
I grabbed my skateboard from the bushes and swung my briefcase and rolled down to Pacific Coast Highway to hitch a ride to El Camino College, Harbor College and Marymount Jr. College to get my transcripts. Cost me 2 bucks each.
I showed up at the admissions office at Loyola the next day and again got a meeting with the dean. We chatted for 10 or 15 minutes and then he yelled out to the clerk and said, "Write this boy up an admissions letter."
She was floored. And so was I.
I took that letter down the hall and immediately registered for two classes that would start the next day. I then went to the message board to find a place to live. I found a great house a few blocks from campus that had office desks in the living room, three bedrooms and an amazingly huge backyard on Creighton Avenue. The desks sold it for me and I moved in that evening and started university the next day.
A Bartz Venture Moment: This life is about doing what you want. Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes you have to plan and work for it. But, all the time you have to ask for it.
The desks in the living room is where Telemarketing Visions Institute established its headquarters and started its revolution. From 1986 to 1989 17 Loyola Marymount students from 7 different business classes did case studies on TVI. During my senior year TVI had three employees whose wages where paid 80% by Loyola Marymount for 20 hours a week each. It cost me a dollar an hour to have these workers!
I was a computer geek thanks to my mom. Our first computer was a Kaypro and in high school I had a PC with a 2x 5 ¼" floppy disk drives. I had "Harvard Graphics" so was able to make some really cool looking reports and proposals.
I wrote to Mr. Mike Anxious, a local manager at IBM headquarters in Westchester, California. Just down street from Loyola Marymount University on Lincoln Blvd.
One of the most successful things I did by age 19 was to get IBM to donate talking computers to TVI in 1987. The biggest memorable moment was in getting the call from Mr. Anxious telling me that they liked my work with the blind and IBM wanted to support TVI's vision.
BUT… he then said, "Brad, if you don't mind, could you send me your proposal again? Because you signed your letter with, ‘We look forward to working with Apple'"
I fell out of my chair and was standing at attention. Yes Sir I said. I am so sorry. Wow I am so embarrassed…..
Mr. Anxious was great! And just told me to fix and that the GM for the IBM center for disabilities in Atlanta, Georgia wanted to meet me next week.
Right after that visit 6 computers arrived that could all talk. In 1987 IBM allowed me to become a computer geek by using technology to read out loud leads for blind telemarketers to call.
TVI started servicing Blind students introduced by the Braille Institute and the California Department of Rehabilitation.
The first class was ‘soft' and accommodating for the blind students. From then on it was simple, if you want to learn how to sell show up and work, if you want to wine about being blind go home. Frankly I did not know I had it in me, but the ability to teach came naturally.
My students started to get jobs. Blind salespeople from around the country also used my recommendations to get jobs. In total we trained and placed 6 blind students to be telemarketers while I was a full (3/4) time student.
One student got a job at IBM.
Previously unemployed, Max Coates got a full time job at IBM as a customer service representative. I was so utterly proud and then the most profound thing happened.
Max called me and said he quit.
I said, "are you fucking crazy!? IBM is a lifetime job. You can retire great."
Max then said, "Ms. Jan from the California Department of
Rehab called and said that I should not work so much that I might lose my benefits." He stopped, choked up a bit, and continued, "She said that if I lose my benefits and then lose my job and won't be able to get them back for at least 6 months."
"So I quit," stated Max plainly.
I was furious. I called Jan at the Department of Rehab and told her off.
I was in my last semester at Loyola Marymount University in the spring of 1989. I only had two classes on my way out, Japanese and freshman history. Japanese was pass/fail and freshman history provided me with some of the best humor of my college career.
Except for my earlier Statistics course and our project management data analysis. I wrote a program that answered the question, ‘how many drinks your date should have to increase your chances of getting laid?' It was elegant software taking in weight, height, and personality into consideration. The answer came back every time as 2.9 drinks. Before 2.9 drinks the gals are just not happy yet. 4 drinks or more and you had a sloppy drunk on your hands. And that is no good.
I got an A. But, the professor liked it so much that he told the whole class about my program. He wrote it up on the board and showed my statistics logic in play. I was complete shade of white, a ghost. The class was 2/3 female and the eyes drilled into me. Oooopps. I was so mad at that professor.
Also, I should have been teaching the Sales Management course (sorry Mr. Grey). This class was funny. Everyday Mr. Grey would call on me to tell a sales story or comment. My insights back then were very powerful. One day Mr. Grey called on me and I said, "I am not going to participate anymore until more people in this class do." Those were the last words I said in this class. Students got nervous and the one in front of me turned around and said, Brad, please tell us what you think …." Nope.
Although TVI was very successful it did not pay me. So I got a telemarketing job in Culver City at Fox Enterprises (not the movie company). I finally got my license back so I was able to drive my Chevy Malibu to the shop. Fox raised money for the Audubon Society and other non-profit groups.
The training was for 10 new employees. In a special room with 10 cubicle work stations. They handed each of us 10 leads and a pitch to sell calendars for Audubon. At this point I have 5 solid years of telemarketing under my belt, but what happened next still surprises me to this day.
We all picked up the phones and dialed our first call together. I sell my first one and the manager puts his hand on my shoulder and says, "good job, do it again."
I dialed #2. I sold it. The room got real quiet. All phones were put down except for mine. Managers from other departments started to show up, but I did not see them yet. I was totally in my zone.
I dialed #3. I sold it.
Before this the room was quiet, but not it was silent.
I dialed #4. I sold it.
Now for me, everyone in the room disappeared. It was just me and my phone and my human on the other side. Complete focus.
I dialed #5. Missed.
The room let out a sigh.
I dialed #6. I sold it. #7, #8, #9 and #10 all sold.
Ding Dong. Knock knock knock.
I force myself out of my chair and dragged myself towards the front door.
Ding Dong. Knock knock knock.
I opened the door and a blind guy was standing there.
He said, "Hi I am Michael and I am selling brooms made by blind people."
I bought a broom. Shut the door and went back to my desk and started unpacking my boxes. I was back in the TVI business.
Life is sudden, funny, mysterious and friendly. I love her and hope my journey pleases her.
That afternoon I saw Dr. Kiesner on the campus and he told me about a venture business conference taking place at the Los Angeles Airport Marriot the next day.
I put on that same suit I wore to Dr. Yamamoto's and got my skateboard and rode to the venue. I stashed my board in the bushes and snuck into the conference.
It was big event and I came because Dr. Kiesner told me that Richard Riordan was speaking. Riordan was a founder of Mattel Toys and toys are cool.
After Mr. Riordan gave his speech I put up my hand to ask this question, "How do you decide to invest in a company?"
Mr. Riordan responded quickly with, "I take them out and get them drunk, if they can handle the booze, then they can handle my money."
This has served me very well through all of my business career. Particularly in Japan. Drink well, show no drunk, wait for 5 minutes of business talk, resume drink and show no drunk, repeat.
In March of 1989 my parents told me that they were giving me a one-month vacation trip to Japan for my graduation present.
I started researching when to go and determined that August 17, 1989 would be perfect because the United Nations was having the 10 year of Disabled Persons Conference in Yokohama the following week.
I wrote the 7 largest disabled institutes to request time to visit their facilities, this included The Blind Center in Tokyo and the Helen Keller Center.
It was the extremely generous nature of these 7 institutes that began my true love affair with Japan. One of the largest institutes sent me the home-stay offer.
My home-stay sister, Asako Yamagata, was the translator for the president and helped me arrange my visit the UN conference and more importantly invited me into her family. The three sisters, 21, 23 and 25 and the mom and dad who would truly become my Japanese mom and dad and really great friends.
At Loyola Marymount University as a senior in 1989 I had two classes in my final semester; Japanese and Freshman History. I really did not know that both of these classes would draw so much into the next 10 years of my life.
The Japanese class allowed me to land in Japan pre-connected with a host-family and to at least have a feel for the language. I could say arigato and O Genki Desu Ka?
My freshman history class taught me how to engage myself during long and boring meetings and slip in just enough questions to show that I'm in the room.
CHAPTER 3 - Japan - Teaching English, Selling Wine and Fast Cars
LANDING IN THE LAND OF MY DREAMS
I landed in Japan August 18, 1989, (25 years ago this moment as I write) sitting next to me on the airplane from Los Angeles was Tomoko Sakai who would become my wife, friend, mother and the love of my life.
During the long flight she told me of her three weeks in an American home-stay to learn English. She helped me write my name in Katakana (Japanese language for foreign words) on the back of my TVI business cards. I was writing it in hiragana and she corrected me saying that katakana was how to write foreign words. This was not her last correction! We exchanged contacts and set a date to see each other in a few days in Yokohama.
After saying good bye to Tomoko I was greeted by Makiko Yamagata to take me to her home for my home-stay. I remember Maki as being very cute and matched her tennis hobby in her energy. She helped me schlep my bags to the train at Tokyo station where my wow I'm in Japan moment occurred on the Chuo Line train outdoor platform that has a view of the Japanese Imperial Palace.
It was at this moment that I knew I was Japanese in a previous life. I felt instantly at peace and a feeling of belonging. Besides my affinity for Japanese women, it was the spirit of Japan that got me. I still refer to this moment in my mind to try and understand my tenure in Japan. Now as this story has spilled on these pages I realize I might not have been Japanese in a previous life, but I was here.
My love of Japan began at a very early age. In second grade I remember a cute Korean girl coming to class on her first day. Wow, my life stopped at that moment. Please sit next to me! Over the years I would be exposed to more Japanese culture and foods from my mom and her artist friend Frank Guiku. Frank is Japanese American who is just the coolest.
Our families would often get sushi and eat Japanese food. We regularly ate with chopsticks and that seemed unique in our white neighborhood.
I studied Japanese at uni and continued to date Japanese girls. In fact, in 1997 I got interviewed by Ms. Angela Jeffs of the Japan Times. Her first question to me was, "Brad, what brought you to Japan?"
"I like the women." I answered.
Ms. Jeffs put down her pen and reporters pad. She looked up at me and said, "I have been asking foreign executives that question for 25 years and you are first one to answer it truthfully."
So, ok, convict me, I like Japanese women.
I landed on August 18, 1989. The following Monday I trained it to Yokohama for the United Nations Conference for the year of disabled persons. My father gave me a large Panasonic video camera and tripod. I set this up at the conference as a guest and recorded the proceedings. In doing so I got to meet many wonderful people.
That first evening I got an offer to go drinking and I quickly said yes. After the event I met with the translator and the president of the largest disabled institute in Japan. I cannot remember either name now, but the elder president was in his 70s and the translator was about 40.
A taxi ride can change your life.
We got in the taxi with translator up front and me and the old man at the windows in the back seat. The taxi driver asked in Japanese, "Where do you want to go?"
The president answered back in the nastiest tone of Japanese I have ever heard, "It depends on the driver." I still remember this tone 25 years later.
Then the translator told me what he said then instructed the taxi driver to take us to Akasaka.
My first Monday night in Japan was spent in a red velvet hostess club. At 23 years old I was just flabbergasted. 4 beauties quickly sat down with us and started giggling and smiling. I am talking 8s and 9s here. The best looking women of Japan work in Akasaka. I learned over the years that 5pm is a great time to be at an outside café just watching the talent go to work. We call it our Tokyo beach.
We sang and drank whisky and water. The girls would change out and one could speak English. The black table was filled with drinks, ice buckets, bottles and snacks. The red velvet couches were soft and fuzzy.
The bill came to over $5,000 for the evening. The president paid and then gave me a taxi coupon for the 2 hour ride home to Kunitachi. A taxi ride that cost over $300!
Wow. On that taxi ride home I made up my mind to stay in Japan. This, just my 3rd day.
I continued every day to the conference in Yokohama that week.
On Wednesday night I went to Roppongi. Not knowing where to go I just wandered the red-light district and found Gas Panic Bar. The bar was on a side alley just kitty-cornered to McDonalds. Neon signs bright with GAS PANIC invited me in.
The bar was loud and on the right was the long bar. Three gaijins sat at the counter. I walked past them to see the rest of the bar. The back section had layers of seating along the walls and a few hotties hanging about.
I went back to the bar, ordered a beer and said hi to the gaijins.
Mike Fink, Ken Darwin and Barton. I introduced myself and asked what they did.
Fink said, "We sell Shoe-Goo."
I fell off my chair.
The last 2 years I ran a 5k/10k race as a fund raiser for Telemarketing Visions Institute (TVI) at Loyola Marymount University and one of my sponsors was Shoe-Goo!
We became fast friends and I am happy to say that many funny stories will be told in the following pages with these crazy ones. Many stories won't be told...
On Thursday I met Tomoko, my seat mate on the plane over to Japan and now my wife, for coffee in Yokohama. We had a nice time with our dictionaries. At that time we were just friends.
By September I had a job teaching English at Interac. After 1 week in Japan I loved it! I picked up the Japan Times Newspaper and looked at their over flowing classified ad section. Interac's ad was big and the first one I called.
"Can you come in today for an Interview?" Asked Interac.
I came in, filled out a quick form, said hello, and then they handed me some books and a job schedule. I think they may have taken my pulse, but that is about it! I was hired! I remember it as 3,000 yen an hour.
I was still living with my host family at that time. Papa took me aside and he said, "Brad we like you very much, but I don't trust you with my daughters. You have to go."
He said it with such a wonderful smile and that mischievous grin. Papa Yamagata and his family were great to me. The daughters were 21, 23 and 25 and all gorgeous and smart.
So, I moved into my sister's friend's brother's apartment in Setagaya, just a few stops outside of Tokyo's Shibuya fashion district.
David Sandrich and the 4 bedroom ‘fours company' in Setagaya. Two Americans and two Taiwanese girls sharing an apartment. It was awesome! Some of the funniest people I've met. David's roommate was a fulltime Japanese language student and his best technique of learning Japanese is singing Japanese karaoke every evening. Jason went on to work at Symphony Partners, a hedge fund the buys mid cap companies with management.
David was also impressed that I would go out by myself to Roppongi. I just thought it was a continued part of the entertainment experience.
My job at Interac was starting to become routine after just 2 weeks. My stay at Setagaya came to an end and I again referred to classifieds in the Japan Times to find a place to live.
I moved to a Gaijin House in Musashi Sakai with Bob, 4.5 tatami mats and pay shower. Bob's sister was a key delegate at the UN Disabled event in Yokohama. She is absolutely beautiful in mind and spirit and body. Her disability is not an obstacle for her.
The 15 house mates in Musashi Sakai were an electric group to say the least. We shared a kitchen and had to pay 100 yen per 3 minutes of showering. The room was big enough to lay two futons to sleep. The road and building would shake when the city bus roared by.
The 20 minute bike ride to the station marks my first invention that I pursued with full force in Japan. The problem I was solving was simple and obvious that it was happening to many people. At Musashi Sakai train station the number of bikes parked was enormous. Bikes were parked everywhere.
When I and others came home from drinking and debauchery we could not find our bikes! So I designed Bikefinder: a remote control for a light to find your bike.
I registered Bikefinder at the Bike Cultural Center which was right across the street from the US Embassy in Tokyo. I also mailed my plans and drawings to myself. I made sure a stamp was placed on the seal and the Japanese postmaster also time stamped that too. A poor man's copyright.
Bob and I moved from the Gaijin House to a swank Ohmori Apartment. The $2,000 month rent was steep for us, but it was heaven compared to the 4.5 tatami mat room we shared for half that much.
I then read in The Japan Times that a car company Ichiko, was looking to fund ideas. I reached out to them with Bikefinder and guess who I found? Mike Fink!
Mike did not bite on Bikefinder but he did introduce me to the inventor and owner of the Vector Car Company. This was in my first 90 days in Japan and upon return to LA I went to the Vector Car factory. Wow, I got to represent the fastest production sports car in the world in Japan! Ask me about Club Junko in Ginza! A $20,000 evening. Hmmmmmm.
About 2 weeks before my 90 day tourist visa was up (note I was illegally working as an English teacher.) My mom told me I got a letter from Tomoko saying how nice it was to meet me. Tomoko did not know that I stayed past my one-month schedule. I called her and set up a date.
I invited her for coffee and a movie. The coffee was at my new Ohmori apartment. Tomoko was so scared. It made me so very nervous. I quickly suggested we leave my apartment and walk to the movies. She was so relieved and so was I.
We saw Lethal Weapon and had a good time.
Our second date, at the Ueno Zoo. This was the day before I was leaving back to the US. As we walked around near the gorilla cages I made a quip that the gorilla looked like my roommate Bob and Tomoko bust out laughing. We started holding hands from there and made passionate love that night.
I returned to Los Angeles and got the surprise of my life. You see, right before I left on my trip to Japan I applied to the California Department of Rehabilitation to be vendorized so TVI could be paid for teaching the blind. I called almost everyday home and asked, "Did I get any mail?" And the answer was always no.
I got my stack of mail and postmarked August 17, 1989, the day I left for Japan was the approval for vendor status for TVI by the California Department of Rehabilitation. In an unopened envelope was a decision that, had I known, would have brought me home from Japan. By the time I opened it I was already emotionally living in Japan and not coming back.
Japan had to be mine.
I remember all that Lou Blanchard taught me, in particular to sell one that can sell many. I quickly joined the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.
My first ACCJ meeting was the Direct Marketing committee. I remember sitting next to a young Mark Fuoti and other now old timers in Tokyo. Bob Fox was the manager and we became friends over the years. The ACCJ has an interesting place in this story. That includes sex, cheating, spies, speeches, publishing, change, more speeches, websites, fair weather friends, and a Boeing executive who owned shares in my competitor without disclosing as he voted against me. Real class.
The sex part is fun for my staff. Cheating and Boeing breaks my heart. Spies? Hahahaha, Tokyo is the training ground for analysts. Speeches - 20+ and the publishing of ACCJ member directory on electronic book and website. More to follow!
Overall the ACCJ is ok. The new leaders are ok, but some of the old gaijin guard are still fucking cheaters. And I hope some readers can telloff Mr. Boeing for me too.
Wow, that is loud rock and roll baby.
In Shinjuku there is THE Rolling Stone Bar. Cramped in the basement is a rock palace with the loudest rock ever. I met life friend Bruce Fienberg there. We would regularly visit to blast our heads and forget everything.
Bruce looked at me and said, "You broke Japan."
I was aghast, embarrassed, smiling and completely appropriate for me.
At the New Year's celebrating the coming of 1990 I was at a Bruce's party in Takadanobaba. It took me a long time to be able to pronounce this city. At close to midnight our group of 20 or so wandered over to the local temple. The night was cold and I was wearing a dark suit, black trench coat and my cowboy boots.
The carnival like atmosphere was accented by the thud, thud, thud of the locals pounding rice into mochi. Mochi is a traditional sticky version of rice that kills several people a year in Japan from choking. Particularly the older folks. You learn to eat and chew in very small pieces.
The pounding takes place with a wood mallet into a carved out tree stump. A steaming lump of rice is thrown in and the rhythm of the mallet begins. A helper pulls the rice ball between strokes and turns it for the next hit. Like a well-oiled machine. Thump, turn, thump, turn, thump turn, etc. Each swing of the mallet gets the crowd riled up. Thump, ahahahhhhh, turn, thump, ahhhhhhh… Just mesmerizing.
I get handed the mallet. The crowds jumps to life, particularly our group. I start striking the rice like I'm spitting wood. What is louder than a thump? I was making that sound. The helper was all smiles at first. I hit, crowd roars, help grabs, sprinkles with water, turns and puts back and I hit again and again. My speed picks up and the helper can't grab any more. One…. Thump …….two …. Thump, no turn, no water, and three thumps! And rice ball stuck to the mallet and as I reached for the sky for my next hit the rice fell to the ground.
The whole crowd went silent. Then a middle aged construction punch perm local looked at me and swung his arm to the exit and said, "You! … You are out of here!"
And the crowd bust out laughing. One of Bruce's friends said I will have good luck for making everyone laugh for the first time this year.
I got all of that on video. I do hope that I can pull it from the tape, because it really was funny way to finish 1989.
I met a girl at Bruce's party that offered her apartment for rent in ShinKoiwa Tokyo. She was a TV producer who was going to be on location in Brazil for 6 months. It was a great opportunity to get my own place. Bob was getting tired of Tomoko and I having great sex all the time.
Ito-san gave me her key and said, "My next door neighbor is a gaijin and I hear he has a Harvard MBA."
Let the Games Begin folks. Jay Andrew Smith is who she is talking about. I could not wait to meet Jay and show him my Bikefinder business plan. I have always been a question asker and the seeker of mentors. I love knowledge and to learn paths to ideas in my head.
Meeting Jay quickly accelerated my business of selling US products in Japan.
I waited like a puppy dog to meet Jay. He was never there. I skipped going out, I left only to teach.
Finally I met Jay between the Shin Koiwa station and our apartment building. He was dressed in cold weather gear, hat, scarf, gloves, and the whole 9.
I stopped him and said, "Are you Jay? (I got a nod) I am your neighbor."
It took me two sentences to pitch Bikefinder and it immediately caught Jay's interest. Before I fast forward to the starting of our Internet business let me finish out 1990 as Jay's impact was quick and effective.
We sold together from that moment. Art, wine, fast cars, Falzetti umbrellas and more. We sold them to Itochu and Jay's friends from Harvard. We sold to distributors via my connections at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). We sold to Tokyu Hands by walking thru the front door. My landlord came back from Brazil. She had a key just showed up one night in the wee hours of the morning. I said hello and then said I would set out of futon for her. She asked if she could sleep with me and I said sure. It may have been a dream but it sure is fun to think about. I went back to bed and then got a nudge and whisper. She fucked my brains out. It was unexpected middle of the night fucking. Then, in the morning, hey, it's time for you to move out.
The next night I hung out with Mike Fink and Ken Darwin and a sweetheart friend Maryann. We had a blast of an evening downing lemon sours and munching on pizza. Maryann took me home and we also made love. It was a nice soft love with this half Japanese and black girl. Just so funny too. Her room was so girlie!
On Saturday I went to a big art show and conference just beyond the Tsukiji fish market. One of the key attractions was a friend of Mike Finks called Joe who owned a memorabilia and collectors shop. He had for sale "LA Woman" written by Jim Morrison of The Doors by hand on a yellow legal pad. I held this document for what seemed like hours. I was and still am a huge Doors fan. I will own this someday.
That night Joe, his assistant Kathy, a hot blond, went to Roppongi and the Lexington Queen. We partied hard. Real music was playing and we danced like wild animals. The place was packed and among my favorites of the dance clubs in town.
As it was time for me to train it home Kathy asked me to stay and offered her hotel room. Ok… do I have to spell it out? Yep. Got laid again. These random sexual conquests are good for a man's ego.
I knew Tomoko was coming in the morning to Shinkoiwa so I thanked Kathy and bolted at first light. I got home and showered and got into my futon.
When Tomoko came in I was so excited. The moment I saw her my face lit up, it still does the same thing today. My wife excites the heck out of me. This was especially true this morning.
As Tomoko entered the room the sunlight was bright into our east window and it cast right on her dress and made it see thru. It was simply the sexist thing I have ever seen. As she entered the futon she sweetly kissed me and asked me to make love to her.
I will be surprised if the above conquests actually make it to the printed book. I love my wife very much and do not want exploits written here to interrupt that. We were not married yet, but that is not an excuse.
Jay introduced me to Kazunobu Kamimura, an alumni from Jay's Rutgers University. Kaz's family home was available in Koganehara, Chiba. This would become my home until 1995 when we raised the first 4 million dollars for our Internet Company founded in this very special place.
The home was 30 minutes from Konganehara station on the Chiyoda line. It was an hour and half commute from home to work in Tokyo. The home was built by Kaz's father and now has two stories separated into two units. It had an amazing garden and koi pond that in later years I would enjoy to its fullest extent.
I moved into upstairs with a few roommate English teachers from Interac, Richard Venneri and Bill Brocato.
To say that we knew how to throw a party was an understatement. I got really good at it when at Loyola Marymount University. In fact our last party of my senior year was an epic blowout! The cops came and said, "Uh… we have gotten complaints about your music from more than 3 blocks away!"
Man, we were so proud. The champion LMU Lions basketball team with superstar Hank Gathers were all there.
In Japan house parties just did not happen. All parties happened inside bars and restaurants in the city. Not for us crazy gaijins and our big house in Chiba. All of our neighbors, old and young were always invited. We threw all sorts of parties, big ones, little ones, themes and of course BBQs. Always with our imported Weber grill.
One particular party stands out. It was an afternoon get together that was just a casual BBQ. I drank only a couple of beers all day as I was driving people back and forth to the train station. Basically I was biding my time to really start partying once everyone got there.
I drove one group to the station and on my way back I got pulled over by the police. I was in an old white Toyota station wagon that I bought for 50,000 yen. Pulled over is not correct, I got flagged over at an alcohol check point.
I pulled over and immediately got out of the car and walked to the cops. They started to yell at me in Japanese and it seems I kept hearing "baka gaijin" – stupid foreigner. I was very polite to the cops making sure not to piss them off in anyway. Except for getting out of the car, something that I would never do in the US.
They give me a breathalyzer test and I blew a 0.0025 – exactly the same as the legal limit for drunk driving. The cops looked at the results and wrote me a drunk driving ticket. And then the most surprising thing happened. They handed me my keys back and said have a nice day.
After giving me a drunk driving ticket they let me drive home. I was completely at a loss for words.
As I was an English teacher that had classes from 8 to 10am and 5pm to 7pm every evening in Tokyo. I had a lot of time on my hands.
I went to the DIET (seat of government) library in Kasumigaseki and found the free legal aide department. I first explained that I got a drunk driving ticket and I asked what the penalty I could expect is. They said you will lose your license for a day and pay a 50,000 yen fine. I then asked what happens if I fight the ticket and lose? They said the same thing, you will lose your license for a day and pay a 50,000 yen fine.
I did not know this at the time, but Japanese prosecutors have a 99% conviction rate. That number means forced confessions and lying cops.
I asked DIET legal aide for a case study about mechanical devices not being 100% accurate. My legal mind said that if I can find a case that says mechanical devices can't be considered 100% accurate then my case should be thrown out. The legal aide person's eyes lit up and he showed me a Cheshire cat grin. He disappeared to the library as I waited and took in the historic building I was in.
The clerk came back with a copy of a case that said exactly what I needed. I felt prepared to go fight this ticket. My thought was this is a great chance to learn the Japanese legal system as the fine was the same either way.
About 6 weeks after I got that drunk drive ticket I had to appear at the prosecutor's office at police headquarters in Matsudo city. I checked in and rode up in an elevator to the 5th floor, in the elevator was the two policemen and the court appointed translator. As I would find out later.
The prosecutor pushed hard to send my case to a judge for a ‘summary judgment'. This meant my case was simply going to be decided by a judge and that would be it.
I said, "I am very sorry, but this case is very important. I demand a jury trial." I argued my case and presented case law as my defense.
For two hours the prosecutor kept pushing me to a summary judgment and I steadfastly said, "Nope, I demand a jury trial."
The prosecutor's tone of voice got very angry. The cops were yelling while the translator slyly smiled. Finally the prosecutor threw me out of his office. I left the building feeling as I won this round.
My wife was not pleased. She did not like that I was fighting back when all Japanese never do. This blind obedience to authority is a great weakness in Japan. Only the hammer ignores the rules. Go figure.
Six weeks later I get summoned back to the prosecutor's office.
As I enter the elevator to go up to the 5th floor I notice the translator and I say hi.
The court appointed translator then said to me, "Mr. Bartz I have been translating for this court for over 20 years. This is the most fun I have ever had."
Imagine what was going through my mind when he said that. Wow.
This prosecutor's meeting was a complete déjà vu. If we had a script I swear each and every word, phrase and emotion was exactly the same as the first meeting. The results were the same, he pushed for summary judgment and I demanded a jury trial. When two hours were up, he angrily told me to leave.
Again, I felt a victory was at hand. I was really proud of this fight and my legal mind. I thought I was so cool.
Six weeks later I got a letter from the prosecutor saying my case had been dismissed. I won! I was beyond proud, dancing around like a peacock I called out for Tomoko with a gleeful tone.
I said, "Look! I won! I beat the drunk drive ticket," as I handed her the prosecutor's letter.
She looked at me and said, "Brad you did not win, you got pardoned by the new Emperor Akihito."
Yes, in November 1990 the new emperor of Japan Akihito pardoned me and 800,000 other Japanese stuck in the 99% prosecutor's success system. I wish our American presidents would do that at the beginning of their term. Pardon all non-violent prisoners.
At about that same time I stopped teaching English and got an amazing job selling British antique furniture from a converted warehouse outside of Ginza called Kensington. This place was a magical playground for a very rich samurai from Kyoto, Takeguchi-san. Kensington had a full British ballroom from the 1800s, a fully operating pub and millions in valuable antique furniture.
Japan's elite passed through these halls. The President of Suntory and Mr. Akimoto of Taisei Construction, the world's largest construction company. The ex-pats also frequented Kensington. My power base in Japan was built on British antiques.
Oh my god, my liver survived one-year at Kensington. I am really not sure how that happened. It is one of the most blurry years of my life.
Token Gaijin. In 1991 foreigners were still playthings for Japanese business executives. I did not understand that at first, but it became clear soon. Mr. Akimoto was the most prolific night crawler I ever met, now or since. And, Mr. Akimoto's night spots were the hostess clubs of the Ginza.
3 nights a week for almost a full year. It was incredible. It was amazing food and Japan's most beautiful girls. Akimoto-san was an "A #1" customer at all hostess clubs in town. His Taisei Construction expense account was unending. The bubble had ended, but they did not know it yet. He also left any club when it got busy.
"Brad, we are leaving so my mistress can seat more customers and make more money," explained Akimoto-san.
Then we would march to a new club and keep singing karaoke and chatting with girls.
My job for Kensington was to sell Akimoto on our firm designing and building a replica English village in the Japanese country side. Because of this, I gave one of the funniest speeches of my life about Victorian Architecture.
At one of the largest architectural firms a room of 40 Japanese folks and one gaijin were there to hear me talk about Victorian buildings. This gaijin could tell right away I did not know anything. But he did not understand that I am an excellent public speaker and once the microphone is mine I own the room.
I continued on my speech and he kept raising his hands to ask questions. I would never call on him. He kept getting redder and redder. Then the speech was over and he stormed from the room.
The Japanese in the room seemed to smile and many came up and said thanks for doing that. It seems that gaijin was a real prick and they loved that I riled him up. Then they gave an envelope with 10,000 yen, my first official paid speech!
1 year later the Kensington experience came to an end and I went freelance with my product sales and started an English editing practice.
Right before the end of Kensington the owner Mr. Takeguchi called an all hands meeting. With me was Timothy Conner, Wayne Shaw and other staff. Takeguchi wanted someone to fly to England and buy 2 tons of antique Cotswold Roofing tiles. We were building a mockup of Hiki House, an eighteenth century Victorian home we were commissioned to design and build. Takeguchi wanted to airlift the roof tiles to Tokyo. I said, "That is a bad idea. What a waste of money."
Then Takeguchi said, "Brad we are sending you."
I said, "Oh well that is a great idea."
Wayne and Timothy probably remember it differently, but I got to go to England to buy roofing tiles and amazing 20 foot tall stained glass windows from a majestic church being dismantled. We bought pews and some many great items. I felt guilty letting these historical pieces leave home and go to Japan.
I learned an interesting business lesson that was disguised as someone who could pull strings. It was at the dog racing track with a former professional football player. Basically he said, this dog in the 5th race will win. But, you can't just only bet on that, so bet a little here and there and have some fun. You can't lose in the 5th. The football player thought he was so cool, but as I analyzed it back then, what I saw was somebody that was a regular and knew each and every dog. It wasn't the black arts, it was simply the race tracks way of giving a gift to patrons.
Oh yea, Stonehenge is very cool.
After Kensington I got a funny gig working in Tamachi for a guy who wrote a book about how to learn English. His premise was to teach Japanese to re-write Japanese using English style. So, instead of O' Genki Desu ka? (Healthy Are You?) to Desu Genki ka? (Are you Healthy?). It was funny and he was my Japanese version of Mr. Magoo.
He also represented Black and Decker Military Arms Sales in Japan. At 24 years old I got invited to fly to Taiwan to be a negotiator between our firm and Black and Decker's president.
Frankly I have no idea why I was in that room. But, it delighted me to be at such a table with such powerful men at such a young age.
DATA MONO SHOBU and the red carpet ride.
Sometimes Japan surprises me even though I am quite used to unique situations. There really is much to write about so kick back and enjoy one of my very favorite experiences in Japan.
My roommate Richard Venneri introduced me to some great Washington state wines. Award winning cabs and merlot. Buttery and smooth Chardonnay.
I had just opened the door at Fujisankei Living's TV shopping show called Data Mono Shobu. The introduction came from a Japanese shopping catalog by JCB credit card company that featured my mom's art for sale.
The Fuji TV studios were hard to find. Back then I always gave myself extra time to navigate the Tokyo streets. Tokyo streets were designed to confuse attacking armies. Many streets dead end on purpose. Today the red dot shows you the path to the blue dot.
I walk into the hall and immediately notice a 500 person telemarketing room. My heart skipped a beat, especially because all the girls were chatting with each other or doing their nails.
I was glued to the window until my hosts dragged me away to the meeting room. They did a quick introduction and then stood up and said hey we have something to show you.
We walked past the telemarketing room again. And one more time I am flabbergasted that no work was happening. They guided me outside and across the street to a TV sound stage that was filming an infomercial for a fancy hair brush.
We watched for ten minutes and they motioned that is was time to go. No words exchanged while we walk back to the other building.
They all stop at the telemarketing window and chaos was happening inside. All operators were engaged with clients and the board was flashing numbers. The proud smiles of these executives showed that we went back to the meeting room.
I was hooked.
I pitched four items to sell on their Deta Mono Shobu TV shopping show. Falzetti patio umbrellas, Diane Bartz art, Washington wine and the Vector sports car. A very nice collection of hi-end products.
The sports car and wine got accepted. Super kid sold again.
To really push the wine I worked with Kent Nelson who was the director of the Washington state office of trade in Japan. This Mormon man was a delightful human being. He did not drink but was quite fine in promotion of wine. He immediately suggested that he can get funding from the US Department of Commerce for promoting US products.
We scored $25,000 dollars to help Fuji TV fly to Washington and film. The Data Mono Shobu sales strategy is to surround each product with a story. Entertainment selling. It was so much fun to learn this strategy.
Twin Peaks was really popular in Japan and ... one of our wineries was the Twin Peaks Winery. So, Fuji TV hired Hiroko Grace a drop dead gorgeous half Japanese talent. They wrapped her up in a plastic sheet and laid her on the rocks.
It was surreal to see this as we were big Twin Peaks fan at home. We would wait in line to be first to get first video from the store. They also had arcade games that would occupy our time and suck 100 yen coins.
The night of the Data Mono Shobu screening was exciting. Richard and I had a great party that night as we waited until the 2am tee time. We were drinking the wine we were selling. Enjoying the reds and whites and just lovin' it.
The next day we went to Fuji TV and were just so excited to find out what happened. We sold quite a bit, several hundred bottles and cases of wine, but … all of it was sweet wine. No cabs, merlots or chardonnays. The Japanese wine palette was simply not ready. The wine boom would happen many years later.
I have learned to write business plans and put them in storage and pull them out years later, blow the dust off of them and see if it is time yet.
I had been living in Japan about 1 and a half years at this point. I was in love and it was time for my parents to meet her parents. I was excited about them coming and started to arrange travel plans. Basically we would take the bullet train to Sendai and then change to trains that will get us to the other side of the country to Toyama prefecture.
I called Kent Nelson and asked if he knew anyone in Sendai that might be interested in our wines. As usual Kent quickly set up an introduction and a wine tasting at the Hotel Metropolitan Sendai.
As the son always tries to do, I set up a very nice trip to impress my folks and have a good time. After the arrival Narita we slug it home and they get a great treat in meeting my roommate from Texas Bill Brocato.
Somehow Bill was on a roll and the conversation about how getting a blow job from a guy is no different than one from a girl. Bill knew how to get me riled up and tonight was no different. My folks were beyond cool and showed no emotion to Bill. He was visibly disappointed that he could not shake them. That made me smile.
Luckily the next day we went to Kyoto for 4 days and stayed at a Japanese traditional ryokan in the "geisha" district. We loved this little place and the mama san was great and she was so funny when she said, "oh, oki desu neh!" (Oh you guys are so big…).
We did get to see many "Maiko" which are geisha in training. It was also so cool and a great treat for us. The fancy kimonos and white painted faces and perfect hair is Japan.
We visited some of the same secret temples that my host family sister and grandfather took me years before. The 1,200 year old temple, the most simple of them all, was awe inspiring. But it was the secret Japanese gardens that captivated us the most.
We stopped back at our Chiba home for the evening to pick up a couple cases of wine to bring to Sendai for the wine tasting. Luckily we had a hand cart to lug it around. I got my suit ready and packed the rest and we enjoyed a night on the town at our local pub.
Everyone was up early and ready to start the path north. I told my folks some of the stories written above and more about my love. We enjoyed the bullet train again. My dad, his dad and his grandpa were all train men. One of my prized possessions is a beautiful 23 jewel pocket watch from my grandpa which I was wearing that day.
We pulled into Sendai Bullet Train station and as we get off the train 2 smartly dressed Japanese are standing there waiting for us.
"Hi Mr. Bartz, we work for the president of the Hotel Metropolitan Sendai and he asked us to greet you and show you to our hotel."
Oh shit. I have been treated extremely well in Japan, but this starting moment spooked me. Spooked is not right, I was overwhelmed but very happy. My folks looked at me and were immediately impressed. I must be something important they told me they thought then.
We glide to the hotel and were greeted by the president. He greeted us formally and then handed my mom and I wrapped presents. We opened and inside were pearl inlaid green music boxes. They were beautiful and again wholly unexpected.
The president was pleased by our reaction and he then said, "Mr. Bartz we will have our wine tasting at 7pm in the grand room. I took the liberty of inviting the presidents of the largest hotels in Sendai to this event. I do hope that is ok."
This news brought a shocked feeling to my body, but my outward face showed delight. As we walked to our room I confided to my mom that I had no idea how to do a wine tasting. I was petrified.
Her comforting words were, "Brad a wine tasting is easy. Just drink some water and eat a little bread after a taste of each variety."
"Ok!!! Got it!" I exclaimed.
That evening the grand room was filled with the most presidents I had pitched too. The tasting went terrific. I faked my way thru the presentation and they bought 300 cases of wine.
The next day we were given a personal tour of Sendai and Matsushima by the 2 president's staff. Again, I am extraordinarily humbled by this treatment. We visited the famous temple in Sendai that belonged to the region's most powerful man many years ago in history. The staff explained that not just the Daimyo is buried here, but all of his servants were too. They killed themselves in ritual suicide after his death.
The limousine from the hotel was luxurious and swifted us to many locations. And most impressive was being delivered to dinner at a hotel that was more museum that anything I've ever seen. Grand statues and replicas of all the major historical works. It was gilded, smooth and well presented.
The trip with my folks concluded with meeting Tomoko, my love, and heading to her hometown. We had so much fun telling her about this very unique experience.
CHAPTER 4 - The Start of the Japanese Internet: Coffee Please
It was fall of 1990 and Bill Brocato, my roommate in Chiba, invited Jay and I to meet at the Royal Host restaurant in Harajuku, Tokyo. I would learn later that this was a favorite cafe of the Tokyo spy crowd and this particular table was bugged.
At the lunch was me, Jay, Bill, David Winchester and some other dude I choose to forget. We sat in a large booth at the back left of the restaurant. The faded tan seat cushions made a noise as I slid across them.
David Winchester was a large man, completely fluent in Japanese and balding.
He pulled out a laptop computer and turned on to its command prompt in bright green. He pulled out a dongle from his briefcase and plugged this security device into the serial port of his laptop. David typed the word "METAMORPH" in the command line and let it stay there.
David then pulled out a paperback book called Real World Intelligence written by Herb Meyer, a former CIA operative, as he pointed out. He explained that Metamorph is a natural language search and retrieval system that can search anything. In fact, David extorted, "Metamorph has single-source-justification from the US Government. This means that no other tech comes close."
David then pressed the button and the green screen lit up with character based menus and a search bar. He entered in this question, "Does David like Goliath?" As he explained that he had an electronic version of the bible on his laptop.
Metamorph gave back an instant answer. The thesaurus built into Metamorph dropped the word 'does' and morphed 'like' to many variations including 'hate' and brought back an answer.
That intuitive intelligence in search changed my life.
From that moment on I took the technology of Metamorph and created the first Internet Company in Japan with Jay Smith, his investor cousin Bruce Smith, and David Winchester.
Before we get to the World-Wide-Web, it is important to document the very beginnings of the internet person-to-person electronic communication in Japan.
David immediately made the introduction to Pete Perkins where we bought PC servers and the BBS software. Pete ran the first BBS in Japan. Pete's BBS was cool but was not adapted to the commercial internet for years after our efforts.
Our BBS started delivering international messages in summer of 1991 with our Japan America Society of Southern California BBS Server talking with our IAC-Online BBS in Tokyo every day.
The president of the Japan American Society in Southern California (JASSC) Mike Mansfield was cool. I told him my BBS idea and he simply said yes.
I asked if he needed permission. He said, "Nope, I can just apologize later."
The JASSC gave IAC-Online the credibility we needed to advance fast.
Quickly users from both countries started communicating with each other using email and chat. Right from the beginning offices with location in both countries were in direct contact.
Now with our BBS built and operating in California and Tokyo we ported the Metamorph software and users started searching text about Japan.
To expand the reach of our email services we got connected to the internet in Japan by the education institution that owned TWICS. TwoWay-Interactive-Communication was an internet access and newsfeed provider that operated without commercial intent.
Our efforts with the BBS quickly caught fire in Tokyo. New users signed up every day. Each new one would excite our team and motivate our programming. Our BBS chat rooms were very active. Some users had many accounts so they could join the conversation using different viewpoints.
Watching this activity as a SYSOP (system operator) was fascinating. The human behavior online was developing right before my eyes.
This year was highlighted by marriage and the birth of my son. A magical year of business, love and family. I really was having the time of my life. I was now fully working for myself and was independent. We had a great BBS and our reach into our market kept expanding. The creative process was unleashed and all focus was on experimenting with new internet tools and services.
I also received a huge honor from my host family grandfather. He gave me a plate that he made with the Japanese kanji for "Nintai" at his birthday party. Nintai means patience and tenacity. It seems my host family grandfather knew I was an entrepreneur and he gave this to me so I would never give up.
This Nintai plate is very special to me. You see my host family grandfather was an original investor in Kyocera. His experience with Japan's earliest and best entrepreneurs made his gift to me even more significant. Nintai is my favorite word and it should be the motto of any entrepreneur.
CHAPTER 5 - Rocket Cake and the Beer Slide
I asked my wife to marry me at a train station in Tokyo with Richard Venneri as my witness. I got to one knee and looked up at a surprised Tomoko and got a huge yes and a big hug and kiss.
Planning the wedding was all taken care of by Tomoko and her mom and sisters. It was hard to narrow down my list to just 50 people. We had my Yamagata host family, Dr. and Mrs. Masuda, my best friend and an incredible person, who would be our MC. Then my brothers Mike and Bill, mom and dad, Cousin Danny and Sean, Billy's best friend and a great guy. My Cousin Dave was living with me so he was also ring leader for our wedding. I had to skip Mike Fink which hurt because he is just so darn funny.
The week before the wedding the family came and it was hilarious. The first thing Billy did was say, "give me your car keys, we are going surfing." All of them brought surfboards. I handed him the keys and he asked which way is the ocean? I pointed west and they drove off with no map or any clue. They wound up at Chosei beach one of the famous surf spots and in the water met a Japanese surfer who brought them to his mom's Ryokan hotel to stay.
My bachelor party was epic. There was about 20 of us and as we gathered my best mate Stephen P. Simms handed out his business card to all my guests. Billy spoke up, "I got a P card!" Stephen's card was all in Japanese except a big ‘P' for his middle name. From that moment on everyone but Stephen used the P card as a train pass. Back then you just flashed it to the train ticket guys.
We walked into Gold disco and it was like Hollywood and the paparazzi. My dad looked just like Sean Connery and the girls just surrounded him. He had the biggest grin on his face. All night long the girls kept coming up and surround him. We rocked it until 2am and decided to go to Roppongi.
With 20 of us we could not get taxis so we walked from Tamachi to Roppongi. Along the way I notice a very bright vending machine down the road a couple of blocks. I said to myself, "no way man, beer machines close down at 11." As we got closer I got more excited and sure as shit that heaven of a beer machine was open for business.
We stopped walking and proceed to party until we emptied that machine. That was about when the sun was peaking its head and we then staggered our way to Roppongi and went to Gas Panic. It was epic and so much fun for the boys to get hot sake from the machine next to the now empty beer machine.
I have seen used girl's underwear for sale in vending machines in Japan. Now, that ought to leave a mark.
The party continued day in and day out with the Boys. It was only when we were walking from Koganehara station to home that Japan happened for my guests. A stroll through the local temple calmed Billy down so much it was like he got hypnotized.
"Brad, how old is this place." Billy asked.
"It's over 600 years old Bill." I answered and then glorious silence ensued.
By Friday I lost my voice. I had planned on singing Billy Joel's "don't go changing to try and please me…" But that was out now.
We got married in a wedding factory in the Ginza. This 8 floor building had restaurants, hotel, chapels, party rooms and dressing rooms. Lots of dressing rooms. Our priest was an Irish bloke who spoke Japanese with a thick cockney accent.
The reception is where the action was. First was my brothers handing out shots of whiskey to the now smiling Japanese guests. And the funny look on Billy's face when he thought the fish cake was ice cream.
Tomoko's professor from graduate school of chemistry at Keio University spoke and said, "This is a great loss for Japan."
Ooooh shit, did my mom get mad. As soon as she could she went over to him and told him off.
Then it was cake cutting time. The staff wheeled in a 7 layer 5 or 6 foot tall wedding cake. I was thinking to myself who the heck paid for this! It was just so big and beautiful. As we approach the cake they handed me a knife for the photo opp of cutting the first piece. My eyes adjusted and I realize the cake is plastic and they point to a pie shape section of soft silicon that we are to slip the knife into.
Tomoko and I kiss and hold the knife together and slice into this picture perfect cake. That cut triggers a dry ice waterfall falling off the cake.
My brother Bills blurts out, "Rocket Cake!" and the house broke into laughter.
After the wedding my mom and dad, Tomoko and I stayed at the wedding factory hotel. The rest of the crew went back to Chiba with Mr. Stephen P Simms leading the way.
At breakfast I commented to my dad, "Boy this ring is heavy."
He said, "Wait until the kids start tuggin at it."
Tomoko and I went to a fabulous honeymoon in Hakone and just had a great time.
When I got back cousin Dave showed me the most amazing video. I hope these words will do it justice.
The scene opened on the Chiyoda line train with the spot on Billy. He stared into the camera as he took off his white wedding tie and wrapped it like a bandana around his head and ripped off his shirt as he said, "it's time for a beer slide."
The camera panned to a nearly empty train and shows Sean pouring beer on the train floor. On the seats were Yumiko, Stephens wife and hiding behind a big newspaper was Mr. P.
He would later tell me, "Brad this is my train line, I ride it every day."
Then the camera quickly comes back to Billy as he picks up speed and throws his naked chest at the train floor. He slid so fast and when he got to the end of the train car pushed his hands and did a hop into the next car.
They did it again and again.
The Japanese on the train were classic and show no emotion at all, except for Yumiko who was grinning from ear to ear. It was simply the funniest thing I ever saw and I was so damn glad I was not there!
CHAPTER 6 - Natural Language Search & Retrieval
By the time Dr. William Boulton wrote the following case study about my business activities in Japan, Metamorph Natural Language Search & Retrieval already had epiphany impact on my life in 1992.
On December 12, 1992 my son was born in a small clinic in Chiba, Japan. It was a glorious day to be had. Two young parents excited as the water broke and we started our one-block walk to the Doctor's office. Back then the husband was not generally invited to the birthing chamber, but I was a gaijin and was not about to miss this.
The silence was something that I will never forget. The look on the old Japanese doctor's face and then my own feelings as I looked at my son born with a bi-lateral cleft palette. The Doctor bolted from the delivery room and spoke in haunting Japanese to my mother-in-law. I could hear enough Japanese to answer "give that baby to his mother." To the question ‘what should I do?' from the Doctor.
Bradley Tatsunari Bartz is now 21 and a tall loveable lunk!
His birth came just after I signed information distribution agreements with US Medical Information Supply to sell their products on our IAC Online BBS. My business partner there heard of my son's birth and gave me a floppy disk with 1,000 pages of English language medical journals about bi-lateral cleft palates.
This is where my career in Search and Retrieval intersected with my life and changed me forever.
I tore through the 1,000 pages of medical text with our Metamorph search engine. I quickly learned of methods used for surgeries and corrections. I brought my laptop computer into the first doctor / patient conference about my son. I quickly told the Doctor at Matsudo Hospital do not use the "Onizuka" method.
The Doctor was shocked. He studied under Professor Onizuka and he agreed with my judgment too. Bradley went on to have many surgeries with continued moments of lasting life impact on me and my family.
"I now present to you a business case study written by Keio University visiting professor Dr. William Boulton. I present mostly because my spoken words are captured by Dr. Boulton and I want you to read them.
Remember, what follows all happened in 1991 and 1992. "
METAMORPH case study I & II
(c)1992 by William R. Boulton. All rights reserved. This case was developed under the sponsorship of Keio University's Graduate School of Business Administration.
The sales of Metamorph text retrieval and correlation software had been slow in Japan. The global business information system (GBIS) had not sold well. It didn't help that the Japanese economy was in its worst recession in over a decade. Bradley Bartz, vice president of Trade Balance Inc.(TBI), and David Winchester, the Japan-based partner of Real-World Intelligence Inc. (RWI), established the Information Access Center (IAC) to provide the information-base necessary to get Metamorph sales off the ground. Bartz explained the impetus for the IAC:
The only way to show people what Metamorph can do is to have information that is related to them.
For example, when we first started to sell Metamorph, I had the full text of the bible on my computer, nearly 4,000 pages of text. I would ask questions like, "Who is god?" and "Does David like Goliath?" But people said, "So what?" Most people can't take the conceptual leap from working on general information to working on information in their own industry.
IAC was opened on September 14, 1992. David Winchester explained the relationship:
RWI has the technology and TBI is helping us get our finger on the pulse to find out what the clients want, and helping us determine how to package things, and then helping get the sales. Brad tries to communicate the applications of the software. So jointly, through the Center, we are developing applications for the Japanese market. We have the basic technology. TBI has the sales, marketing and contacts, and the network, here in Japan. By tying up, we are developing special applications for the Japanese market. That doesn't necessarily mean Japanese companies. Given our nationality, we have a good opportunity to work with foreign companies which are more advanced in information usage than Japanese companies. Thus, it is an easier sale.
The IAC was felt to be a significant move forward in selling Metamorph. Bartz explained:
One thing we strategized about was how to get information that would show off Metamorph. We gathered information about companies. One product we obtained was from Nikkei Telecom. We are dealers for information. We designed an on-line database which uses Metamorph as a front end.
If you subscribe to our information products, you get free on-line access. We don't charge people by the minute like Nikkei Telecom, Dial-on, Nexus or Lexus. They are very expensive and force you to keep looking at the clock. They also use Boulean logic which looks at narrow words. That forced you to develop a search strategy that would cut your search time and cost. We want to show them our tool, so once they pay for our data they can call in and down load our information.
That got us into digitized information, including the Japan Auto Abstracts, the Japan Finance Daily, plus information on Korea and Viet Nam. We are looking into economic data about China. By accident, IAC is one of the largest sources of English information about Japan. We did it to show off Metamorph. It allowed me to go into IBM, Ford, and GM with their information on my computer. It helped to sell the information. We have 5,000 pages of data about an industry. Using Metamorph, we could find information about their company or competitors in seconds. That was effective in showing the power of the tool, but still doesn't sell GBISs because the users aren't presidents of their company. While they couldn't buy the product, they learned about it.
The focus on GBIS is not how we sell our company. We understand and we can build these systems, but we start by selling our company first. We have become experts in developing on-line systems and are building systems for Compaq's dealer network. We run a show case to demonstrate Metamorph. We come in with information and tools to help customers use information. That includes developing systems around Compaq, HP, and maybe IBM Thinkpad hardware.
You can see how the company has developed. The first thing we had was the GBIS. The GBIS is a reporting system that uses Metamorph as an engine. We gather information, analyze it and produce a report for top management. We invited Herb Meyers and Michael Pincas to put on a seminar in Japan. They spoke at the Japan Institute for Office Automation. There were 80 attendees that paid $400 to attend each. Herb Meyers retired from the CIA. But there was very little response from follow-ups because we were a new partnership and didn't know how to follow up without one of these guys. People didn't want to talk to me about a $100,000 to $200,000 GBIS system.
According to Barton Richards, vice president of R&D at Expansion Programs International (EPI):
If you tell end users precisely what they can do with text retrieval, they always want it. The major problem has been that text, as viewed by MIS professionals, doesn't fit into rows and columns or the database methodologies they've always used. Given the inability of the larger-particularly MVS-based--computer platforms to deal with free-form streams of information, a lot of the potential of text retrieval has been slowed by the inherent corporate architecture.
Text Retrieval Competition
Clipping services were the basis for most competitive intelligence systems. They provided context, generated new leads and helped one piece disparate data into a coherent whole. Electronic clippings have the dual advantages of timeliness and an ASCII format, so one could export the data into spreadsheets, database managers and reports that provide the tools for analyzing intelligence.
This new text management system had been quietly sponsored by the Department of Defense and several other U.S. intelligence agencies since the late 1970s. EPI had used independent research and development (IR&D) funds to create Metamorph.
IR&D funds consisted of research projects that companies themselves initiated, funded, and managed in order to develop new technologies.
IR&D funds were distinct from government provided R&D funds which applied fairly rigid government specification.
The first people to buy Metamorph were the Japanese. According to Pincus, "When the product was first advertised, I could not keep the Japanese out of our office." One Japanese businessman arrived with a suitcase containing documents authorizing the transfer of a quarter of a million dollars in cash to EPI if the company would immediately give him the rights to a Japanese conversion of the product, along with the exportation of importation rights to Japan. Pincus continued:
We had to fend off some considerable attention from the Japanese while at the same time not being stupid and failing to sell the product...The Japanese are all over our society looking for opportunities in high-tech, particularly in artificial intelligence because of their own fifth-generation artificial intelligence group.
With only seven employees at EPI, Pincus was leery of allowing the Japanese and other foreign customers to procure his most sophisticated software programs, including a number of versions of Metamorph. He felt that his program could greatly benefit the US government. One of his less powerful versions ended up West Germany and then disappeared. Firms in Poland and Czechoslovakia tried to buy the product. At the conference on artificial intelligence and robotics in Japan in 1987, only the Soviet Union was willing to purchase Metamorph on the spot. EPI's representative in Japan was told not to make the sale.
Real-World Intelligence, Inc. (RWI)
Herbert Meyer, president of Real-World Intelligence in Washington, DC, is one of a handful of companies developing business intelligence systems for corporations. Meyer was a vice-chairman of the Central Intelligence Agency's U.S. National Intelligence Council during the Reagan administration. Meyer had teamed with the EPI to exclusively design and install business intelligence (BI) systems using a combination of Metamorph software and a variety of hardware to provide customized intelligence systems. David Winchester explained the relationships:
The technology was developed by and owned by Expansion Programs International. The chairman and owner of that company is now a principal of Real-World Intelligence of which I am a partner. So we are a part of what we call a "group of companies." RWI does applications development, but EPI manages the development of the technology and is the brains behind Metamorph.
Meyer's systems were based on the model outlined in his book, Real-World Intelligence. He was integrating the next generation of "what others call artificial intelligence software" with business intelligence models. He noted:
Today's business leaders need organized, correlated data to keep them up-to-date with the changing policies, economics, and technology that will influence their operations in existing and prospective markets. During the next decade, the company that can gather, analyze and properly distribute externally generated information will have a tremendous strategic advantage.
"Business intelligence is emerging as the ultimate competitive tool to help companies exploit such information to achieve their strategic objectives. This new emphasis on information generated from external sources is placing new demands on the IS organization.
Metamorph's authors, with backgrounds in linguistics, anthropology, human factors, and cognitive processes, had developed a retrieval and analytical tool kit for intelligence analysts who wanted to go beyond literate matching of words, names and phrases.
Typically, BI systems have at least six components, which include information about competitors, customers, suppliers, current markets, potential markets and political, economic, scientific and technological trends relevant to the company.
The software was designed in conjunction with NASA for accessing huge amounts of data from the military-industrial complex and had sole-source justification from the US government, meaning that government organizations didn't need a competing bid. Real-World Intelligence and Expansion Programs International were extremely well connected in that arena. They provided "CIA style" intelligence, using their methodology, for business. Meyer claimed to develop revolutionary new business intelligence systems using the information correlation software. He believed such software would change the way people received local, regional, national, and international news. According to Meyer:
The information that goes into these systems is culled from online wire services and other databases, magazine articles, annual reports and a variety of other sources. As the business intelligence system sops up information, analysts use text retrieval software to filter and sort it into such categories as competition, customers, politics, economics, technology and other categories relevant to the corporation. Later, the information is packaged into easily digestible bulletins and reports that are distributed--often daily--to decision makers.
After spending a lot of my own money trying to raise the money, I failed and had to go back to a shoestring operation. That is when I met Brad. I was trying to generate enough income to keep it going so I didn't have to go back to work for someone else. So we began to work together. Since then, I have become a full partner in the operation along with Mr. Pincus of EPI and Mr. Meyer of RWI. That is the threesome and Brad has picked up the torch. He is not officially a partner in the business but is well on his way. He is one of the principals of our operation here in Japan.
We now have a deal that is on the edge of closing. If it works it will change the whole game. One world-wide consulting firm that has all the resources and money needed to make this successful is on the edge of making a decision. It would allow us to do things that we never dreamed of before. Once we get a signature on the contract, we can start. We thought we were going to get it signed this summer, but it has been delayed.
The Information Access Center
The Information Access Center's initial products included Metamorph software and on-line information for Digitized Information's Daily Executive Reports and Dodwell Marketing Consultants' Japan Auto Abstracts. The Information Access Center's on-line system used Metamorph, a natural language software that allowed users to quickly and effectively search large amounts of unstructured text information by asking simple questions like, "Who is developing new applications for aluminum?" While Metamorph was marketed as a stand-alone text retrieval software, it could also be used as the engine for highly sophisticated global business intelligence systems (GBIS) that integrated a wide range of information and communication technologies. RWI had developed sophisticated GBIS applications. According to Winchester:
With a GBIS, our client can monitor far more external sources than by traditional means. The system automatically, efficiently collects data and aids the analyst in producing intelligence reports for management. Factors that can be monitored include customers, new products, distribution, competition, R&D activities, economics, regulation, taxes and politics. This information can be provided in the form of Head-up Alerts, Flash Reports, Business Opportunities and Business Assessment reports.
As a result, management becomes more aware and prepared, improving decision making that is affected by external factors, focusing on mission critical information, and providing more strategic capabilities. The GBIS can be installed on the customer premises, or can be operated via IAC's new service bureau.
As TBI's Japan representative, Bartz had begun working with Winchester in April, 1992, and decided to work more closely as the needs for developing the market became clearer:
We are targeting foreign capital companies that need information in English about the Japanese market. We call it actionable intelligence. You can feed management information automatically and they can take action on it. Trade Balance is involved in the sales and marketing in Japan and New York. RWI is involved in building business intelligence systems and also has ownership of the Metamorph software.
Because TBI is in sales and marketing here in Japan, I have to be on the front line. Dave develops the software, but I am trying to sell the client. Dave goes with me to visit about one in five clients. As a result of our experience, we decided to add an on-line data-base system. We have been able to put it on a super PC so it wasn't much investment. We found that we have to bring people in slowly even if the technology is wonderful. People don't know what to do with it if you don't give them enough information. Metamorph is like a blank slate. You can put anything into it, any ASCII data. So we have contracted with data bases so we can show the potential client how to use our software.
IAC's on-line information system uses Metamorph software as the front end. TBI contracted with boutique information providers, consulting firms that put out daily or weekly abstracts, for our data. We use Digitized Information's Electronic Industry Reports which is a daily service about the electronics and computer industry. It adds 20 to 30 abstracts per day, by 10:00 a.m. in the morning.
We have two and a half years of information, some 8000 or 9000 pages of text about the electronics industry. We have also contracted with Dodwell Marketing Consultants to use their Japan Auto Abstracts. That gives us 5000 pages of data on the automotive industry. I have most of it on my laptop. When I talk to a potential customer, like IBM, I have the information on my laptop.
But people are really impressed with IAC's on-line performance. Someone called the other day to ask what mainframe computer I was using. IBM was even impressed with its response when we showed it to them. While I have the laptop, when I am with a client I use the on-line system. It takes two seconds to get answers instead of four. I did a profile on one of my clients just using the company name. I found their subsidiaries, competition and products. I put this information in a file and then pulled it up in front of them.
Winchester was pleased with the synergy between his activities and those of Bartz.
I was trying to do this by myself while moonlighting to stay alive. I soon realized that I didn't have enough time to pursue contacts. I couldn't meet all the database people or the information providers. For example, Mr. Tsukioka has been working to develop this data base on the electronic industry for ten years. I met him ten years ago. He started by running this out of his house. It took Brad to meet him and find out how far he had come in setting up this new service. It was great I information in electronic form that was being distributed on E-mail. Brad was free to go out and meet these people while I was trying to earn a living, develop the technology and demonstrations, and look for strategic opportunities for joint ventures, tie-ups or funding. So we signed a contract with Mr. Tsukioka and put it on our system. Now electronics is in everything so whomever we talk to, it has something that relates to them. It can be electronic controllers for engines. You name it and it’s in there. Now we have data when we make a pitch to clients. We now have some very serious negotiations underway to build some systems for some foreign companies.
This was all evolutionary. There were no leaps anywhere. We didn't have any formula. It took long hours and hard work, getting a little success here and refining it. Trying again and making a little more progress. There haven't been any great leaps. It is like a garage rock and roll band trying to improve their song.
Winchester built the computer system from scratch, having assembled and sold computers to his friends in the past. It provided IAC with a lot of power and flexibility as he explained:
If we add a new application, we add a new CPU or server on the system. It costs us $10,000. If you have an IBM computer and want to add a disc drive, it costs $25,000. If we want to add a disc drive, we go down to Akihabara and buy one for $500 or $1000 and install it on the system to increase our storage capacity. We also beat the other on-line systems because we don't have to process the data. When we added the electronic industry data, it included 18 floppy discs. We had it online the next day. We added 3,500 pages of data into the database in one evening. It was there for everybody to use the next morning.
Our data base provider gives us an update each day and we have it uploaded and ready immediately. You never hear of daily updates. It may be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. I was telling our client today that American executives now have the opportunity to get the news before the Japanese do. While Japan is sleeping, their news services have come on-line electronically. People in the states are awake and can access these electronically and get an intelligence report before the Japanese have read the morning news. Most reports are ready at 10:00 p.m. for the next day. That is 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the States.
Developing the Japanese Market
Bartz had been in Japan for over three years and was convinced that Tokyo was the ideal place in which to market Metamorph. He explained:
Working within Tokyo, I have access to 5000 companies that have foreign capital affiliations within 30 minutes by train. You get on the telephone and you can get to the top people in the world's largest companies. I have called the presidents of Compaq and HewlettPackard. Theoretically, I couldn't do that in the States.
To me, that is exciting and why I decided Tokyo was the place to be. If I get hooked up with the branch office here and sell the expatriates, who get rotated back to headquarters, then in two years I can go to their headquarters. So we can use this market as an entree to the US or European headquarters. So far it has worked with a German company. We are feeding information back to the US organization from here. It is kind of a new concept of backwards marketing. We could probably make enough money by just selling to the branch offices in Japan, let alone going back to the States.
But sales had not come quickly. Winchester explained his experience:
It has been very hard getting into the Japanese market. We go with our hat in hand trying to find money. This year was especially tough because of the recession. We were very close to getting some very large clients. We thought we had Hitachi and then they said no, they were pulling in their horns. We have been trying to weather the recession, or weather the depression. We have now gone back to the foreign companies that better understand how to use our software.
The first problem is in getting people to understand the technology. It is difficult, especially when it is revolutionary. It requires a new way of thinking which is not easy for people to do. It is even more difficult for a corporation to do which is the worst example of an individual. Even for me, it took a year for me to understand the full capability of this software. It can be used as an electronic address book that can search for anything in there. You can work on the full text rather than having a relational data base. I got that.
You could show someone how to use it in one field in an hour. Then if they got interested, you could show them how to use the technology. I spent a lot of time writing the documentation and giving that to people. I found that they if they were reading it, they weren't getting it. It was too much written information and it wasn't working. Then I found that the demonstrations worked better, that people could get a much better idea of what it did. My demos were very rudimentary, like taking a week or months’ worth of news off the AP and then asking questions like, "Has there been a power struggle?" But people would say, "I'm not interested in that."
I then realized that you had to customize demos to be relevant to what the customer is doing. He can't make the logical leap from one example to what he needs. People are really poor at getting the picture. When you talk to an auto company, you have to have auto data and an auto application or they don't get it. As soon as they see information that they understand, it is like night and day.
Brad's meeting the information providers has provided a lot of synergy between us. I can now concentrate more on the technology and develop the applications. I have no formal training in computers, it is all self taught. I really understand the user's point of view because that is what I was. So when Brad comes back and talks to me, I understand instantly what he is saying and there is no resistance on my side to doing what he suggests. If that is what I must do to get a sale, then I do it. I mold what I am doing to make sure the client likes what he gets. I go on sales calls and answer technical questions. I listen with different ears than Brad does. If we get people that don't speak English, I can communicate in Japanese quite well.
To date, they had sold 22 clients in Japan. Winchester continued:
We added two last week. Brad has sold three copies of the software. It is slow. Since the beginning, we have sold about 50 copies. It started with a site license and five copies for $50,000. Now we sell a single copy for $8,000. It runs the full range of applications from message handling to patent searches. Most of the applications were developed by the clients themselves. They saw the software and liked it and developed their own systems. They are not as sophisticated as they could have been if we developed it for them, but they wanted to do it on their own.
We started marketing Global Business Information Systems (GBIS). We use Metamorph as a radar scanning device. You can look for obstacles and opportunities. You can take action early enough to avoid getting into trouble or before it really becomes costly. At this point we can't convince the Japanese that they need our system. Japan is starting with the information products, the software. We want to get their minds thinking about what it can do. There is the story about 0Mitsubishi having two floors of a building in New York that collects business intelligence. They consider themselves world class and we have nothing to offer them.
In the US, they have been in business longer and have fewer than 100 systems installed. The U.S. government is a client. In our current state, we are very much a consulting firm, so it is all hands on and very time consuming. My goal in the partnership is to develop packaged applications that will be contained in a box that will need a minimum amount of customizing for the client. Instead of selling tens, we can sell hundreds or thousands. Right now it is very time intensive.
Planning for the Future
Bartz worked to find new ways to sell Metamorph technology. His belief in the technology kept him searching for new alternatives for its application. Some of his efforts were described:
Most information comes through news, TV, customers, telecommunications, internal memos, mail, gray literature from conferences, Internet, etc. How do you know what is coming into the company? We want to filter all this information for companies before it comes into the company. That is a GBIS. All data is put into a central database and everyone has access to the data. In most companies, current sales data is not centralized. Financial data is more central. By the year 2000, 1 billion people are expected to access the Internet. The data is increasing 20% per month. This is more efficient than the Japanese approach to face-to-face communications.
The Foreign Correspondents Club in Japan is a very exclusive clubs. Japanese and Foreign press is represented. It is the whose who of international journalism. The communications department produces 400 copies of the document that explains some company event. They then deliver these to the Kisha clubs. The private Kisha clubs represent all of the specific Japanese interests. They also use fax to deliver these. Foreign journalists don't belong to any of the Kisha clubs except for the Tokyo Stock Exchange (of which there are only three foreign journalists allowed) and the Foreign Ministry. We are trying to eliminate this, what we call, Jurassic Press Network.
I am in discussion with Kyodo and Reuters news lines for taking their information and giving them a new market for their information. Reuters has about 200,000 terminals or workstations worldwide for online access to their information. While that is a wide audience, it is limited access and expense, costing between $1000 and $2000 per month depending on the information. The idea is to use Metamorph as a filter to the information. A GBIS uses UNIX for real-time searches. With DOS or Windows, you have to use a batch mode. We keep proposing systems to clients, and they keep saying no.
Our new company is called JPN, Japan Press Network. We want to deliver the on-line information. We want to eliminate the distribution system, by using Metamorph. Companies can use a modem to send their press release to JPN. Every communication department can send it directly to us. The companies are very positive, since it cost so much to get information to the Kisha clubs. Right now the Kisha clubs control the information and there are no foreign journalists. In the U.S., the companies control the information. It is sent out directly through a company called PR Newswire. It is a $50 million per year business and a proven concept.
By using on-line technology from IAC, we have created a depository with Metamorph on line. Journalists can call JPN directly.
The press release will then be distributed by JPN to journalists free of charge and to Bloomberg's 120,000 terminals of people interested in investor relations. This is another attempt to use Metamorph to make money. So we can deliver information to the press. We have put free work stations in the clubs. We also include e-mail and will attach to the internet. After we complete this, you can access 27 million people. The companies pay a fee for this service. It only took Toyota two months to sign a contract. That is very fast for Japan. The Foreign Correspondents Club fully supports this. This changes the direction of our company. We are waiting for Keidanren's Kisha Club to make a decision. They are very slow to make a decision, because they know that their decision will make or break our company.
Bartz had several pending proposals to build stand-alone, automated access, retrieval, correlation and information dissemination systems for branch offices of U.S. Fortune 500 companies in Tokyo. TBI's proposals would cost companies from 3.5 to 4 million yen. The Metamorph software sold for one million yen. Total hardware costs were only about five percent of the total cost. Information subscription fees were about half the cost, for which TBI got a 30 percent commission that were renewable annually.
If these proposals come through, we have about a fifty percent net cost to us and the rest is consulting and profit. If they came through, we can pay the telephone bill which is substantial. Fortunately, the telephone company has been very patient until now.
Bartz considered his current efforts as development expenses. He explained:
Much of what we are doing now is in preparation for future growth. If it does hit, we don't want to be blown out of the water. We want a support team and network to be able to handle business in the future. By working with the different information providers, we have a potential client base. For example, Dodwell Marketing Consultants has 1200 to 1500 clients that buy their services on a regular basis. I am getting them up and running on our technology and they will introduce our technology to their clients. The real market won't develop for years in Japan. In the US, the market appears ready to take off and we are poised to exploit that.
People realize they have to become competitive, that they have to cut costs. Companies can't afford to introduce the wrong product. If Chrysler makes another mistake, they will be dead. They have to get as much information as they can and make the right decisions. Everybody is feeling the same way. Competitive intelligence is really important now for survival.
As far as income goes, we are surviving. It is pretty lean. But if we close the deal with a major management consulting firm, that will be a major step in our evolution. We will all be all right for awhile. Once the deal is final, it will not become public for some time. A public announcement is probably a year away. It was initially supposed to close in March, then in May, then in August. Now I was told that we are maybe a week or two away from closing. So I am on pins and needles. This is two years of hard work in trying to make this happen. We are trying to raise half a million dollars to get the marketing going, and the government spent $20 million to define the length of a word. It seems unfair.
David Winchester had just recently returned from the United States, after visiting his partners in Real-World Intelligence. He brought back with him a new product called Metabook. This was a new application of Metamorph which tied the search and retrieval program directly to a specific text data base on a floppy disk. He was really excited:
Now we have a product that we can sell. For example, we can package data from our data services and sell it as a stand alone document that you can search. We might put together all of the data on one company, like IBM or Toyota, and offer it for sale. The potential is unlimited.
Within a week, Winchester had constructed a Metabook that included information about Metamorph and Metabook.
Bradley Bartz, vice president of Trade Balance Inc. (TBI), Winchester's marketing partner in Japan, was equally excited. He quickly began conceiving of new products that could be offered using the new application. Within a week, he had contacted several firms about developing Metabook-based products using the attached flier. Bartz explained:
We are in discussion with several U.S. industry associations to create Metabooks of their industry data, like Japan's automotive and electronics reports. They also have a large number of their own publications and news letters which would be ideal for Metabooks. They are extremely interested and have made communications with Washington DC headquarters for approval. They have over 3000 members each.
If we could sell these Metabooks for $50 each, we could begin to make some real m0oney. The cost of making a disc is very low and we have a friend that produces floppy discs. It could be a very profitable business if we could get the volume up.
Bartz had been in contact with TBI's president in New York about the Metabook opportunities. TBI's president was now approaching the major publishers in New York about converting books into digitized Metabooks. Bartz explained the potential:
Metabook software uses about 300,000 bits of memory on a 3.5 inch floppy disk. That gives us about one megabyte of space or 1000 pages of text. We can sell Metabooks by the space the texts use. New double density disks will increase the capacity, so we could put the Bible on one disk. Optical disks will eliminate the constraints of space. We can also sell advertisements in the Metabooks as well on a space basis. There are a lot of potential opportunities.
We now have Metabook. The question is, How do we make money? How do I make Metabook a brand image like Intel Inside? You need a strategy for communicating this to an audience. How do we get more publishers to use it?
""Publishers won’t spend money. You have to be creative and share risks. You go after advertisers. But how do you build image without spending money. Our contracts force customers to put Metabook on the label. This is no longer on-line, but needs packaging and doesn’t take advantage of the electronic highway.
Metabook is the ability to take 1,000 pages of text and put it on a floppy disc with the full power of Metamorph. Our customers for this service are publishers. We can’t go to a customer and ask for $50 per copy. We need a publisher with a distribution network. If the volume were high enough, $5.00 is feasible. The production costs are automated and fixed. The software and the information are variable costs. If you produce 100,000 discs at 250 yen each, that is all right. It depends on the value of the information. You are still selling a delivery tool. The price of the product depends on the information. Legal cases may be very expensive. News is cheap.
We launched Japan Times’ first electronic newspaper on floppy disc on October 7. One year from Metabook’s development, I closed this deal. But Japan Times is the most prestigious English language newspaper in Japan and they have a wide circulation of about 70,000. They sell their product in Japan and overseas with traders. Our market is the sale of this delivery tool to Japan Times. They have the rights to the product. We get a royalty and get a production fee. We control the authoring system for making the discs. I have been discussing this with Nihon Keizai newspaper, and it is now going to committee. Companies are not easy to work with.
We can put 1000 pages about any subject and build a Metabook for sell from $2.50 to $1,000, depending on the value of information. McKinsey doesn’t provide reports for under $400,000 to $500,000 because of their experience and cost. They provide a 500 page report on your industry. If you put that on a Metabook, you increase the power. We can provide the authoring tool for people to use in republishing their information.
"Metabook is like a child compared to Metamorph. But Metamorph is too difficult to sell it as a GBIS, because you have to retrain companies on the use of information. That will become a big market in the future, but we aren’t in the business of retraining companies. We intend to showcase the technology in as wide an audience as possible through Metabook. We can sell it at a lower price in a lot more applications. As companies use this technology, they will come up with a lot more ways to use it.
I have access to huge databases. Using Metamorph is very different than Boulean logic. It changes the way you look at information. We can’t be in the business of changing how you look at information. But by making Metabook so valuable, at $5.00 a copy, you can buy the product. For the Japan Times, the subscription is $430 for 24 discs over one year. This will give you 18 megabytes of data about Japan in one year. The market is broad and Japan Times markets it for us.
"Now that we have the tool, we need to find customers that can use it. We need the right information categories, like you find in a book store. We just need a large number of titles and sell them with flyers. We can become the primary seller of floppy disc based titles.
We also have a multimedia disc that uses Metamorph. We have text and animated graphics for advertising. One company paid us $40,000 to produce. Every subscriber to the magazine got a copy of that disc free to advertise their products. That is a new product. The real estate has a cost. Newspapers charge by space used and circulation. We have 1.44 megs or more if compressed. The Metabook engine took 20%, the text took 40%, and we had 40% left over for advertising. That magazine has three months of issues on it, with Metabook for searching, and advertising at the beginning and end of the search. With the Japan Times, the customer gets a new screen saver advertisement every three months. It has to be sexy or creative. Coca Cola has a guy kicking the can every few seconds. This is one attempt to make money at IAC. If I could send out 8,000 discs a week, this would be a good market for computer related advertising. "
"APPENDIX: METABOOK DEMONSTRATION "THE INFORMATION ACCESS CENTER
Sometimes a new technology becomes available that changes the way people look at information --METABOOK is one of those technologies!
What you are about to see and use is a powerful new technology tool for reading and searching text and other information. The product is called METABOOK.
A METABOOK is an intelligent electronic book format which can be linked to any ASCII text information. In this case, we have applied the METABOOK to our product information. A METABOOK can be created for any document, including:
The METABOOK demonstration can be run from the enclosed floppy disk, or installed on your hard disk and then run from the hard disk. If you chose to install the demo on your hard disk the directory C:\metabook will be created. Installation on your hard disk dramatically improves the speed of METABOOK.
There are many immediate benefits from using a METABOOK !
The METABOOK technology is ready for converting your information into electronic METABOOKs.
Enquire about the Information Access Center's joint development and licensing programs. We hope that you will enjoy the METABOOK demonstration! For additional information contact: The Information Access Center Mr. Mr. David W. Winchester "
METABOOK Marketing METABOOK Product Development
--- End Dr. Boulton's Case Study ---
The above case was taught at Keio University and the University of Georgia at Auburn. It was a great privilege and someday I hope to be able to read some of the student reports.
Ok readers, I know that was long, but I did snip quite a bit. What was left has many clues into the development of the first commercial internet company in Japan.
You can read the whole case study online -- go search for it!
CHAPTER 7 - IAC-Online - The Bulletin Board
A funny thing happened on the journey of selling search and retrieval software.
I cold called and could get appointments with anybody in Tokyo. I would prove this again and again ultimately selling something personally in every prefecture in Japan as well as every state in America over the phone.
At Chrysler Motors I pulled out my laptop and did the ‘Winchester', e.g. lit up the screen, typed Metamorph and then pitched the software before hitting enter.
Mr. Chrysler said, "What does the bible have to do with cars?"
I said, "Nothing, Metamorph can search anything, I am just showing an example."
Mr. Chrysler said no.
Remember when I told you I started editing English books in Japan? Well, my main client was Dodwell Marketing Consultants. Dodwell published 7 very famous business books about industries in Japan. Each volume updated every year with page counts from 250 to 1,000. These were reference library quality books.
Dodwell also published the Japan Auto Abstract, which translated the Japanese press for automotive news. They had 7 full time staff running this weekly in addition to me for some last minute editing.
I made Dodwell's president Ando an offer he could not refuse. I offered to buy his Japan Auto Abstracts for 20 % of revenue over the next three years. Otherwise, for no money down I bought my first business.
Jay, Dave and I quickly ported IAC-Online to be able to showcase and use the power of Metamorph. We added the Japan Auto Abstracts content and our online natural language search and retrieval system was born.
We changed Japan Auto Abstracts from a weekly to a daily and David did all the translations. Jay Edited and uploaded. I sold.
I got an appointment again with Mr. Chrysler. This time I was able to login to our BBS from his office show him Meteamorph searching the Japan Auto Abstracts. Queries like, "Does Toyota have new factories in Thailand".
Mr. Chrysler loved it! And he bought a subscription to Japan Auto Abstracts, but did not purchase Metamorph. No matter, I made a sale! Now we are sellers of information and in the media business.
Our IAC Online BBS community grew quickly. We opened BBS Chat and Datarooms for many community organizations and businesses. Including:
American Chamber of Commerce in Japan British Chamber of Commerce in Japan Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan EU Japan Centre Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan French Chamber of Commerce in Japan
We then gathered more English language information about Japan and stuffed into our online Metamorph search engine.
All got personally trained by me how to upload content to IAC-Online. All of the above usually had 20 staff in the room during these trainings. We were the bleeding edge. They learned our BBS phone number, how to setup the dialer and push the enter key. Newspapers ran on mainframe computers then. So the idea of a puny PC replacing them was blasphemy.
We published newsletters online:
Japan Auto Abstracts Digitized Information by Aki Tsukioka Japan Chemical Digest Japan Business Digest Japan this and that
We also published online: The Vietnam Investment Review ITAR-TASS – the first to publish online English information about Russia outside of Russia! Subscriptions to our news did make us money, but it was our online advertising sales that made us famous.
David introduced to Duane Dick (not his real name), a ‘retired' United States Air Force intelligence officer. Duane was slick half Japanese American who had a face and look that could make him fit into any crowd. Duane offered to work for us for free. He said he had used Metamorph as an intelligence officer and he really loved it.
At the time I just thought he was another geek that wanted to learn and I was always open to that. He could not sell anything but he did get me access to the US Military commissary to shop and I got to golf at great Army courses in Japan. As these incentives started to pile up I started to become more aware that this was a strange situation.
Mr. Dick would always remind us that he danced with Nancy Reagan when Ronald was sworn in as president. At a BBQ at his home on base, his wife was the highest ranking female officer in Japan and an acting general, he showed us his prized treasure.
Mr. Dick also added the Vietnam Investment Review and ITAR-TASS to our search engine. He also got us access to the US Embassy daily report in English about Japan and we put that online also.
Shortly after that the US Embassy installed a special stand-alone phone line and PC that was only used to access our IAC Online BBS. The information we had online was very important and very valuable.
We sold the first online advertisements as published in Advertising Age magazine in 1992. Coca-Cola was represented in katakana which allowed our ASCII art to look ok. Budweiser Japan became BUD-NET on our BBS. Compaq computer had a room, paid us and gave us dozens of free computers to expand our BBS. Users would log on and one of the advertisers ASCII art screens would greet them. Then they could continue on to search, message and free Internet email.
Budweiser traded us 50 cases a month for three summers for advertising on IAC Online BBS. I was Mr. Beer! Budweiser was drawn in by barter and grew to a major client for me. Bartering your way into big companies is a sound strategy.
We also took Metamorph to new levels with the offline Metabook. This amazing piece of code fit on a single 3.5" floppy disk with enough room for 1,000 pages of text.
One of our first Electronic Metabooks was for the American Chamber of Commerce magazine. Grey Daiko Advertising booked a full class of advertisers and we included 3 months of the magazine to be searchable. The ACCJ Metabook was mailed with the ACCJ Magazine to 3,000 expats in Tokyo.
A future electronic book had Netscape 1.0 web browser and this issue of the ACCJ magazine was all marked up in HTML and presented from the floppy disk!
The ACCJ Journal magazine Keying into Interactive Advertising June 1993 By John Parker
There it was stuck on the cover of the June 22, 1992 issue of Forbes.
Advertisers were buzzing and readers were wondering: What's this new disk called
"The Deciding Factor" - everyone who had bought that issue was pondering. And right now you're probably scratching your head trying to figure what that disk in this month's The ACCJ Journal is for, too.
Both disks introduce the power of interactive advertising – computerdriven ads that either move, present themselves, or let the user discover their contents—thus adding a new dimension to the advertising field.
Yes, that disk you're holding represents the future. Just insert it in your computer, load it onto your hard disk and test drive – you'll see what I mean.
Actually, the first floppy disk-based interactive ads (interads) were developed a decade ago by small, specialized ad agencies for the specific purpose of reaching the desktop computers of the heavyweight decision makers. Companies like Einstein and Sandom of New York and Amazing Media of San Anselmo, California were pioneers but the large ad agencies turned their collective noses up at the medium.
That is, until last summer when Ogilvy & Mather came out with "The Deciding Factor" for Forbes – a disk-based package of 20 or so astonishingly well-done interads that left advertisers and readers with their jaws on the floor.
The interad age had arrived and was announced by "The Deciding Factor." After viewing the disk's Jaguar ad, I was convinced that this was the future of advertising.
A new jag drives out on the screen and implores the viewer to choose not only the make but also to select design and finish, performance and safety features of each by simply pushing the appropriate keyboard key.
In other words, the viewer can request additional information from the advertisement – that's why it's called interactive. No simple magazine display ad can offer that kind of power, yet Forbes was offering the interad for the same price as their standard display ads.
Now the computer software system that gave birth to that sort of power is available in Tokyo, introduced in this issue of The ACCJ Journal by Paradigm/Information Access Center (IAC).
The core technology for IAC's METABOOK system is called "Metamorph," and was developed from NASA missile technology and other space-age know-how. Metamorph allows users to search through unstructured text with natural language commands such as "what companies in Japan make steel girders?"
METABOOK, on the other hand, allows users to string together exiting files and search them all using the same sort of commands.
"One of the primary advantages of this product is its advanced search and retrieval capabilities," said Bradley L. Bartz, an IAC partner based in Tokyo, so METABOOKS with specific infor/mation are niche market advertising vehicles that give advertisers more bang for their buck."
It is also true that electronic books with interactive indices have become the current publishing rage in the United States. In Japan, Sony Corporation started the electronic book boom in '90 by unveiling its "Data Diskman," which has already sold more than 150,000 units domestically and 180,000 internationally. "Demand for electronic books will explode in a few years, replacing 50% of all paper dictionaries, if software prices decline further," predicted Yoshiyasu Mori, manager of the New Media shop at Kinokuniya Co., (one of Japan's largest bookstore chains) in The Nikkei Weekly.
Electronic publishing is a reality and is developing rapidly. And where there are electronic books, there must be digital magazines. As a matter of fact, from the last year, Newsweek Interactive became playable on the Sony Diskman (and now on IBM computers), with four quarterly disks of Newsweek going for $100.
Now, in Japan, comes The ACCJ Journal in an electronic, searchable format.
Yes, that's what you have in this issue – the April-June issues of The ACCJ Journal on an IBM-formatted disk that you can load onto your hard disk and search anyway you like.
And according to IAC's Brad Bartz, a Macintosh version is coming out soon. Advertisers interested in taking advantage of this brand-new medium for the Japanese market should contact Vickie Paradise Green at Paradigm for details. Tel: 3460-8501.
John Parker is a free-lance writer based in Tokyo who contributes articles on business and education to a variety of international journals.
-------- END The ACCJ Journal article --------
We made a huge mistake. First, we decided to copy the 3,000 disks ourselves to save a buck. We worked on design up until the absolute deadline and then spent 3 days NONSTOP 24 hours a day copying floppy disks and putting labels on them. I promised myself that I would never self-copy again!
We also forgot to put in advertisement for the ACCJ Magazine publisher, Vicky Paradise Green. This would create a rift that has never been repaired. I was never given an opportunity to say sorry. But no matter, Jay the poet in later years would art direct a full page ad called "The Incension – the insightful decision." There was a limerick that went something like this:
Don't get stuck with your Victorian Internet Company. IAC offers a surfer's Paradise that makes our competitors Green with envy.
Very few in Tokyo got the joke. But, the ones that did heard an earful from Vicky Green.
IAC-Online opened many doors. Ok, actually I opened many doors by cold calling everyone. My team used to take the phone from me when I made too much work for them.
The Japan Times Metabook project was huge. Basically we published two weeks of Japan Times text into each Metabook on a floppy disk. The Japan Times ran full page ads promoting the book and then regular small ads. A fortune in value to IAC. I personally produced this product for many years until I would have the staff to take over.
I got to hang out with Ogasawara Jr. from the owning family of the Japan Times and a well-known playboy about town. Japan is one big bar and Ogasawara Jr. was good at it. 1993 was very busy for Jay and I. David stole from us and we forced him to leave the company. We moved to our first offices in Roppongi. We had just enough to hire a secretary, Ms. Kyoko Masuda. Our apartment office had a unit bath on no rooms. Basically 12 feet wide by 25 feet deep.
When David left he thought he had power over us. I will not be held hostage by anyone. Since I knew he was leaving I gathered copies of BBS and all of our work. I rebuilt the BBS from scratch on a brand new machine. I became a true tech that weekend. So now I was the tech god and the sales machine. I was non-stop busy.
I asked Kyoko to call NTT and get 8 phone lines installed and she said no.
She tried once and gave up. I then got really mad and took over the task.
I called the NTT English operator service and asked for her help as politely as I could. I needed her help to navigate the Japanese NTT to get what I needed. 8 phone lines to greatly increase the capacity of our IAC-Online BBS.
I explained that IAC-Online operates the most important online information service in Japan and that the US Embassy Tokyo is a customer. I demanded the eight lines be installed. The English operator did her job and expressed my gaijin flavor of aggressive communication to get what's needed.
I got the phone lines and taught Kyoko a very important lesson. Do not relent with government or bureaucracies until you get what you want.
Our BBS grew quickly then. By then end of 1993 we had 2,000 regular users. All of them using 1,200 baud to 9,600 baud modems. Merchant Marines would use ship-to-shore radios to connect. Hackers from around the world would knock-knock.
One day at home in Chiba working on the BBS online I saw hackers where they were not supposed to be. The ‘Axeman' and some other shit from Germany. We chatted for 45 minutes with me pleading not to hurt my little online system. The hackers told me I need to learn my lesson and I was a prize.
I typed, "A prize?"
Yep, once we zap you we will post our victory on the wrble list. I would come to learn this is the hacker world's version of a claim to fame virgins list.
They deleted everything.
I went in on the first train and swapped the 8 pronged octopus router system to our backup server and was back in business with no data loss. Except the hackers conversation of the night before.
I called NTT and asked that no incoming phone calls to our BBS lines from outside of Japan. We were still calling our California BBS to transfer data so that was no problem.
I hired a famous French hacker that lived in Tokyo. He was famous for hacking France's Minitel to display his private messages. Christophe proceed to then beat the shit out of my BBS. He then certified that I fixed the holes and was good to go. (Years later Christophe would get deported from Japan for hacking KDD to get free phone calls.)
All was quiet from hackers for a couple of weeks. Then our fax machine started spitting out paper. Roll after roll with nothing.
A hacker made a user account on our BBS and I again engage him in conversation. He explained that he figured out we were blocking international calls and that he was now routing from inside Japan, just to fuck with me. He could only gloat, because my BBS was hack proof for the time being.
Don Heckenberg, the Chairman of Caterpillar Japan called me. I met him and many high-level executives at ACCJ events. He said, "Brad, my staff are razzing me about not knowing how to use email. Can you teach me?"
I said, "Sure Don come on by our offices and I'd be happy to get you Internet ready."
By this time Information Access Center Inc. (IAC) was five people. Me, Jay Smith, Kyoko Masuda, Steve Carter and Chris Burdge in our small Roppongi office.
When Mr. Heckenberg came I was in my usual spot at the back of the office. I watch as this VIP climbed over boxes and then legs to reach my desk area. I relish this moment. We spent the afternoon together and I made him proficient. I would later teach the president of GM Motors Japan and many others. My internet virgin collection is vast. I am the one to open their minds to the internet the very first time.
Do you remember your first time online?
By 1994 IAC Online only had one foreign competitor that saw the huge internet opportunity with the introduction of the world-wide-web. That was Roger Boisvert the founder of Global Online (GOL).
I remember walking up Roppongi boulevard and meeting Roger in 1994. We stopped and talked for a bit and he said, "I knew you would understand the www." In reference to our expansion into full internet dial-up access services. That conversation gave me purpose and also established Roger and me as Tokyo's internet gods.
Roger and I would fight in public and laugh in private. We both knew and agreed that us fighting was good to keep people talking about us. It was modeled after the fights between Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner. I miss Roger and his tremendous success. He was shot and killed after getting lost on the streets of Los Angeles. Just stopping to ask directions and a speed addict shot him.
CHAPTER 8 - Nationwide Internet & The Act of Godzilla Clause
The president of Compaq computer called me and asked me to his office.
I was always so pleased to see my friend Vic Murai and dropped everything to immediately go. Their office tower was just east of Sophia University in the center of Tokyo. A tall black glass tower.
I'm writing about February 1994 now. The memories are getting brighter as I weave the story about me and the Internet in Japan. I continue to be shocked at all we did and accomplished.
The black glass of the tower gave way to the Compaq Tower lobby. This was one of my favorite places in Tokyo. I got to spend endless hours playing with the latest computers and pick out the ones I needed for BBS operations. The senior tech gloried me with stories of DEC computer and other remnants of the computer age. This stage of technology was between the reel-to-reel tapes of my radio station days and the coming laptops of then.
Murai's office was most of the top floor and reminded me of Richard Riordan's office on the 36th floor of the Grand Building in downtown LA; extreme executive comfort. The sitting area and couches were plush black leather and under the glass coffee table a stunning rug. I must admit being in this office felt a little bit better than the Lobby tech room!
Murai got to the point. "Brad I set up a meeting next Tuesday with President Tanaka of NTT PC Communications. I told him about your IAC Online BBS and his eyes lit up."
I took it all in, asked as many questions as Murai would allow and left. I would have hailed a taxi but I was broke. I had to see Jay and our team right away.
I made it back to the office and caught my breath.
I explained that NTT PC Communications was the internet division of NTT, the world's largest company at the time. NTT PC was setting up the infrastructure to provide dialup internet PPP services nationwide. Everyone's eyes lit up. Jay put his Harvard MBA to good use and together we created a 50/50 joint venture business model where NTT would build it and we would sell it. I wrote the contract in pen that night on the train ride home.
The day before the NTT meeting I typed up the contract, printed copies, and prepared my best suit and polished my cowboy boots.
The suit was tailor made by Ricky Sarani in Tokyo. He was the tailor to the stars. How I got to be a customer of Ricky's is a about a classic story as it gets.
My son Bradley Jr was going into the hospital for a week in December 1993 for sewing the roof of his mouth in his third major corrective surgery for his bi-lateral cleft palette.
My wife and Jr. stayed in Matsudo hospital. I was alone in the Koganehara home. Jay gave me the week off to deal with this.
So, I took all of my suits, shirts and ties to the liquor store down the street that would take laundry. The clerk gave me my receipt and come back mokuyobi (Thursday).
When I arrived on Thursday to the liquor store there was something off about the clerk. Her face was sad and stern, not the smile and greetings I was used to.
She then said to me, "??????????????? ??(Do you understand Japanese.)
I said a confident, "Hai! Yes"
Then she said, "???????????????????"
And I said, "I guess that don't speak Japanese."
We both struggled to communicate and I stood up straight and my face went blank when I said, "hai, wakumasu" (I Understand) I understood that the Laundromat burned down and all my suits burned down too.
The insurance paid and I went to Ricky Sarani's and had 4 beautiful suits and a bevy of shirts made. I was dressed snappy and felt as such.
Jay was so glad my old suits were gone! Jay and I decided to walk from our Roppongi office to Tamachi where NTT PC was. We talked about our BBS and this partnership that we are about to sign. We walked thru some groomed Japanese gardens and both of us obtained a certain level of Zen.
Jay asked, "Did you send them the contract?"
Yes I assured Jay and I told him I have printed versions ready to sign with me. This NTT PC office was all business. We would get to see the Ueno super center later. We were led into a very large conference room with at least 12 chairs per side and one at each end.
Jay and I sat in the middle with our backs to the windows. Jay was to my right.
Japanese business tradition says this is the correct location for guests. The hosts sit close to the door and if a samurai with a sword comes swinging in, they take the hit for the guests.
This simple Japanese tradition has much more meaning to me than most salespeople. Sure enough 12 NTT PC executives filed into the room. With President Tanaka sitting across from me and our contact Mr. Uehara in front of Jay.
The contract was really simple. NTT Builds, IAC Sells and Collects. We share 50/50% in the revenue. Mr. Tanaka spoke first. "Bartz-san we really like your agreement. It is simple and it is exactly we have agreed." I smiled and said, "thank you."
Mr. Tanaka continued, "But, we don't understand your 'Act of Godzilla' Clause."
Jay froze. His glare at me was priceless. He did not see my final version of the contract. He kicked me under the table, but I had my cowboy boots on in a precautionary step. I indeed wrote Godzilla into the Force Majeure clause of the contact right next to war and earthquakes. I wanted to make sure that they read it and of course my sense of humor was in full play.
I let the room stay silent. It was brilliant. I looked right and then I slowly turned left and back to look straight at President Tanaka again and I said, "Gentlemen ... we are in Tokyo!" as my arms reached wide from side to side. President Tanaka laughed out loud and picked up his pen and then signed our joint venture contract.
The Act of Godzilla clause stayed! Digging deep in the memory banks to bring forth the Wednesday afternoon of October 1994 walking the outside walls of Tokyo University (Todai). I was wearing brown corduroy pants, a clean & pressed white shirt, no-tie and a preppy style buttoned grey sweater that I once wore while visiting classes at Harvard University. I was 28 years old and just signed a 3 million dollar infrastructure deal with NTT to jointly operate a nation-wide Internet access business. I had a bounce in my step to say the least.
As I turned left into the walls of Todai I searched out professor Maruyama as the head of the Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC). Now that I had established myself as "Mr. Internet" in Tokyo I made the point of making a homage to JPNIC and meeting the "leader" of the whole of the Japanese Internet. I was on a mission.
When I made it to Maruyama's office I was greeted by a grumpy Mr. Maruyama. He was not at all pleased to have his day interrupted by a gaijin. Particularly this one.
I introduced my company, The Information Access Center, Inc. (IAC) and told him all about our IAC-Online Bulletin Board System (BBS). Our BBS was the largest of its kind serving foreigners in Japan with Internet email and other services. In fact our BBS sold advertising to Coca-Cola Japan and Budweiser back in 1992, which I can claim to be the first advertising sold online worldwide!
After I was done, I asked Mr. Maruyama to tell me about JPNIC. He explained that his job is to protect the Education purpose of the Internet. His voice got angry when he talked condescendingly towards Commercial use of the Internet. I kept my eyes straight and did not show emotion as best I could. Frankly I could not believe that the head of the Internet in Japan was anti-commerce. It spooked me.
When he was done he looked up after his speech and said, "so, why are you here, how can I help you?"
I perked right up. I told him again about IAC-Online and my desire to own and register the domain names "Japan.co.jp" and "JPN.co.jp".
He choked up. Looked at me in horror, tilted his head like a deer in headlights and said, and I am quoting here, "Why would you do that? You would get so much traffic."
For practically the first time in my life I was speechless. I did not protest and left. As I walked out of Todai, the walls of this historic and important university became a laughing stock to me. The place frickin' looked like a bad cartoon.
I quickly ignored this meeting and continued to walk to my destiny and back to my office.
We now have access to the Ueno NTT Internet node and we wasted no time setting up our servers and getting started. We negotiated a share exchange for services with Mike Alfant of Fusion Systems Japan. His king of tech, Rajiv Trehan, wrote the "radius server" login code that allowed us to sell access and passwords.
CHAPTER 9 - Brilliant Business Plans and Raising Millions
Jay and I started IAC with nothing. We grew it to a place where we made deals. A lot of deals. The news of our joint venture pissed off Roger Boisvert who was building his network in a bathroom stall. I friggin' leap frogged him with this move.
Both Roger and I had "spies" in each company. I would regularly get solicited and unsolicited reports about GOL and Roger's next moves.
Roger would tell me many years later that the same was true for him. Our last meeting was in 2004 at a coffee shop in Aoyama. Roger just got a new smile with $40,000 dollars of dental work. He just sold his company for 80 million dollars and was on top of the world. We smiled a lot that day and I am very lucky to have known Roger. Roger drove me. His MBA and intellect was a challenge and a pleasure.
1995 was a spectacular year. It started with the birth of my daughter Marie on January 26, 1995. The eyes and trepidation of her Brother's doctor was noticed. The relief in the birth of this perfect child was magical for all and Marie has been ever since. She is 19 now and a student at Berkeley.
I wrote a masterpiece. The business plan and model that flowed from my pen was to expand IAC Online by franchising and helping to operate more regional BBSs in Japan. Thereby expanding our advertising reach. Jay, as he told me back then, took my document and said, "I am going to drink a bottle of whisky. Really good whisky."
What Jay produced was elegant, clean, Harvard, and very effective.
We sent our business plan to Grahame Marsh at UBS. He became our "investment banker". What a funny, smart and funny man. Jay and I were now regulars in the board rooms around Tokyo. I guess it is like riding a bike, once you find your balance then that table never scares again.
BusinessWeek April 3, 1995
ASIA'S ON-RAMPS TO THE INFORMAITON SUPERHIGHWAY
By Larry Holyoke in Tokyo with bureau reports
Noriaki Takahashi, a 26-year-old worker in a Tokyo glass factory, doesn't even own a personal computer.
But on a recent Sunday night, he crowded into a small auditorium along with over 100 other Japanese youths at an IBM-sponsored "Internet Café."
While the crowd watched a fluffy Japanese pop singer named Reiko Chiba gush about her home page on the World Wide Web, Takahashi was pondering his own digital future:
"My friend tells me he knows a guy who sends his music as data through the Internet. That's got me interested."
Takahashi and others like him are helping launch Asia into cyberspace. Estimates of Japanese Internet users run up to 3 million, with another 2 million in the rest of Asia, including hundreds of students at China's technical schools, who can contact dissidents through "soc.culture.china."
Commercial access providers are springing up fast as well, with over 40 in Australia, 8 in Hong Kong and 5 in Korea. FREE PASS. No place is catching up faster than Japan. From a few dozen websites a year ago, there are now over 300. One of the best deals for heavy Internet users comes from PSI Japan, which launched a service last October offering 30 hours a month for $200 up front, plus a monthly fee of $100 (table). IBM Japan, meanwhile, charges $40 for up to 3 hours after $45 initiation fee.
Both IBM and PSI supply direct "PPP" access, which makes the subscriber's computer a temporary part of the Net. But the fastest such connections will run is 14,400 bits per second.
That can be a slow grind when bringing in graphics-heavy pages from the World Wide Web. For pure zip, the best bet is Global Online, the only provider now running at 28,800 bps.
First-time Net surfers just looking for an E-mail service can get online for free at Information Access Center Inc. When you log on, your screen fills with a bright red Coca-Cola Co. ad.
Coke pays for the Englishlanguage service, along with 11 other advertisers. One draw-back: The service doesn't handle Japanese.
IAC also sells direct PPP web access for $55 signup fee and $55 monthly charge for the first 10 hours. To make the Internet connection in Japan, some providers require a Japanese-language communications package. But there is reliable freeware in Japanese such as Wterm, which comes with many modems. And once you are online, providers will often give you software to navigate the Internet.
PSI, for example, passes out software including a Web browser and mail reader. Netscape Navigator in Japanese is free for downloading, although commercial users must eventually buy a license.
EASY ACCESS. Hong Kong's estimated 20,000 Net denizens get off cheaper than Japan's. Fees average $20 to $40 per month.
Few providers use their own leased lines, so prices then to vary with the time of day. Asia On-Line, for example, charges a flat 77 cents a minute, but the rate drops to 30 cents during off-peak hours.
Freeware in Chinese is still scarce, but Taipei-based SeedNet has put out a net-navigation package in Chinese called "Success," which costs around $50.
In Korea, the most popular commercial provider is DACOM, which charges 4 cents a minute, though heavy users may prefer I-Net, which charges a flat $50 per month. Users will need I-Yagi, a Koreanlanguage communications package.
From Japanese pop singers to Chinese dissidents, Asians are discovering that getting on the Net isn't much harder than buying their first PC. The Far East has never been so near.
------ End BusinessWeek Article ------
Ok, I just love this line: "No place is catching up faster than Japan. From a few dozen Web sites a year ago, there are now over 300," wrote James Holyoke – as printed April 3, 1995. I also like the Coca Cola as an advertiser is printed again.
The favorite season in Japan is the lovely weeks of the Cherry Blossoms and their gathering capabilities. This is the time of year you have a serious talk with your liver and ask for pre-forgiveness on what is about to happen. Drinkin!
Many events light up your evenings in early April. Tonight I am going to meet up with Mike Fink and continue a very serious and solemn ceremony, but before that I am going to a "hanami" office party just down the street. Jay is with me and we are dressed quite nice as Jacquie Freidman, a Tokyo Sales Landmark, insisted we come.
The hostess was beautiful and proud of her new "shared-office" business that is the honor of this party. Jacquie was hilarious as usual in her gab and working the room. Jay and I enjoyed the free beer and snacks as our BBS is still a passion business (read not making money.). I remember the office being on the 4th floor with a view of Cherry Trees and the happy revelers below.
Noriaki Takahashi, a 26-year-old worker in a Tokyo glass factory, doesn't even own a personal computer.
But on a recent Sunday night, he crowded into a small auditorium along with over 100 other Japanese youths at an IBM-sponsored "Internet Café."
While the crowd watched a fluffy Japanese pop singer named Reiko Chiba gush about her home page on the World Wide Web, Takahashi was pondering his own digital future: "My friend tells me he knows a guy who sends his music as data through the Internet. That's got me interested."
Takahashi and others like him are helping launch Asia into cyberspace. Estimates of Japanese Internet users run up to 3 million, with another 2 million in the rest of Asia, including hundreds of students at China's technical schools, who can contact dissidents through "soc.culture.china."
Commercial access providers are springing up fast as well, with over 40 in Australia, 8 in Hong Kong and 5 in Korea.
No place is catching up faster than Japan. From a few dozen websites a year ago, there are now over 300. One of the best deals for heavy Internet users comes from PSI Japan, which launched a service last October offering 30 hours a month for $200 up front, plus a monthly fee of $100 (table).
IBM Japan, meanwhile, charges $40 for up to 3 hours after $45 initiation fee. Both IBM and PSI supply direct "PPP" access, which makes the subscriber's computer a temporary part of the Net.
But the fastest such connections will run is 14,400 bits per second. That can be a slow grind when bringing in graphics-heavy pages from the World Wide Web.
For pure zip, the best bet is Global Online, the only provider now running at 28,800 bps.
First-time Net surfers just looking for an E-mail service can get online for free at Information Access Center Inc. When you log on, your screen fills with a bright red Coca-Cola Co. ad. Coke pays for the Englishlanguage service, along with 11 other advertisers. One draw-back: The service doesn't handle Japanese.
IAC also sells direct PPP web access for $55 signup fee and $55 monthly charge for the first 10 hours. To make the Internet connection in Japan, some providers require a Japanese-language communications package. But there is reliable freeware in Japanese such as Wterm, which comes with many modems. And once you are online, providers will often give you software to navigate the Internet.
PSI, for example, passes out software including a Web browser and mail reader. Netscape Navigator in Japanese is free for downloading, although commercial users must eventually buy a license.
EASY ACCESS. Hong Kong's estimated 20,000 Net denizens get off cheaper than Japan's. Fees average $20 to $40 per month. Few providers use their own leased lines, so prices then to vary with the time of day. Asia On-Line, for example, charges a flat 77 cents a minute, but the rate drops to 30 cents during off-peak hours. Freeware in Chinese is still scarce, but Taipei-based SeedNet has put out a net-navigation package in Chinese called "Success," which costs around $50.
In Korea, the most popular commercial provider is DACOM, which charges 4 cents a minute, though heavy users may prefer I-Net, which charges a flat $50 per month. Users will need I-Yagi, a Koreanlanguage communications package.
From Japanese pop singers to Chinese dissidents, Asians are discovering that getting on the Net isn't much harder than buying their first PC. The Far East has never been so near.
------ End BusinessWeek Article ------
Ok, I just love this line: "No place is catching up faster than Japan. From a few dozen Web sites a year ago, there are now over 300," wrote James Holyoke – as printed April 3, 1995. I also like the Coca Cola as an advertiser is printed again.
The favorite season in Japan is the lovely weeks of the Cherry Blossoms and their gathering capabilities. This is the time of year you have a serious talk with your liver and ask for pre-forgiveness on what is about to happen. Drinkin!
Many events light up your evenings in early April. Tonight I am going to meet up with Mike Fink and continue a very serious and solemn ceremony, but before that I am going to a "hanami" office party just down the street. Jay is with me and we are dressed quite nice as Jacquie Freidman, a Tokyo Sales Landmark, insisted we come. The hostess was beautiful and proud of her new "shared-office" business that is the honor of this party. Jacquie was hilarious as usual in her gab and working the room. Jay and I enjoyed the free beer and snacks as our BBS is still a passion business (read not making money.). I remember the office being on the 4th floor with a view of Cherry Trees and the happy revelers below.
"Brad, I want you to meet somebody," said the hostess as she grabbed my hand and walked me across the room.
The line of sight was clear and in front of me was James Bond.
The hostess stopped and exchanged hugs. "Brad, this is Campbell Gunn. Campbell is an investment banker," she stated and continued with, "Campbell, this is Brad Bartz, president of a local internet company."
Campbell parried first, "Hi Brad, it is nice to meet you."
I shot back with, "Hi Campbell, it's nice to meet you too. Would you like to buy shares in my company?"
"Yes," said Campbell in matter of fact tone. We clinked our glasses said cheers, laughter and then I said, "It was nice to meet you and left."
Once I got outside with Jay I just laughed out loud as I told him what happened. I then promptly forgot about it.
Jay went to another party and I rambled to hook up with Mike Fink. The evening cleared to bright stars and the streets were plumb full of party people walking along the river and finding their tarps under the Cherry Trees.
From the front of the party building I turned right and walked up towards Ichigaya to get Mike.
We quickly drank a couple of beers at his office and left walking past many key Tokyo landmarks.
Ones that tell such a varied history and celebrate the creativity of cultures.
The walk leads us to our destination, the Aoyama Cemetery. The Aoyama Cemetery is the #1 spot in Tokyo for Cherry Tree drinking parties.
The tombstone lined boulevards are shadowed by giant puff clouds of old-guard cherry trees.
Mike and I are the only foreigners we see all night. We know our path and make it the Gaijin section of the Aoyama Cemetery.
We comment to each other that we must have started a tradition because every year since we began it, it has grown.
Just the previous year we had beer. Lots of it. But damnit! We were hungry.
I pulled out my cell phone and called 104 for directory assistance.
"moshi moshi ….. aaahhh Dominos Pizza in Aoyama kudasai," I said in very broken Japanese.
I got the number and Mike was shaking his head and saying no fucking way… no fucking way. His Japanese is perfect, but I am on my own for this one.
I called Dominos and ordered my favorite deluxe pizza and some CocaCola. When the Dominos rep asked for my address I said, "Gajin Bochi, Aoyoama" -- In the foreign section of the Aoyama Cemetery."
"Hai, wakaramasu! Atode, san-juu pun gorai, arigatou," and the Dominos guy hung up and I gave Mike the thumbs up!
He laughed so hard he fell over and then kept laughing. I handed him a beer while he was still on his back and did the same.
Then we saw it. In the far distance an image of freedom with his right hand held high with a bright red pizza box was our Dominos guy!
Mike pulled out his wallet, protested and said, "Dude! I'll get this!" And therefore now and henceforth we claim the pizza of delight in the city of death. That year we saw Dominos guys handing out menus to other partiers! When I say we started a movement I mean it! About two weeks later Grahame Marsh from UBS called me. He said, "Hey Brad, remember that guy you met a couple weeks ago, Campbell Gunn?" I said, "Yes."
"Well, he was telling the truth, he does want to invest in your company. He did his research and you came up as Mr. Internet. He laughed like hell when he told me that you asked him to buy shares point blank."
I don't exactly remember what deal I made with Jacquie Freidman, but somehow she was closing her 25 years of selling advertising in Tokyo and asked me to take over her operation. Part of the deal was that she would pay for the key money needed to rent a new big office in Tokyo.
And all of Jacquie's clients would become mine. She also furnished the office.
Myself, Jay, Steve, Kyoko and Chris moved up the street to our new Roppongi Headquarters that had a view of the IBM building next door.
I found myself with a new solid oak executive desk and great chair. Just in time to greet and invite Campbell Gunn to our new offices to discuss terms of his investment.
This was nowhere near the old office the scramble by guests like Caterpillar executives. It just felt good. Our business plan was seeking 327 million yen.
Campbell immediately agreed to the amount and then laid out two share offerings to complete the transaction. A 15% round and then a 7% round for our requested amount.
We hired the corporate and employee professionals to get all of our paperwork in order and gleefully waited for Morgan Stanley to transfer the cash.
A lot of activity was going on leading up to Campbell Gunn and his investment into my company.
One of my favorites was called "Let's Internet" and it was a website on a hard disk that was copied to 300,000 IBM Aptiva computers from 1993 to 1996. This was the very first advertising burned into a computer manufacture's hard disk.
You can thank me for all the bloatware that is now on your new computers. But, take a look at what we did.
Let's Internet was a 5 megabyte website that featured Netscape 1.0, great sponsors like Budweiser, Astel, Polaroid, Asahi Newspaper and more. This website did not need to be connected to the internet, just like our website on a floppy disk products.
IAC was selling internet access dial-up services.
This was not the first time that our advertising and marketing made a profit.
In fact, being on the cutting edge through all of my venture business makes my audience very interesting. This relationship and execution with IBM became a lifelong business model that I called "Media Driven Distribution Systems."
I think you will start to see MDDS patterns in this text and stories. A great TV Commercial of my youth showed a leather chair at the end of a very long room and as it panned to the other side of the room was a very larger stereo speaker.
The camera angle was then a long pull back of the now thumping with music speaker.
We get back to that solitary leather chair now filled with a man with a frozen look on this face and his hair completley blown back. TDK.
As I entered the Hammamatsu HQ of IBM my mind immediately went to that commercial. The long entryway indeed had a lone leather chair at the end of its hall.
Chris Burdge and I were shown into a great room with 4 leather chairs, 2 opposite the others with no coffee table in between.
My mind kept looking for the giant speaker to turn on.
Chris to the left of me and I was across from Shinya Touda and Shimizu-san of IBM. I had met Mr. Touda many times.
He was a R&D guy at IBM and as a lifelong employee enjoyed an eclectic day-to-day activity list. He was short, brilliant and a Todai (Tokyo University) graduate.
I was introduced to Shinya by the head of media relations for IBM.
This man published a fake Japan Times newspaper every April fool's day, printed 1,000 copies and delivered them to expat mailboxes for years!
That was IBM. Genius. The leather chairs in this great room were white.
I started my explanation of the Internet and our Let's Internet program. The words flowed from me in an almost super natural state. The Audience of Touda and Shimizu were in rapture, their cultural encouragement of the westerner to tell his secrets.
Although the conversation was two way and very engaging, the non-verbal and verbal communication jarring, my body started to float.
I experienced an out-of-body sales experience. I was watching myself sell. And almost like a clock, at a celebrated moment I softly landed on the chair as all three looked at me and said, "Let's Internet!"
As I walked from the leather thrones through the great hall my reflection was seen in the polished glass.
My hair was indeed blown back as if I had been flying. Chris Burdge, a man who's face never showed emotion, grabbed my shoulder and shuddered, "Brad … you were floating… I've never seen anything like it."
I was on a different sales plane.
My listening skills brought me into the minds of my subjects. Their words, tempos, smiles and mannerisms became mine. Lou did teach me many uncanny tools to unlock the target's subconscious.
All of these tools were deployed that day at IBM. But, I can tell my story the way my fingers type and know I have not yet told you why or how I reached the plane of flight I claim in this sales call. Someday. That meeting was long before Hans Tiedemann's money arrived.
It led to my Second use of the Act of Godzilla clause in a very important contract. This time though, IBM took it out.
Our relationship with IBM grew rapidly and ooops, we got Mr. Touda in trouble.
Having Budweiser advertising on the IBM Desktop computer sent waves of horror through corporate IBM.
But, Touda-san was proud that he got his Todai Alumni Club into our Let's Internet website and 300,000 Aptiva computers! This biggest lesson I learned in business partially came from this exceptional IBM deal.
Time. As an entrepreneur time is not a precept or a concept, it simply does not exist during the pure creative state. Time has to learned to be expressed as it is, time.
For example. With the IBM Let's Internet deal we designed our 5mb website to burned into the ‘gold' master for the Aptiva brand computer.
The burn had a deadline, which, of course, we meet.
This is where is gets weird.
In parallel to the software production for the burn, we had numerous other activities that took place to insure we could deliver. We had to deliver service if the IBM Aptiva bundle works. So we pushed NTT PC hard to give us 5,000 new passwords as a bank to sell for the IBM project. Push is not the right word, railroad is more is more like it. As always, I get what I demand, but at a sacrifice of key karma points. Project ramping and delivery always gives way to waiting for the results.
I did not ask IBM good questions. I simply did not understand that the harddisk burn date was 18 months before the Aptiva computer would be in the hands of a Japanese consumer. 18 hard-long, back-peddling months. The valuable lesson learned is the firm grasp of ‘time' of all activities that fill a funnel to its final result of revenue. This insight capability became an obsession as some Japanese venturemen started claiming 300 year business plans.
I felt a wave of knowledge grab me during the IBM wait. Now I see the project start point and can in detail describe the flow after the project's big bang of a start.
I see far now. 300 years? Not yet, but that is my goal.
I coined this phrase, "RFL – Revenue for Life." Everyone in the office would repeat RFL and smile.
I have adjusted this to be RFE – Revenue for Eternity. This complies with my Law of Internet Eternity which states if you sell once on the internet you will sell again.
My mission is to endow my artist's mom website gallery so it can be hosted and be able to make money forever.
The wonderful thing about writing this book is all of the pleasant memories I have of this period. Just this evening, 9/13/14 I was at a Japan America Society of Southern California Friendship event at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Two attendees trigger a flood of memories that I think you are really going to enjoy. As the former Ambassador to the US, Mr. Ichiro Fujisaki, is speaking, he mentioned a name that made my ears peak and a big smile blooms across my face.
Mr. William Farrell was the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan at the time I started our Internet adventure. After the Ambassador's remarks I sauntered over to Mr. Farrell. He did not recognize me some 20+ years later, but when I mentioned my name his pupils dilated to the full black as coal look. It was pretty cool.
Then a huge grin and handshake followed. Mr. Farrell was always the coolest to me and our firm.
He really was involved and deeply a part of the approvals needed to start our internet practice in Japan. The other memory jogger was meeting Mr. Tetsuro Kato, he is a venture capital philanthropist who used to work for Joichi Ito.
Ito came on the Internet scene in 1995ish and became a god. I loved watching his Digital Garage and its creative juices flowing.
From April 1995 to September 1995 we all were in a very strange place.
We made the deal with the Tiedemann Group to invest 327 million yen for 22% equity of our Information Access Center Inc. business.
I think we did normal things that funded ventures would do. Things like call mom! And start looking for new places to live, finally being able to afford to live inside Tokyo. The 1.5 hour each-way commute to the office was almost over.
The procedural steps to go from a US corporation to a Japanese KK was interesting to learn. The key component is the massive amount of paper trail created so that we would not be taxed as income for the investment.
The first step made me a millionaire on paper for just a few minutes.
Back in 1995 Japan in order to start a Kabushiki Kaisha (corporation) you needed to have 10,000,000 yen (~$100,000 USD) in paid-in capital.
This is a huge barrier to entry for venture business and entrepreneurs. Just one of many of the Japanese old-guard protecting their markets from newcomers, Japanese or foreign.
To setup a "business" bank account in Japan we learned the secret. Japanese bank books could only handle 23 characters. So you set up a private individual account with your company name and your name as the account name. Ours was "The Information Access Center Incorporated no Bradley Bartz".
This means when clients remitted funds to our bank or gave us checks they would only need to write "The Information Access Center" and we could get paid. The Tiedemann Group put 100,000,000 yen in my personal bank account to start their investment.
I would then pay Morgan Stanley to set up our Japanese corporation which acquired all the assets from our Inc into the new KK structure.
Of course once the million dollars hit my bank account the whole team broke out the Champagne and drank from glasses that I still have.
CHAPTER 10 - Coca-Cola Japan, Budweiser and Our Sales Machine
Ok, wow, now the real fun begins. We went from $40,000 a year in sales to $2.97 million dollars in sales in the first year after funding.
It was a spectacular sales effort and we were firing on all cylinders.
By the time of funding we were already internet gods in Tokyo.
Our footprint was everywhere and our ideas were cutting edge. Forget Silicon Valley, Tokyo was the birth of the Internet.
For many years I thought I missed the chance by not being in Silicon Valley, but I know that the work we were doing and that of our very talented competitors was incredible.
The BBS was full of advertisers by the time the Tiedemann investment came in. We had Budweiser Japan, Coca-Cola Japan, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Time Magazine and most of the foreign chambers of commercial interests in Japan.
Starting in the summer of 1993 we made a deal with Budweiser Japan to trade 50 cases a beer a month in exchange for advertising on our BBS. (I guess I now can remember how I started to get fat in Japan!) So in 1993, 94 and 95 we got 50 cases a beer in the summer months. Each month. We would give away cases of beers to business partners.
Only Toshiba sent back the beer, otherwise everyone was so happy to get the beer. As soon as we got funded I pitched Kerry Guilliams at Budweiser Japan on building their first website. I mean the first website for Budweiser anywhere on the planet.
We came up with a brilliant idea! We pitched to make a 9-hole golf game with shockwave design using the nine letters of B-U-D-W-E-I-S-E-R.
I hope I can find the pictures of this game because it was very cool.
It took a year to get the approval, but Budweiser Japan skipped Hakuhoto Advertising agency and gave IAC a 50,000,000 yen contract for building their website and this golf game.
I remember the night Kerry from Budweiser Japan gave me the yes. He took me to dinner in Roppongi at a very famous yakitori restaurant.
“Brad, this is where John Bulushi discovered his cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger routine,” laughed out loud Kerry.
The horseshoe shaped dining counter was filled in the center by three yukata wearing Japanese ‘cooks’.
They would yell every time an order was placed or the food was ready. Each samurai cook had a long paddle that they would load with goodies and reach to the guests.
The booze flowed and like Kerry said it was easy to see John Bulushi screaming cheeseburger in the same style as our samurai cooks.
Kerry then gave me the big news and I was on cloud nine. My instincts to trade for beer in the early BBS days proved correct. It really was the only way to get such a big account to pay attention to a new internet company. As with all business, we had a lot of sales activities going on. Budweiser was not the only hi-profile target.
Coca-Cola Japan was the biggest advertiser on the planet at the time. This was the prize to be had.
As with Bud we already had a relationship with Coca-Cola Japan.
It was a very low level relationship as that was all that was needed for the BBS.
The website was a whole new game. I cold called Vice President of Coca-Cola Japan at 7:45 in the morning. Steve answered the phone directly to my very pleasant surprise.
I pitched and he said I will give you 5 minutes tomorrow morning at 9am.
Oh, the anticipation of the meeting was all consuming.
It always is a wow moment when a cold call hits the mark.
I called an all hands on deck meeting and we spent the rest of the day getting me ready for this sales call. Epic. I think that was the keyword of the presentation.
I went to meet the VP of Coca-Cola Japan with Chris Burdge on our team. As usual if I am in the room it is my meeting. This was especially true as I made the cold-call.
We told Steve all about the world wide web, our BBS history with Coca-Cola Japan and our team. He liked what he heard and gave us an hour to present to his management team in two weeks.
The brainstorming sessions our team had for this and all clients was always intense and fun.
We worked nonstop for these 14 days getting ready for the sales meeting of our careers.
This is in November 1995. As we walked into Coca-Cola Japan’s Headquarters on Roppongi Boulevard I notice the room is a big circle and the pretty receptionist is in another circle at the center of the room. Her eyes just burst in size as our entourage entered the room.
Like everything I do in sales calls, our entrance is deliberate and grand.
First in the door was Jenifer Webster and Daneeta Saft dressed in Bikinis, carrying beach towels, sunglasses and smiles.
Then two gigantic beach boys walk in carrying a 10 foot balsa wood surfboard that we had custom made for our newly opened Internet Surf Shop.
The boys were in tank tops, shorts, sandals and sunglasses. Then Chris Burdge and I walk in our tailor made dark blue suits, crisp white shirts with cufflinks and power red ties.
It always takes a few minutes for Japanese staff to adjust to unexpected situations. But, this was not the case at Coca-Cola Japan.
She just simply smiled and said, “Mr. Bartz, we have been expecting you, please go to the fourth floor board room.” With that we headed to the elevators and Billy, my brother, maker of the surfboard and one of the beach boys said, “Shit, this won’t fit in the elevator.” We all kinda of chuckled when we heard this groan. They had to carry the board from our Roppongi offices 2 miles away already. I pointed to the stairs as the rest of the team got in the elevator. As we get ourselves situated in the Coca-Cola Japan boardroom we heard real grunts and groans and bangs of the surfboard being brought up the stairs. They set the board down on the table with the “INTERNET SURF SHOP” letters laid into the surfboard facing up.
The boys were all pumped up and had a nice sheen, which was the look I was hoping for. We got settled. Chris and I sat at the middle of the board table with the surfboard right in front of us and the door across from us. Our beach team was standing to the right of us and were framed by the big windows looking across Roppongi Dori. (I did notice that EDS HQ was right across the street and I wondered internally if they were recording this building.) Right at 10am sharp Coca-Cola Japan executives started to come into the room. We all stood and started our greetings.
Then, a very old southern lady, at least 80 years old, walked into the room.
Everyone knew that the most powerful women in Coca-Cola worldwide just walked into room.
She stopped as she entered the room, looked around and exclaimed, “I like you.” In this really long drawn out southern voice. I froze and smiled as that the last time I heard that exact saying said that exact same way was
when Lou Blanchard protected me from that samurai sword swinging Dr. Yamamoto of my youth. I knew right then we got the business, even before our presentation got started. Our presentation introduced the world-wide-web to these Coca-Cola Japan executives. This was their first real understanding of what our vision of the www meant.
We went through a variety of design ideas and spoke about “three minute websites.” This was our web design philosophy, e.g. make your website fully engaging for three minutes.
Not just video, but everything about the site is focused on keeping the audience entertained. I called VP Steve the next day and asked what he thought and to close the business. He said, “Brad you won, we are giving you the contract.” He continued with, “We almost did not hire you because everyone thought your presentation was too slick.” My heart jumped and I was so proud that our little team beat Dentsu and we got the Coca-Cola web account. Our first job was to register one domain name for Coca-Cola Japan. They wanted more domains, one for each brand, but the rules in Japan back then and even still now say one company can only own one domain name. So they chose cocacola.co.jp.
Dentsu. Ok this is a name that did not mean much to me back then. Not much at all. But, as I would soon learn, this was the most feared company in Japan and it still is. At the time they were the largest advertising company in the world.
I was so high about getting the Coca-Cola Japan account that when I first heard this, I brushed it off. Brad, if you fuck with Dentsu they will have you killed. Ok, this really was weird for me to hear this. It motivated me to go after more Dentsu clients. Ford Motors was next and then more.
Then I heard a second person tell me the same thing, to fuck with Dentsu is death. Then 4 more very well respected people told me the same thing, including Campbell Gunn. My answer every time was, “fine, make sure that my wife is safe as she will make money from my books.” So, now we had Budweiser Japan and Coca-Cola Japan, the world’s largest advertisers as my clients now. It is just a few months after funding from the Tiedemann Group. We are on a roll and our efforts are just beginning.
The Dentsu threat becomes a distant memory with me as we are starting to build our Internet Empire.
In December 1995 my wife read in the newspaper that Tokyu Cable in our neighborhood was looking for 10 beta testers for a new cable internet service. I’ve never reacted so quick to an opportunity before or since.
Our office only had a 128kb line to the net. This was a full 10mb and free.
We got to be one of the beta testers. Now my heart says this was by no way an accident. I was chosen, but I did not care. I wanted fast net. They installed a free Macintosh computer, web cam and the cable internet. I was so happy and floored.
I immediately hooked up a room full PCs and set up a network.
Every keystroke was recorded, the camera was remotely operated on their end. It was weird to know this but again, I did not care, I wanted fast internet and this gave our firm an extreme advantage. Oh man, the internet is a dark and dirty place. That was true back in 1995 as it is today. Smut. We loved to chat with folks on the Cornell University live video chat site. Up to 8 people could all see each other and talk. One night a party at San Diego University was on. A hot, I mean striking hot, blond was typing away on the keyboard. All of a sudden she took off her top. Man the boys on the screens all lit up and then we all screamed when she went completely naked. This was happening live.
Then a frat boy walked up behind her and dropped his pants and started banging her. She was standing up leaning over the keyboard and still typing and chatting as she was getting it hard.
Wow, the boys at the Tokyu Cable office that night had a lot of tissues. Another evening I was on a chat site in a Hawaiian internet café. Two computer geeks started asking questions about Japan. I chatted in interview format, focused on finding UNIX programmers. I then hired both of them and moved them to Japan.
The IAC Online BBS was still operated by me. I was the System Operator (sysop), president, salesman and … Janitor. I was so ready to hire somebody to run the BBS. My first interview was with Shannon and I hired him on the spot.
But only after I realized something.
A few days prior one of my BBS users was complaining about somebody being mean to him in the chat room.
I always was so amused by these complaints. My first thought was these people have way too much time on their hands.
And I also said, “Just stop chatting with them.” Shannon had long sideburns, was short (I’m 6’2” so everyone is short) and jet black hair.
I was sitting across from Elvis. As I asked questions, I could tell that Shannon was a big fan of our IAC Online BBS. He knew a lot and was ready. Then I realized from the conversation that Shannon was the guy the other guy, the other user was complaining about. You’re hired! I had a quick meeting with Jay Smith, Simon Mansfield, Bruce Fienberg, Jeffrey Zhang, Daneeta Saft and others about giving Shannon the keys to the BBS. Everyone said no. Then I held up my hand as if holding keys and said, “ok, I am done with the BBS, so which one of you will be doing it?” Almost in unison, everyone said Shannon is fine. The rest of the team members did not care that much for Shannon, he just spoke too much. For me he was and is a true geek and I loved it.
When our offices were built the boys took my blue partitions with bubble window corners and proceeded to surround the BBS computers and Shannon. Basically creating a private office for Shannon.
Really, it did look like the cone of silence from the TV show Get Smart.
January in Japan is mating season. Yep, the biggest deals between companies in Japan happen in January.
Just love this month. Everyone is tired from all the drinking in December and they have budgets leftover that they have to spend before April. This January 1996 was no different. We bought Tokyo Journal Magazine and negotiated another Act of Godzilla clause contract with Japan Telecom. The purchase of the magazine was filling our business plan mission to use content to drive more eyeballs to our sites. MDDS. Media Driven Distribution Systems. I bought the magazine from the magazine distributor Yohan. One of the oldest firms in Japan, in particular in the book industry. I remember the president as he greeted me at the entrance and introduced me to one of his staff. “This is Ms. Tokugawa, she is directly descended from the Tokugawa Shogun,” Said the president.
We went up to his office and he took my picture with a Polaroid camera and then pinned to a wall of photographs. Some with over many years of the same person. That is his hobby.
I loved both of these things about
this meeting. I purchased the Tokyo Journal Magazine for 15,000,000 yen that day. Buying companies is fun. This would be no exception.
When I walked into the Tokyo Journal offices, Greg Starr the editor said, “What the hell are you doing here?” “I own the Tokyo Journal Now,” I stated. I love the deer in headlights look.
But Greg Star sure did not like me. I think he left within 10 minutes and never looked back.
I then proceeded to get held hostage by the art director. I was determined not to miss an issue so made the decision to pay his ransom.
Next time I will just call the police.
This person was immediately fired when the first issue was put to bed. I flew in a professional art director from Sydney Australia, Mr. Glenn Stace. Glenn was beyond talented and I was very lucky to have him. We published 16 of the best issues Tokyo Journal Magazine ever saw. One of our writers, Andrew Marshall, went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.
SCOOTERBOY!!! Scooterboy.com. Our design team member Paul McCallick produced a wonderful online comic called Scooterboy. It was so cool. Paul was very smart and the net was very slow back then. He devised a way for downloading the content while you were reading the first page. This meant your next page would just pop up and be ready. The perception of being very fast.
We grew fast with our funding and our new sales. We expanded from the 5th floor to 1st, 2nd and 4th floors.
I brought my brother Bill to build my offices for us.
He is a master craftsman and great guy. Billy was so funny about finding the materials he needed.
"One store only sells nails, and then I have to go across town to buy wood, and then another shop for glue." Exclaimed Bill. His complaints were full of hand waiving and stomping. Then he finally got all the material over a two week period. He then built my office in one day.
On the first floor we opened Japan's first Internet cafe called 'The Internet Surf Shop' that featured a custom Billy made balsa wood surfboard. Billy made a bar counter that we put all sorts of pictures and items and then covered with clear resin. This was California! My mom was also there in the summer of 1996 and she painted the walls of The Internet Surf Shop with beautiful waves and palm trees.
We prepped everything to be ready for our opening. I hired a Shinto priest to bless our business and The Internet Surf Shop.
On the day of our opening all 65 staff came downstairs and we all were very eager and excited to see this Japanese tradition.
A shrine was set up in front of the main wave wall painting. Pine branches and fish were placed strategically across the shrine.
The priest and the crew were all dressed in long black robes with what looked like white collars.
Epic party. 500 people show up. We had fire walkers, bud girls and free beer! The bud girls were so hot and friendly.
We had a dozen bud girls and Budweiser delivered a beer machine to our offices as a gift.
I quickly loaded it up with beer and changed the price to 10 yen a can. I also put a cup full of 10 yen coins on the machine. Lives were changed that night at the party. To say the very least. Which is what I will do with this evening. I will cherish and save this one for myself and those involved. Jay and Jacquie had a meeting the next day in the conference room. I remember this question from Jay, “Brad, what happened to the board room table? It’s all tilted.” I shrugged my shoulders and said not sure Jay. The Front Page of the Wall Street Journal – US and Asian editions – November 11, 1996. With my picture in WSJ dot style. Mom was so proud and really so was I. Setting Up Shop Foreign Entrepreneurs Find Niche in Japan for Start-Ups
By Steve Glain Staff Reporter
TOKYO - The Japanese marketplace may look like a jungle from the outside, but some pioneering foreign entrepreneurs see it as a New Frontier.
Brad Bartz, a 30-year-old Californian, started an Internet-access service here two years ago with second-hand computers in a tiny Tokyo office. Today, his company employs 60 and expects sales of $3.5 million for the year. Through technological prowess and aggressive marketing, it has won contracts from such corporate giants as Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., sometimes beating out big Japanese competitors. "If you're willing to work hard enough you can do great business here." Mr. Bartz says, "And you shouldn't have to go running to the American embassy for help." In Japan's competitive economy, the internet boom has created an island of opportunity for the likes of Mr. Bartz. But other fleet-footed foreigners are finding fertile ground for start-ups in markets like finance, distribution and recreation – particularly in services that are well developed in the West but not here.
-------------- End of WSJ article --------------
The article was powerful and secured our position as the Internet boys in town. My sister used to date the Bureau Chief of the Asian WSJ and he was so kind to send me a 'bromide' copy of the paper which I have framed and hanging in my office.
We began talks with a major cable TV company for their expansion into Japan. The WSJ article allowed a rapid increase in corporate connections.
CHAPTER 11 - Reaching Cloud Nine with Winning Ideas
Drinking in Japan was part of doing business. Your liver should get hazard pay here.
One of our clients was Toyota Motor Company and their ad agency was Saatchi and Saatchi.
I got a whirlwind tour by Andrew and his Vodka train. Andrew was the account exec for Toyota and like Coca-Cola Japan also wanted more .co.jp domain names.
It was the continuing topic that night as he proceeded to get me more drunk than I had ever been.
I can drink more beer than anyone, but this Vodka stuff took me out. But a wonderful thing happened.
I woke up fully clothed in my shower with the water running. My brain was spinning and I really did not remember coming home. Andrew apparently slipped me into a taxi in the wee hours of the morning. Epiphany. I mumbled to myself – one company can only have one domain name. Saying out loud again and again as the water hit me.
AHA! Delaware. The rules did not say Japanese company. It just said company. I got it! Man the adrenaline rush of that moment of discovery is still with me right now as I write this and as I read it. I immediately became sober. My blood pumping. I undressed (finally) and finished the shower. I dress quickly and called Jay.
Jay Jay Jay! Delaware companies will solve this problem. He also jumped out of his shoes and we both ran to the office. Oh man we were off to the races! Our computer screens checking on .co.jp domains to register.
First, I get Japan.co.jp and JPN.co.jp. My personal favorites. Each owned singularly by a newly formed Delaware corporation. Japan.co.jp Inc, Sushi.co.jp, Inc, etc. 75 bucks each! I bought 106 Delaware corporations.
We registered domains with glee and everyone on our team was so excited.
We got every state in America, but we somehow forgot Newjersey.co.jp, Jay's home state. Although he wants to blame me for this slight, he was in the room! We missed a few gems too, but that just gave us more adrenaline.
We got all of these .co.jp domains by the time our spree was over:
(see list below)
The domain collection was all passion words and not other's copyrights. We did not want to steal from others. We just wanted to express our creativity.
We did have nba.co.jp which we sold to the National Basketball Association for cost. Warren Shimaell wanted to sell it for big money and said, "Brad, I thought nba.co.jp was the national breadmakers association." As he winked and chuckled.
I protested and said that was not our purpose. We also got a cease and desist request from The Neilson Company against spaceman.com and spaceman.co.jp.
Apparently they had a software product called spaceman that helped grocery stores manage shelving. We told them to jump in a lake. Each and every domain has a business plan. Here in 2014 the domain Jobs.co.jp is about to be put into play with a new disruptive model. I also am seeking partners for a dating site featuring badboy.co.jp, princess.co.jp, badgirl.co.jp and prince.co.jp.
My hunch is princesses like badboys... I am eager to produce these domains 18 years after their birth. It seems like some of the business models might be perfect timing. Of course GAIJIN.co.jp is in play too…
CHAPTER 12 - The JPNIC Blacklist Wipes Out Everything
JPNIC, the Japan Network Information Center, immediately said no. You can't have these domains.
I called the nastiest asshole attorney in town, Mr. Warren Shimeall. He was my asshole. Warren was a salty dog and actually the last foreigner granted a Japanese law license in the 1950s.
Think about that, Japan loves to close its markets. It is a theme that is consistent throughout its history.
Warren did his job and we were granted all of our domains.
And in my anger for having to spend money I also registered jpnic.co.jp – I took the registrars own name. That is how stupid Mr. Maruyama the head of JPNIC was. But, this was also against my own beliefs. I did not register domain names to be a squatter or pirate. I have a business plan for each and every domain.
The retribution was swift. An emergency meeting was called by Mr. Maruyama of JPNIC.
Two weeks after our successful .co.jp domain registration spree JPNIC changed the rules. This was in September 1996.
1. Foreigners Can NOT register Japanese Domain Names 2. You Can NOT buy, sell, trade or lease a Japanese Domain Name. Ok, it is now official. I broke the Japanese internet. The intent of rule #2 was Maruyama's effort to stop all advertising on the Japanese Internet. The pure stupidity of this astounds me. Those were the official new rules. Mr. Maruyama then started and enforced a blacklist against me and my company. Yep a blacklist. The blacklist did not take long for it to do its damage. First, NTT PC Communications Mr. Uehara came to my office and said, “Brad we like you very much, but ‘they' said we cannot do business with you anymore.” Wow, this shocking news from my friend Mr. Uehara at NTT PC was the first arrow that hit my body. The wound simply would not heal. After he delivered the news he invited me to dinner, which was appropriately nice.
When I left him that evening I knew that I had opened a Pandora's Box that could not be closed again.
I immediately called my friends at the US Embassy Commercial office and asked for help. To my very disappointed surprise the US Embassy Tokyo said no, we will not help you.
I was visibly upset and complained as best I could.
They explained that Boeing was trying to sell more airplanes and that was more important than your silly little domain internet issue. Upset simply does not explain the feeling.
I called the ACCJ and asked for help. The resounding NO from this group was shocking and should be a stain on their otherwise good history. The ACCJ not only said no, but they joined Keidanren in supporting the unofficial blacklist against me and my firm.
The truth hurts. The ACCJ is not for its members or supporters, it is only for the military industrial complex to keep selling death. FUCK YOU ACCJ, class of 1996. The ACCJ canceled our contract to run their website. I became persona non-grata to the whole of the foreign community because no gaijin could register Japanese domain names anymore. You have now read twice about Mr. Maryuama. First in the sinking of my Blackship in Tokyo Bay and now in real-life as sinking my Internet Ship in the halls of Tokyo's Power.
You are reading the public record about Brad Bartz in Japan. I am taking the liberty of including verbatim three very important texts for your consideration.
1) Georgia University at Auburn business case study about Metamorph search and retrieval software and my Japan efforts at creating a business model. (You already read this. I know it was long, and you may have skipped it, but I suggest you read it again and as I learned new things about relationships of Duane Dick. )
2) JFTC – Japan Fair Trade Commission lawsuit focused against JPNIC and Mr. Maryuama.
3) BusinessWeek magazine article from 1997 that documents important steps.
As I introduce these texts I will continue weaving live and business vignettes for your and my entertainment.
That bounce in my step was not taken by this bastard Maruyama until September 1996.
So, sit back and enjoy as my blacklist experience in Japan is told as best I can to share the tragic misfortune that fell upon me and our internet wizardry.
I filed this with the Japan Fair Trade Commission – I lost.
Antimonopoly Act - unreasonable restraint of trade by a trade association.
Internet Access Center K.K. vs. Japan Network Information Center
This complaint is filed by, President, Internet Access Center K.K. against the Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC) for its domain name registration rules, which constitute an unreasonable restraint of trade. This complaint consists of the following allegations and a description of the evidence which I lay before you for your review, investigation and appropriate remedial action.
A short description of JPNIC
The specific JPNIC rules and activities being contested
A statement as to why the JPNIC rules and activities are a significant restraint of trade and are greatly dampening the electronic commerce and venture business spirit growth of the Japanese Internet
Proposed changes to these rules to remedy the restraint of trade by JPNIC
History of the interactions Internet Access Center K.K. (IAC) has had with JPNIC.
The issue of "unreasonable restraint of trade" by JPNIC is a Japanese domestic issue and should be decided/investigated by the Japan Fair Trade Commission. However the opinion of the International Assigned Number Authority pointing to RFC1591 concerning the correct management of domain name registration and distribution might be sought.
A feeling exists among members of JPNIC and the Japanese Internet community that JPNIC is actually hoping that they will be involved in a legal battle so that the Japanese courts may decide these issues for them. It is time to investigate the unreasonable restraint of trade by JPNIC and to help the Japanese economy become a powerhouse in Internet commerce.
1. A short description of the Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC)
These are from English translations of JPNIC documents. JPNIC (Japan Network Information Center) is the domestic NIC (country NIC) of Japan, and it administrates the domestic Internet resources, and controls, provides information.
In order to operate the Internet of Japan in a harmonious way, JPNIC is performing its activities by cooperating with the Internet of other countries. For example, JPNIC allocates IP addresses to all domestic organizations, this is because it is appointed by the InterNIC (formerly The NIC) through the internationally recognized IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). As well as with domain name, it is in accordance with ISO code meant for each country so that the top level of Japan ".JP" becomes an unique domain in the world. Besides, the database service provided by JPNIC is not only used by the domestic users, but also by users from all around the globe. Queries related to public documents and access to whois service from all around the world is 4% (mail server) and 24% respectively.
The first General Meeting of JPNIC was held at the University of Tokyo, computer center on April 9th, 1993. The participants were related to 20 networks organizations that are the members of JPNIC. It was a new step for the information center which is meant to be a place where experts related to Computer networks of Japan would be able to share information.
What is a Domain name?
In Internet, names like "AAA.BB.JP" separated by period are used to express domain name for organizations.
This domain name is a part of an electronic mail address and it has to be unique for all the organizations. Here the domain name after the last period (known as first level or top level (*1)) represents the country code (JP for Japan) as decided in ISO 3166 (*2). In case of Japan, considering JP as the top level, the domain name allocation group of JPNIC allocates domain name up to the third level (from now on it will be referred as JP domain name).
(*1) Domain names are read from left to right, i.e the one after the last period is referred as level 1, the one next to it as level 2 and the next one as level 3 domain name and so on.
(*2) In case of America there are exceptions like edu, com etc. But in most of the cases they have been used before the code was decided and they are kept the same because of historical reasons.
The present condition and structure of JP domain
The second level of JP domain represents the attribute of an organization by a two letter code (AC = academic, CO = commercial, GO = government, OR = organization, AD = administration (*3)), and the third level represents the organization name (known as domain name for organization). At present, JPNIC allocates one domain name per organization except for the exceptions (*4) that are approved by JPNIC.
Figure 1. Hierarchy of the NIC's around the globe
2. A list of the specific JPNIC rules being contested
I) A company/entity is only allowed to register one domain name with JPNIC, although the company may own many businesses and many brand name products.
II) A foreign company cannot register a domain name with JPNIC unless it is established in Japan with a registered Ikanshomeisho and a registered office in Japan.
III) An Individual (Japanese or foreigner) cannot register .co.jp JPNIC domain names.
IV) You cannot buy, trade or sell a JPNIC domain name, even when the business utilizing that name is sold.
JPNIC activity of "blacklisting" Internet Access Center K.K. and actually encouraging companies not to do business with IAC.
3. A statement as to why the JPNIC rules are a significant restraint of trade and are greatly dampening the electronic commerce and venture, capital and entrepreneurial business spirit and growth of the Japanese Internet. Japan is the second largest Internet market in the world, behind the United States, with an estimated 7,000,000+ users. The Internet and telecommunications infrastructure of Japan are on the way to being the world's best. Right now, 95%+ of Japanese homes can be connected with ISDN circuits. It is almost certain that the Japanese Internet market will become the largest Internet market in the world in terms of number of users and in the amount of actual Internet commerce that takes place.
I) A company/entity is only allowed to register one domain name with JPNIC.
Commerce is about marketing and branding strategies. Using unique names to designate a service or product. This JPNIC rule greatly limits the ability of businesses in Japan to expand their opportunities in Internet Commerce.
Yet, and this is a significant point, as of October 01, 1997 there were only 21,075 .co.jp domain names registered with JPNIC. This compares with more than 1,500,000 .com (U.S.) domain names. [It is widely recognized that a .co.jp designation refers to a Japan address and a .com designation refers to a U.S. address.]
This incredible difference in the number of registered domain names showcases how JPNIC rules constrict the creative growth of electronic commerce in Japan. Remember that Japan is the second-largest Internet market in the world. Many companies have more than one product or service that they sell. Many companies actually sell the same product or service using different brand names so they can reach different markets and test different pricing/marketing strategies without diluting the equity of their main brand. The limitation of "one company - one domain name" by JPNIC is an unreasonable restraint of trade.
There are numerous examples why this and other JPNIC rules are a major bottleneck to the growth of free enterprise in Japan. For example some 0120 free dial numbers are quite valuable and are bought and sold based on how easy the number is to remember. If Toyota Motor Company was restricted from naming its different car models to only one name based on the JPNIC "one-company can get only one domain name rule" it would be impossible for Toyota to differentiate each model in the consumers mind. And right now it is only www.toyota.co.jp...
In America Chrysler Motor Company operates unique domain name websites for different models, including www.jeepunpaved.com, www.4adodge.com, www.eaglecars.com, www.plymouthcars.com, www.chrysler.com, and www.chryslercorp.com. Also, in America one of the worlds' premiere branding companies, Proctor and Gamble, have domain names like, www.pg.com, www.always.com, www.tampax.com, www.tide.com, www.diarrhea.com, www.clearasil.com, www.covergirl.com, www.olean.com, www.sunnyd.com, www.clothesline.com, www.sassoon.com, www.oldspice.com, www.pampers.com, www.pringles.com, www.parenttime.com, www.criscokitchen.com, and www.hugo.com. This is only a sample of thousands of similar U.S. businesses. What a contrast to the struggling backward rules of JPNIC!
Before JPNIC changed its rules restricting domain names to Japanese corporations only IAC was successful in registering 100+ .co.jp domain names using Delaware, USA corporations for each one. IAC is using these names for electronic commerce in Japan. For example, isdn.co.jp is used to promote ISDN phone service and the sales of ISDN equipment, callback.co.jp is used to sell International phone services, and hoken.co.jp is being used to sell insurance products on the Japanese Internet. A variety of our other .co.jp names will be used to sell unique email addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IAC has been lucky to get these domain names and hopes that JPNIC will re-open its registration policy so other firms and individuals can also participate in creative Internet commerce activities in Japan.
II) A foreign company cannot register a domain name with JPNIC unless it is established in Japan with a registered Ikanshomeisho and registered office in Japan.
Japan is the second largest Internet market in the world behind the United States with an estimated 7,000,000+ Japanese users. It is an unreasonable restraint of trade that foreign companies and entrepreneurs are prevented from registering JPNIC domain names and thus prevented from expanding their business on the Japanese Internet.
In today's global economy, it is imperative that Japan take a leading role in Internet commerce. Foreign companies and entrepreneurs have much to offer Japan and its citizens.
IAC is now working with a California based company that is interested in creating a Japanese website to sell its products directly to Japanese consumers. They have a great site at www.supergo.com which sells bicycles, bicycles parts and accessories to the Internet public. "We make many large, factory-direct purchases of hot new items and sell them for the lowest price," states the www.supergo.com website. They want to operate a Japanese language website to offer these great deals to Japanese consumers in the Japanese language. They want to register a JPNIC domain name to reflect to the Japanese consumer that they doing business in Japan such as supergo.co.jp or mountainbike.co.jp, but they cannot under JPNIC's bottleneck strategy.
III) An Individual (Japanese or Foreigner) cannot register .co.jp JPNIC domain names.
This rule is a significant restraint of trade against venture companies, entrepreneurs and individuals wishing to engage in electronic commerce on the Japanese Internet, not to mention average users wishing to start a website with an easy-to-remember location. Japan must encourage venture businesses and the Internet is a great method for venture companies and entrepreneurs to bring their products and services to market.
Of the 1,500,000+ .com American Internet domain names more than a few are registered to individuals dreaming of starting their own business and selling their product or services over the Internet. This dream is not available in Japan because of JPNIC. What a shame.
The Japan Fair Trade Commission can empower Japanese entrepreneurs to make the Japanese Internet a highly creative and successful venture business growth vehicle.
IV) You cannot buy, trade or sell JPNIC domain names.
This is the highest form of restraint of trade that JPNIC is inflicting on the Japanese Internet community.
The history of commerce has many many examples of companies building brand equity and selling those brands to other companies. Companies and entrepreneurs hope to sell products and services through unique domain names that are somehow related to those products and services.
For example, a world famous soft-drink company (Coca Cola Japan) can only register one name even though they have over 100 different products that are targeted at different audiences.
JPNIC activity of "blacklisting" Internet Access Center K.K. and actually encouraging companies not to do business with IAC.
In March 1997, IAC suggested to Mr. John Durkin of Ajinomoto General Foods (AGF) that it register ocha.co.jp and coffee.or.jp to help sell its products on the Japanese market via the Internet. In following the JPNIC "one company one domain name" rule, Mr. Durkin provided IAC with company information of two Gunma-ken AGF subsidiaries to purchase the rights to ocha.co.jp and coffee.or.jp.
What followed was direct intervention by JPNIC to disrupt the business of IAC. As relayed by Mr. John Durkin of AGF, the JPNIC employee that checks domain name applications is married to the controller of AGF. She scolded her husband for trying to register ocha.co.jp and coffee.or.jp using AGF's subsidiary companies. She also told her husband that IAC is on the JPNIC "Blacklist" and that AGF should not do business with IAC. Mr. John Durkin was in turn scolded by the controller (for getting his wife mad at him). Mr. Durkin then called IAC and told IAC to stop the registration of ocha.co.jp and coffee.or.jp because he did not want to fight with his controller because that is the person who controls his budget.
This was a very bad situation and typifies the restraint of trade issue of JPNIC policies and the harassment actions of JPNIC. IAC lost all chance of doing business with AGF. This was harmful to IAC economically and in reputation . 4. Proposed changes to these rules to remedy the restraint of trade by JPNIC
I) Removal of unreasonable limit on the number of .co.jp domain names that can be registered with JPNIC.
II) Removal of unreasonable restrictions on what kind of entity can register .co.jp domain name
III) Removal of unreasonable restrictions on the buying, selling and trading of domain names registered with JPNIC.
If necessary, the establishment of kk.jp and yk.jp to be only issued to Kabushiki Kaisha and Yugen Kaisha entities respectively.
Immediate restraint on the JPNIC activity of "blacklisting" Internet Access Center K.K. And an immediate stop to any JPNIC activities that actually encourage companies not to do business with IAC.
5. History of interactions between Internet Access Center K.K. (IAC) and JPNIC
IAC was founded in 1992 in Tokyo, Japan by Bradley Bartz and Jay Smith and has been providing Internet services in Japan since 1994, then running under the name of iac-online.com. IAC now is famous in the Japanese Internet community for owning more than 100 .co.jp domain names. Our first JPNIC domain name, "iac.co.jp," was registered in cooperation with NTT Personal Communications (NTTPC), IAC's Internet infrastructure partner. This was in early 1995. In the summer of 1996 we started to request the registration of the multiple JPNIC domain names in our collection. It was then that JPNIC stated that "one company may only register one domain name." After checking with IAC'S attorney about JPNIC's rule we decided to register multiple Delaware, USA corporations to meet this requirement. JPNIC granted IAC all of our requests. This was in August/September 1996. Shortly after that, JPNIC changed their rules again so that foreign companies may not register .jp domain names without (having) the corporation actually existing in Japan with a registered ikanshomesho. Thus, JPNIC erected its own trade barrier to protect the Japanese Internet from foreign competition.
Registrations for IAC clients rejected by JPNIC
JPNIC has a history of summarily rejecting IAC requests for domain name registrations for its clients, including the following:
1. actuary.co.jp - A foreign entrepreneur living in Japan operates an independent actuary service for foreign corporations in Tokyo. His request for actuary.co.jp was rejected because he is not a corporation. This is a great example of how the JPNIC "one company - one domain name" rule excludes independent, start-up and entrepreneurial companies from doing business on the Japanese Internet.
2. A Major Softdrink Company (Coca Cola Japan) - originally registered theirname.co.jp in 1996. IAC also suggested that this company also register other versions of their name .co.jp to make it easier for Japanese consumers to find their Internet website. JPNIC rejected the second name based on their "one company - one domain name" rule. This major soft drink company had to give up and only register one name. Please note that this major soft drink company has over 120+ different branded drinks, each .
We have more examples and suggest many hundreds if not thousands of examples exists from parties that used other Internet service companies to register domain names.
Change in Domain Name
On September 30, 1997 IAC requested JPNIC to change four domain names to different names as follows:
sport.co.jp change to keizai.co.jp
jmen.co.jp change to desu.co.jp x-files.co.jp change to kensaku.co.jp
spaceman.co.jp change to chat.co.jp
All four proposed changes were rejected. All of these domain names are held by Delaware, USA corporations of the same name. JPNIC is requesting the inkanshomesho. These corporations are not in Japan, but are represented by Internet Access Center K.K. All of these domain names have been approved by JPNIC and 20,000 yen for each name was paid in 1996. This is another example of harassment by JPNIC against IAC.
Attached is a list of IAC registered JPNIC Domain Names. IAC hopes that the Japan Fair Trade Commission will make the opportunity to register creative JPNIC domain names a competitive and open process.
IAC stands ready to respond and assist in any manner requested by the Japan Fair Trade Commission.
RFC 1591 in Japanese and English - RFC 1591 is understood to be the authoritative guideline for domain name registrars. It is included here for reference.
Briefs on domain name registration policy of ten different countries. - This information comes from www.netnamesusa.com who specializes in International domain name registrations services. This is not an official document and some country policies may not be accurate. However this give a good benchmark as to how other countries administer domain names.
Various documents in Japanese from JPNIC about JPNIC. - provided to give more background about JPNIC. All of these documents are available on the Internet at www.nic.ad.jp
Email correspondence between JPNIC and IAC - provided here are copies of email correspondence to and from IAC and JPNIC. It is only provided for reference.
List of IAC registered JPNIC Domain Names -see below
This list is provided to highlight IAC's experience with JPNIC and to help encourage the JFTC to open of JPNIC's restrictive policies. This list should also be viewed as an example of using great domain names to compete in Internet electronic commerce
Memorandum of Understanding on the Generic Top Level Domain Name Space of the Internet Domain Name System (gTLD-MoU) - This document is provided to showcase the International debate and resolutions for opening up to competition International domain name registration.
List of Signatories of the Generic Top Level Domain Memorandum of Understanding (gTLD-MoU) - this document is provided to show that as a signature to the above gTLD-MoU, JPNIC is stating it believes in a nonmonopoly operation of domain name registration.
---END JFTC Complaint ---
I hope you enjoyed that. To me it gives more concrete details and facts about this story being told here.
The AGF story still enrages me and was proof of the blacklist. Players can be deposed.
Remember the Blacklist started immediately after successfully registering our collection of .co.jp domain names in August of 1996.
And I have proof in writing and anecdotal evidence. I also confronted Maruyama in 2000 and asked him why he did his blacklist and he said, “Because I don't like you.”
I was bald in February of 2000 and on my way out of Japan. That moment I was standing in front of the JPNIC / JPRS 1st floor lobby sign taking a selfie. I was wearing jeans, a sports coat that hid my IAC ball logo t shirt.
I could not believe my timing. Right after I smiled for my camera I looked left and Mr. Maruyama was walking towards me. I stopped him and he protested with, “who are you?”
I looked at him dead to rights, grabbed both sides of my sports coat and as I opened it to show my IAC logo and I said, “I am Brad Bartz.”
I think asked him point blank about the blacklist and he answered as I wrote above.
When Maruyama's blacklist started it was September 1996 and we were 65 employees at this time. We had a smashing business that was growing.
Terry Matthews, my mentor said, “Never walk away from equity.”
Along with many things I have learned over the years this simple statement is the strongest motivator there is. It is ingrained and if I were ever to get a tattoo that is what it would say.
As you read above I started fighting back, but I was simply no match for Japan Inc. and its blacklist.
What happens when cash flow stops?
Devastation. But it takes longer than you think and our fighting spirit is embodied in the period between August 1996 and January 1998.
I hope that I can talk to all of the players and give you as much details as I can someday. For now you will get my recollections of the valley of death.
Up to the point of the blacklist I could do no wrong. I was in complete creative freedom with my ideas and implementation.
By the time we hit our peak we had a fully operating web advertising agency, the largest English language magazine Tokyo Journal, dial-up PPP internet connections JVs with NTT PC Communications and Japan Telecom, and our very cool Internet Surf Shop.
And our sales were rapidly increasing.
The first business to take the blacklist brute force was our web advertising agency. We lost all of our major accounts. Everyone left basically saying that “they” told us not to do business with you. I hate “they”.
CocaCola Japan left so quick it felt like Jolt Cola. The ACCJ not only said goodbye, but became “they” in instructing others not to do business with us. Note to self, don't hire hot chicks and send them to men meetings.
This was particularly true of some of the board members of the ACCJ in 1996 to 2000.
Roger Boisvert told me personally in 2004 that members of the ACCJ board were shareholders in his Global Online (GOL) and they did not disclose their conflict of interest when they voted my firm out. It is disgusting to me that the Boing President was a lying, cheating bastard. My partner at Hodes Optical, Stanley Musser's father was the inventor and patent holder of the recoilless rifle.
I mention this as I have grown up with these merchants of death. Why do I single him out? I met him in 1999 in Los Angeles at the annual gala event for the Japan America Society of Southern California.
I did not approach him. He came up to me and basically spat in my face and said, “What are YOU doing here?” My wife was surprised by his venom and she pulled me away to safety. Why did the ACCJ throw me under the bus? Because my Internet activities became infamous and they started talking about me instead of Boeing at trade discussions between Japan and the US.
Just asked the president of the Mitsubishi Research Institute or do a FOIA request and check it out.
As Pink Floyd Says, “This will not do. Call the School Master.”
So, one of the most creative and fun moments in my career, that of finding the legal loophole to get my .co.jp domain collection, was turned against me in a judo move that I still don't quite understand.
Then I lost the Budweiser account. My free beer was gone and a 50,000,000 yen annual account was terminated.
Losing clients this way still stings.
A few glimmers of hope from loyal clients. We built Citibank's website and the British Council English School, Swiss Air and others were just terrific.
Our Tokyo Journal team was just getting started. The sales team was getting it done, but the blacklist started to take away the big clients. CocaCola Japan, again was first to jump ship and their traditional back page cover ad was gone.
I bought the Tokyo Journal for two reasons. 1. I have something to sell, e.g. internet access services and 2. Content is king.
I can truthfully say that actually Cash Flow is king, but that is a lesson you should be learning in these lines.
1997 was the hardest year in my business life.
I fired 60 people this year. 11 in one day when I had to close the Tokyo Journal magazine. My sister was visiting me from Mexico City for a week. That firing day I asked her to sit in the corner and just observe what I had to do. Basically an exit interview with 11 people as I let them go.
Luckily I found a buyer for the Tokyo Journal.
Steven Hauser bought the magazine for 7.5 million yen, half what I paid, and hired some of the key staff to keep the magazine publishing.
One of the printer's took us to court for 14 million yen in due printing bills. I had to teach the Japanese lawyers how to fight. Continually reminding them not to think and do as I say.
We had two things to communicate to the court. One was 12.5 million yen due from the Magazine distributor and the ad for United Airlines was printed wrong.
We were able to settle for the receivable amount and got them paid. We stopped paying rents on my and Jay Smiths home. We stopped paying ourselves anything but food.
By the end of 1997 my family was living with Jay and Matt Ghali. Matt was one of the Unix programmers that I hired over the webcam from Hawaii.
His partner Chad was one of three of my staff that got deported or refused re-entry into Japan.
Read that last sentence again. The blacklist was so pervasive that three of my employees got deported.
Two of the world's greatest programmers were removed from building Japan's Internet and a wonderful salesman missed his dream of living long in Japan. Japan's loss.
Less than 300 people get deported a year, my 3 deportees where more than 1% of the total that year.
The blacklist not only broke me, it broke the Japanese internet.
I sold the internet PPP business to Roger Boisvert at GOL. My powerbase and the purpose of my business was now gone.
Tuesday February 3, 1998 The Daily Yomiuri
IAC sell Internet dial-up business
Tokyo-based Internet service provider Internet Access Center (IAC) said Monday it had sold its dial-up access business to rival Global OnLine (GOL) for an undisclosed amount. Bradley Bartz, president of Internet Access Center, said his firm would focus on “building great Web sites” for corporate clients such as Citibank, Polaroid and the British Council. “We know what our core competencies are,” he said. GOL, he noted, has built and impressive dial-up network and would allow for a smooth transition.
For example, users will be able to keep their current e-mail addresses for a least two years.
GOL President Roger Boisvert said when services change hands, users usually have on a few months in which to change their e-mail addresses.
“We're trying to expand and IAC needed to change something,” said Boisvert. Now, he said, IAC can focus on more profitable areas. Boisvert said the new customers would book his business by 15-20 percent to about 14,000 and increase name recognition, boosting sales of more profitable corporate accounts.
Boisvert said his firm currently services about 500 large corporate clients, including Deutsche Telekom. In addition to Web design, Bartz said IAC would focus on a new Web-based e-mail service for Japan, called Jmail. Jmail will be similar to the popular Hotmail, allowing users to read their e-mail from any computer connected to the Internet. The service is to begin March 1 and be officially launched on April 1.
Bartz stirred controversy in the nation's Internet industry in December, when he filed a complaint with the Fair Trade Commission against the body that regulates Internet domain names in Japan.
--- End The Daily Yomiuri Article ---
Boy, I tell you that was hard for me to write. My eyes welled up each time I wrote Roger Boisvert.
We lost all but the second floor, which we quickly rented out half to Marcus Leach and his headhunting crew.
We just had the front of the 2nd floor and a ledge outside the window is where we stored our 10 foot balsa Internet Surf Shop surfboard there.
As I dismantled the company I sold as much as I could. Our 250 cups per hour cappuccino machine got us more than we paid for it, so that was nice.
I then readied to check our massive computer collection and prep them for sale. As I turned on the best machines my heart sank. I had 10 of the latest computers with the fastest chips available. The boot bios showed the clock speed of 133 instead of the 200 MHz that should have been there.
My scumbag staff stole the chips and swapped them with their home computers. My team all knows who you are and you do too. I would learn that one of these bums would cause all sorts of bullshit trouble in Tokyo after he left. Often getting fired for stealing secrets and selling them to competitors. Fernando. Fuck off.
Firing people did bring some personal hurt too. Many of these folks were my best friends too.
One group got so mad they went and got really really drunk during lunch and came back to the office and started yelling at me from the front of the building.
I still had my 5th floor balcony so I stayed away and just watched from above. It was surreal and the continued impact of the blacklist was now taking my friends.
CHAPTER 13 - Futuristic Interlude. Tokyo is a Cartoon.
This happened last night, 9/20/14, word candy can be fun.
Roppongi can be edgy sometimes.
As my friend walked into the Daily Yamazaki convenience store to get cigarettes I waited outside along Gaien Higashi Dori.
I noticed a local old drunk talking to some young yakuza punks. Talking is not the right word. The old drunk was having an imaginary conversation and the punks just happen to be there.
The punks were part of an extended group of thugs lining the street last night. I could feel the anger rising as the young punks started darting and jiving around the old man.
The language used by the yakuza is always such a delightful sound, not. As I stood the world seemed to go in slow motion.
The tallest and dumbest looking punk was really getting riled up. The old man drunk continued on with his ghostly conversation.
I was alert and not amused.
Then the tall punk rapidly pulled back his right arm and in the same motion he jumped in the air. As his fist reached its apex and this big punk was in the air I stepped in front of the old man. Now the punk was looking me dead to rights in the eye as I catch his punch and proceed to peacock myself as a protector of the old drunk.
Still, life is in super slow motion.
I stand my ground. My jaw is descended from a Golden Glove boxing champion and my protection of right from wrong give me unknown power to stand my ground.
The chimpira punk starts darting and dancing like a gorilla and screaming this is Japan, you speak Japanese… as his friends started to bulge behind him. Now three of them are to my left, front and right. All three start in a hypnotic pumping dance of hate.
I stand my ground and say in Japanese.
Ojisan nandemoshimasen deshita. BAKA. Stupid, this old man did not do anything. Stupid. Is all I could utter.
Q, my mate in the store then comes outside and stands just to right just behind and I still stand my ground as these fuckers start getting tighter around me and now I notice 15 guys in a traffic jam behind my threats.
The sidewalk in front of the Daily Yakuza convenience store is lined with a 3 foot tall metal fence to keep the crowds from being hit by the Ferraris driving by.
This creates a block that probably saved my life as they could not surround me.
Q looks horrified as I am still in a pumped up with peacock adrenaline state. The punks can't hit me. They want to and if they see me again in a not lit part of this street I am a dead man.
Then I see a middle aged man all in black and noticeable tattoos on his arms and what seemed like a punch perm hair style.
Now I feel scared for the first time. If this man grunts and unleashes his gorillas I will wake up in a hospital. I still stand my ground, but I must admit that my knees felt weak when I made eye contact with this man.
Then Popeye dressed like Don Ho on steroids, as Q would later describe him to me, appeared in front of the mafia boss and he stared at me as he quickly approached. Q's eyes shot a look of “Oh Shit” my way. Then Popeye The Yakuza Enforcer pushed Q and I back and said this is over.
My mind is racing as his oh my god huge arm pulsed with power as he touched me. I stand ground again with my final thought being I just saw two policemen right across the street hassling a foreigner. I have my
passport in my pocket just in case I get that same cop to foreigner treatment. No passport on body can lead to instant deportation here.
Popeye established his black and blue credentials with a second push that made me step back for the first time. Q's eye said this was time.
I deflated my chest and walked backwards away from the enforcer.
That colorful Don Ho workout shirt clung to his chest and I felt relief that the crowd behind him was not moving forward anymore and Popeye stood with a cop wide stance in front of the Daily Yakuza Convenience Store.
Man, the blood was pumping fast and continued to do so all night. We walked to our familiar Roppongi adult playground and continue our epic day by going to the Tropic of Cancer bar.
Q's good friend, Hoki Tokuda, was married to author Henry Miller and ran a cute bar on the 6th floor of a backstreet building.
This is my first time to meet Hoki and I am just so darn pleased to have the chance.
She regaled Q and I with stories of her relationship with Henry Miller.
“There was no sex, he was just crazy in love with me. He simply announced at a party that I was his fiancé. And I screamed no you are not,” Hoki said in a playful tone.
On the walls were pictures of Hoki and Henry Miller and a piece he painted of her with writings and graffiti. One said, “Unlocking the cobwebs of the mind.” Those words got me.
We then went to a local sushi bar and Hoki treated Q and I to dinner, drinks and more laughter.
This was so welcome as I continually apologizing for bringing my adrenaline filled body to meet her for the first time.
She was ok because she understood that I helped a helpless drunk old man who we all consider part of our community.
I also think that she is quite used to manic behavior by her many years with Henry Miller.
This day, September 20, 2014 will hereto and forever more be known as Q and Brad's Big Tokyo Misfit Adventure.
This epic day starts with a ride to Hakone in the romance car from Shinjuku.
Q quickly names it the bromance car and we laugh our way to start our journey.
We take the line and I point out solar homes that we see along the way. Then we take a switch back train to reach the town of Gora. From here we take a ropeway and then a skyway to steaming mountain to with hot water from hell spurting out all around.
At the top I run into the country manager for Sunpower Corporation Zachary Struyk.
He is surprised as I to meet where hell meets earth. I have Zach on my list of need to visits during this trip so this saved a phone call. Q and I visit the Hakone Open Aire museum and I get to relive one of my very favorite Japan memories.
I explained to Q that in January of 1990 I visited this museum before, but I was late and when we got there the museum was closed.
As with today's Q adventure, the intent of the trip was to see the Henry Moore statues and the Picasso collection.
Back in 1990 my friend Ron and I decided to just walk around the town a bit before heading back. As we randomly hit a side street I noticed a large gate at the lower part of the museum property. This gate was dark green and solid, but it had a very small door on the right hand side. The door was immediately dubbed “The Alice in Wonderland Door” as it was half my size. I reached out to the doorknob and looked back at Ron and my face beamed as the handle turned and this little door opened. Ron and I step thru the looking glass and enter the closed Hakone outdoor museum. The sky is orange from the sunset and the grounds are completely empty.
We walked in complete silence for such a long time as we wondered and touched these wonderful art pieces.
It is truly hard to describe the magic of that time. A very unexpected gift from Japan. Q and Brad's Big Tokyo Misfit Adventure continues as we find the Alice in Wonderland Door we both smile big. We wander for hours as the art around us beckons. So I got Alice in Wonderland, Henry Moore, The Yakuza Enforcer, Henry Millers Wife Hoki Tokuda and we are not done yet! At 2am Q and I thank Hoki for a wonderful evening and hop a taxi for a rave club called Vision. Our great mate Joey Slick is a Tokyo landmark and a DJ at InterFM radio and a frickin hot vinyl man. He starts at 2:10 and we make just in time to spend a few minutes with the bouncer as we get listed in.
I'm the oldest guy at 48, but my long flowing gray hair looked great bopping and getting hit by lasers.
This Vision club is on B1 in Shibuya. The place was massive and had a least 5 DJ sessions grinding and pumping that I found. There certainly might have been more with every door bringing a slightly different version of house music. At 3am these three wow wow wow hot chicks are standing in the corner wearing glasses, a doctor's frock and not much else. The fishnet stockings lead up to the fountain of youth.
No Viagra needed to keep the blood pumping this night. Right next to the corner is a floor to ceiling speaker and Q is standing right in front of. He is in a trance and I catch his attention and point to the hot chicks and he beams!
We make a round again to find Joey. Boom boom boom goes the music. We find ourselves back in the room with the hot girls but now they are on the bar doing an amazing pole dance routine. The doctors frocks flowing and falling in place. Q and Brad’s Big Tokyo Misfit Adventure is capped.
CHAPTER 14 - Selling Everything & Death Blow in BusinessWeek
Ok, thanks for your patience, now back to your regular programing.
This ad is dated September 7, 1997 (image not shown because I don't have photoshop to make 300dpi. And if I keep it black and white printing is so much cheaper -)
We still were growing the PPP internet dial-up business and using the domain name collection to promote unique email addresses. The PPP business was my only truly profitable business. It was run by Jeffrey Zhang who is now a heavyweight at DELL computer in Asia
Jeffrey is really a chief operating officer. He ran the PPP division as his own and that meant everything was on-time and accounted for
Because of the blacklist I lost my COO
By the end of 1997 Jay and I had to come to a decision. It was who is going to stay in Japan and clean up this mess. We flipped a coin and I ‘lost'. Jay left in January of 1998 and he went back to America and worked for Jefferies Securities. He help 7 companies to an IPO. He then became a business professor at Kagoshima University which led to his current position as dean of business venture studies at Maryland University. The blacklist took my very best friend, my Harvard MBA wizard
I told Jay I would not leave until it was done. Very few people were left and paying those left was a day to day tribulation
Matt Ghali, who just moved out of the home Jay and I were sharing as I found a new home in Togoshi Ginza. Matt had the root passwords to our servers and he refused to give them back. I had a deliverable on the server that was needed to get paid and he prevented me from getting it
He held me hostage. And he was mean. He took my mom's art studio website at Bartz.com and pointed it to a porn site. I was so mad. I called the FBI Mr. Clark Frogley at the US Embassy.
I told him I would like Matt arrested and he calmly said, “let me call him."
Mr. Frogley called Matt and Matt did not believe him. Then Mr. Frogley gave him the US Embassy's phone number and said please call me back. Matt knew this number and he broke immediately and gave him our root password
Then the press turned dark on me too. I had always been a press darling with my name splashed in newspapers since an early age. My career and skills are epic and many have benefited from me being alive.
Please read this story and then after read about the mistakes in the article so you can understand that this hatchet job was just that. The BusinessWeek editors did not do any fact checking and printed it with wrong company names and misspellings of key player's names. See if you can spot the intent of the reporter to harm me.
In fact, before this article was published a friend said to me that Tanya Clark said to him at a party that, “I am going to bury Bartz.” Shocked was I.
BusinessWeek Badge of Honor http://www.businessweek.com/1997/35/b3542037.htm
SAGA OF A CYBER DEBACLE
How an American in Tokyo raised millions for his company--and lost it in a flash. It is, in all respects, an improbable tale. The year: 1989. The place: Tokyo. In the midst of a financial bubble, a 23-year-old American--a smooth-talking telemarketer named Brad Bartz--arrives on vacation. Believing that he, too, can become a millionaire and share in Japan's heady prosperity, he stays on. He teaches English, marries a Japanese woman, and later scrapes by as an importer of American goods.
Fast-forward to 1995. Bartz is doing deals with big-name companies and running an Internet startup, fueled by almost $4 million in venture capital. By 1996, he has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, started numerous spin-off ventures--and run through all the money in less time than it takes most entrepreneurs to write a business plan.
How, you ask, can things move at such a breathless pace? The stars might never align in such a pattern again. Bartz's rapid rise and dramatic fall was helped along by Japan's frenzied economy--but also by the Internet mania that gripped investors, the mystique surrounding Western knowhow in Japan, and a good measure of hubris. And then, too, there was an awful lot of cash and very little oversight. "Insanity," Bartz admits. "You make a lot of mistakes when you're young and dumb." His E-mail handle, "Cowboy," says a lot.
When Bartz decided to pursue his fortune in Japan, he knew he was short on experience. So he teamed up with another expatriate, Jay Smith, then a 26-year-old Harvard MBA who had done some management consulting.
In 1990, the duo started Trade Balance Inc., a New Jersey-based company exporting a mishmash of products to Japan--everything from patio furniture to Washington State wine to software. Bartz, his wife Tomoko, and Smith ran the business out of Bartz's cheap rented house in Chiba, an hour from Tokyo. In 1993, Bartz got his first inspiration. While struggling to sell customers Metamorph, a search-engine program, he noticed that information-starved expatriate American execs were far more interested in the English-language reports in his demo. So Bartz crafted deals with about 20 information providers to put English-language news and information about Japan on an online bulletin board. Later, to create a customer base, Bartz offered members of the American Chamber of Commerce free bulletin-board and E-mail service. Then Bartz set to work persuading major businesses to advertise online. Coca-Cola Japan, for example, paid an initial $10,000 to showcase its logo, according to Bartz.
Along the way, Bartz made many a cold call--with some measure of success. Masaru Morai, then president, now chairman, of Compaq Japan, says he was impressed enough to give Bartz an old server and some used computers. "I tried to help because he was aggressive enough to try to start a business," says Morai. "Although, perhaps, sometimes he is a bit too aggressive." Out of gratitude, Bartz gave Compaq free advertising.
One deal led to another. Through Morai, Bartz met the president of NTT PC Communications, a subsidiary of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, Japan's largest telecom company, which wanted to put bid specifications for its projects online-in English. "We were not quick enough to implement smaller marketing ideas for the English-speaking community," says Takayuki Uehara, an executive manager at NTT PC. In January, 1995, NTT PC worked out a deal that gave Bartz space on its server so he could operate as one of Japan's first full-fledged Internet service providers (ISPs). In return, Bartz agreed to give NTT PC a share of subscription revenues. "We had about a dollar in our pocket when we signed," Bartz recalls.
BEER BUDDIES. Bartz often bartered away his company's services, even getting 300 cases of beer from Budweiser for setting up a Web site. Of course, that didn't do much for cash flow. But finances didn't stay shaky for long. At a Tokyo party in April, 1995, Bartz met Campbell Gunn, a Scottish venture capitalist running a Japanese investment fund for privately held Tiedemann Investment Group. Tiedemann is a New York-based firm whose general partner, Carl Tiedemann, 67, is a former president of Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette. With a clink of beer bottles, Gunn, a bit of a cowboy himself, vowed he would invest Tiedemann's funds in Bartz's online service. Much to Bartz's surprise, Gunn later made good on his promise. Within a few months, Gunn had committed the Japan fund to investing 327 million yen, about $3.8 million at the time, in Bartz's business in exchange for a 22% stake in the company. Thus, Internet Access Center (IAC) was born--and the real madness began.
"It was like champagne," recalls Bartz, who moved to fancier digs and leased an imported car. The partners spun a thousand tangential ventures, launching a Web-site-design business, a Web-site-design training program, an Internet cafe, and Japan Press Network, a technology and automotive news service. "We were just throwing stuff at the wall to see what would stick," Bartz admits. To staff their multiple ventures, Bartz says, IAC hired 55 people in six months, with managers' annual salaries starting at a hefty 7 million yen (about $82,000 at the time). Bartz threw big parties, helped along by the bartered Bud.
But beneath the flash, problems were brewing. For one, Bartz routinely hired the young and inexperienced, including close friends and relatives. "We started with people none of whom had any real full-time businessmanagement experience," Smith says. "It was just terrible."
Perhaps their most foolish move was IAC's March, 1996, purchase of Tokyo Journal, an unprofitable 16-year-old English-language magazine. Simon Mansfield, Bartz's pal and right-hand man, who negotiated the deal, so alienated employees that most quit en masse, including the editor-inchief. Bartz installed his cousin, a journalist, in his place and tried to get by with IAC's existing sales staff and editorial employees from Japan Press Network. But reporters balked at the extra work, and the sales team ignored deadlines and sent production costs soaring.
To keep things going, the partners relentlessly pursued new deals and capital. Among others, they talked to American Insurance Group, which examined IAC's books but didn't bite.
"Because we were focusing on investors, we let the wheel go," concedes Bartz. Sadly, his backers apparently didn't rein him in either. "IAC typified the crest of the Internet's popularity in Japan, when people invested millions without holding the investees accountable," says rival Net-service provider Terrie Lloyd, publisher of Computing Japan. Gunn, who left Tiedemann at the end of 1995 and joined another investment firm, remains on IAC's board. He concedes "it was probably a mistake" to fund IAC rather than a rival ISP. "I should take Brad out behind a shed and kick him," he adds.
By June, 1996, Bartz had plowed through all the seed capital, and the workplace was rife with infighting. Even the neophyte managers sensed something was wrong. Desperate, Bartz went prospecting for new investors in Los Angeles. Having no success there, Smith flew to New York, where he persuaded Tiedemann to part with $600,000 more on the grounds that funds were needed because of the purchase of Tokyo Journal. Also, IAC expected momentum from a deal with IBM to bundle IAC software with 300,000 computers, agreeing to pay about $300,000 for that nonexclusive privilege, Bartz says. Tiedemann officials in New York declined to comment publicly on any aspect of the two IAC investments.
By October, 1996, the $600,000 was gone, too. Bills mounted, and the partners scrambled to restructure. Today, little remains of the old IAC. Gone are the Web-training program, bulletin-board services, and Internet cafe. Japan Press Network continues in name only, and the ISP limps along. Budweiser took its Web business elsewhere, but Bartz claims to still have about 10 Web clients. More than half of IAC's staff has quit or been fired. Tokyo Journal closed on July 19.
As Bartz and Smith try to regroup and raise new capital, critics doubt they've learned their lesson. The partners swear they won't make the same mistakes again, adding: "We certainly will make different mistakes." The question is, will investors give them a chance?
When the Solution Turns Out to Be the Problem
Tokyo-based Internet Access Center, launched by Jay Smith and Brad Bartz, flew high and fell fast. Many of its woes stemmed directly from strategies that initially proved successful.
In the beginning In the end BARTER Short of capital, ...but that left him in a Bartz traded services for perennial cash-flow crisis needed equipment...
HIRING Trusted friends and relatives shared his enthusiasm for launching the company... ...but later, he came to distrust their abilities
DIVERSIFICATION Brimming with ideas, Bartz branched into an array of promising services... ...but with each new venture, the company lost focus
ATTRACTING CASH A sudden infusion of venture capital allowed Bartz to expand aggressively... ...but it also let him spend with abandon, ignoring financial controls
By Tanya Clark in Tokyo and Edith Hill Updike in New York
Ok, first Ms. Clark says I bought an imported car to secure her story that I spent recklessly. She knew what I drove and how I got the car story
At the Tokyo American Club bulletin board a Ford Taurus with a one-year fully paid lease was won by a member. He was selling this lease, which I bought for 500,000 yen. I got a frickin deal and it led to a wonderful relationship with Ford Motor Company. I am still friends with the president Shekhar Chitnis today. Compaq Computer President's name is Vic Murai (not Morai). AIG is not the American Insurance Group. No one can tell me that the BusinessWeek editors were professional in anyway. I allege that the BusinessWeek Editor was on vacation in New York and just printed it without a single review. Finally when she attacks bartering I was flabbergasted. She knew I turned the Budweiser beer trade to a 50,000,000 yen a year account
I do read this story with glee these days. It really is a badge of honor to have to be slushed in a blender in BusinessWeek. NEVER walk away from equity. Find mentors and get the advice needed to survive. I did this.
Oh yea, Terry Lloyd? What a joke. (don't feel this way anymore sic 2018) This is a man that cheats so often he believes himself. Go ask Mark and Mary or any number of cheated parties, including myself
And, Campbell Gunn, you two faced bastard
Why is it that the nicer they dress the more they lie? Campbell and his new dream gaijin Robert Roche lied to steal the final piece of my company that I had
Read on, because when people cheat you can see it, taste it and feel it
The back story is Campbell Gun was getting fired by Hans Tiedemann, so his investment into IAC was left unattended by the Tiedemann fund after that. Mr. Gunn was involved in all the decisions up until the blacklist and like the ACCJ he turned into a fair weather friend
And, he also conspired with Robert Roche to take me out (from my company) on at least 2 occasions
The last time was in cahoots with Hans Tiedemann to get to 51% to wipe me out
Roche invested $250,000 for 10%
But the math in the contract could be read that he gets 33%, because of a misplaced comma
Roche lied and I lost my ownership control. I do have respect for Roche though. He sold half of his firm for 500 million dollars to NTT. He may be a ruthless bastard, but he did run a heck of a business.
CHAPTER 15 - How to Survive a Press Thrashing
After the BusinessWeek article and the continued Blacklist were combined
I needed help
I called the President of Hill & Knowlton and asked my friend how I can survive this press thrashing. He outlined a 10 point 18 month plan
The key points being lay low and do your job and don't be seen in public for 3 months.
Then start attending community and business events and project a positive image.
Start wooing the press to do profile pieces and then give speeches.
Angela Jeffs a reporter for The Japan Times wrote this piece as published December 21, 1997. King of the cold call gets home for XMAS By Angela Jeffs To friends, Brad Bartz's middle name is surely Bravo! As for enemies – and he admits to having more than a few – other "B" words may come to mind
Personally I'm plumping for Bravado, because never having got the wrong side of the guy, I have to admire his guts (or should that be Balls?) Bartz is president of the Internet Access Center in Roppongi, central Tokyo
Until last August, IAC occupied four floors, but after he and partner Jay Smith sold off the magazine Tokyo Journal, there were lots of cutbacks. "We're down to 15 staff and two floors
We use the second for training and as conference space
Here (on the fourth) we provide access to on-line services, customer support, and design Web sites." It has been a year of heavy restructuring and belt-tightening
Publishing TJ was a lot of fun, and Bartz enjoyed being the owner, but really the market has changed beyond recognition
With so many ethnic communities creating their own publications, and English-language market in decline, he feels relieved to move on
"We start 1998 with an open book," he said
"It's going to be a good year, I can feel it. The potential of the Internet is just mind-blowing." Hard to imagine that a few had heard of it before the early ‘90s; I certainly hadn't
But then I'm such a computer illiterate I didn't even know the Internet was originally designed to protect top-secret military information from nuclear attack
Educationalists seized the day, recognizing its potential as a teaching tool, and the rest, as they say, is history in the making. Such academic credentials are giving Bartz more than a few headaches
"We own almost 1 percent of all Japanese domain names – Internet addresses – here, an incredible position
But the rule laid down by the Japan Network Information Center are strangling us
JPNIC, founded at Todai (Tokyo University), believes in containment and control; they want to restrict growth
So I'm filing an action against them for adopting an anticapitalist viewpoint, described as "Unreasonable Restraint of Trade Under the Japan Fair Trade Commission Anti-Monopoly Act'" He takes nothing lightly
Being blacklisted by JPNIC infuriates him, because the organization's conservatism is hurting his business
They're idiots, he says, "and that IS for the record." Bartz is also in the process of suing the American magazine BusinessWeek for malicious libel over an article titled "Saga of a Cyber Debacle," which appeared in the Sept. 1 issue
It may take him years but that's fine by him; he can wait
"It was full of mistakes and misinformation, giving the impression we'd been trashed and were finished
Friends gasped, ‘My God, Brad, what did you do to her (meaning the journalist who wrote it)? She sure put the boot in.' Quite frankly, she and BW can go to hell." Asked if he was always so baldly contentious, he shrugged
(Not that he is bald; far from it
He wears suits and aristocratic ringlets to the manner born.) Born in Los Angeles (his father was in the aerospace industry, his Mother a practicing artist), young Brad was in business by 14
If, there were things he wanted to do, he had to finance them, and boy, was he ambitious
"I had expensive tastes – surfing, water skiing, cliff golfing." Excuse me? "Cliff golfing … we used to steal golf balls, hang out on the cliff tops, down a few beers and drive out over the ocean." He began selling radio ads over the phone, then when a huge storm struck California, used his father's truck and chain saw to clear the neighborhood of fallen trees
Every time he posted 1,000 fliers, he got $2,000 of business; it was a great formula
Soon he had 50 clients a week and a crew of eight, landscaping, weeding and mowing lawns. When he was 18, he got talking with his ex-Vietnam veteran partner about teaching the blind how to sell on the phone
The result: a nonprofit organization doing just that
"Selling is my big thing. Call me the Cold Call King. I can tell within 30 secs whether I'm going to make a sale or not; thousands know my voice
Mind you, selling Web sites is a different matter – six-eight week process and a lot of education, trying to offer solutions to individual problems and needs." At university he took a Japanese course, because a) "I was curious about Japanese business and management; we were hearing such great stories coming out of Tokyo about all the money to be made," and b) "to be completely frank, I like the women." Coming to Japan for a month in 1989, in part to study rehabilitation techniques for the visually impaired as part of his degree, he met his wife, Tomoko, on the plane; she was sitting next to him. (Now she sits just across the way from his computer, each with pics of their two children of their desks.) He was also waiting for official vendorization certification to come from the Department of Rehabilitation in the States, checking every day with his partner to see whether it had come through
But it never arrived
Rather, it did, but by the time Bartz found out, he had already mentally moved on; Japan was more interesting. Initially he home-stayed
But when his host learned that he planned to stay, he booted him out; with three daughters around Bartz's age, he was taking no chances
"The girls thought didn't like living there; that's why I left
When I told the real reason they were amazed
How could I NOT like living there, I told them; Jesus, I even got my underpants pressed." It was all too easy to drop into teaching, which he tackled in familiar maverick style, but neatly, in a suit
He told his students to forget the textbooks and grammar; he was going to teach them to communicate through sales pitches
He also started hawking U.S. products around: first his mother's serigraphs; then an uncle's patio umbrellas
At one time, he was handling more than 20 items, from honey on a stick to turkey jerkey for dogs. When his landlord in Shin-Koiwa let slip that a neighbor was from the States, had an MBA from Harvard, Bartz hot-footed round, introduced himself and suggested they team up
His and Smith's first business plan was a bike-finding device
Great idea for China, I noted
Great idea for Japan, he admonished
They were a fair way along with that project when Smith discovered the Internet
"He came in one day and said, ‘Brad, this is it! This is the future!'" First they established IAC out in Chiba, then crossed the city to Aoyama, and finally came to rest (twice) in Roppongi. The aim has always been to provide on-line information services to customers in North America and Asia: the goal, to develop creative solutions to solve on-line market problems and help clients tap into the limitless resources of the world's largest computer network
By late '92 they were focusing on retrieval software
Now Bartz, as representative director, concentrates on Web site and Internet transactions. IAC will put you on-line for 30,000 yen a year, inclusive of Internet and email services. "We offer the best choice in Tokyo, Yokohama and also Osaka," he said without missing a beat
"We offer a flat rate for all you can eat with a same-day setup
I can think of no better Christmas present than e-mail at Japan's No. 1 address: email@example.com." Customer support is tough, "because it can get real personal." He likens selling on-line services to selling heroin, in that both are addictive
He has had women screaming down the phone, "What have you done to my husband? He's obsessed," and clients who ring to say they haven't slept for three days
To which he can only say, cool it! Basically he's taking lessons from 1997, and will only grow with the cash flow. "We want to focus, grow steadily and nicely mature
I'd like another baby, but guess that's up to Tomoko
The important thing is to able to look at myself from the outside and laugh
Life's a fantasy, a sport." The man whose own e-mail address reads firstname.lastname@example.org (which just about says it all) takes each day as the sun rises. A phone call came through and he began to look less pragmatic; something was cooking. No, better than that, a deal was being served: hanko permitting, IAC will soon be selling insurance services on-line. "Great," he enthused, once more king of the castle, and calling for champagne
"Now we can (afford to) go home for Christmas." ----- End Japan Times article by Angela Jeffs -----
I jumped the shark a little on the public speaking events and arrange to give a talk at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Tokyo on February 17, 1998
This was called a February Dinner Meeting: "How to Survive A Press Thrashing Shaken and Stirred
Featuring Brad Bartz, President of Internet Access Center (IAC) K.K.
Brad Bartz, President of Internet Access Center K.K., is no stranger to the FCC or to Japan
Join us for our February Dinner Meeting, where you'll get the chance to know this dynamic and personable speaker
Bartz will discuss his interview with BusinessWeek and what he says was a disparaging article in its September 1, 1997 issue
His speech, "How to Survive a Press Thrashing," presents his perspective and helps to balance the story that was published by the magazine
Known for his casual, forthright and informal speaking style
Bartz will entertain, as well as teach us ways to handle the press.
A holder of a degree in Business Administration for Marketing from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, Bartz has been a resident of Japan for the past eight years, during which he's operated several of his own businesses.
Fees: 4,000 yen for members and 6,000 yen for non-members."
The room was packed, 70+ attendees
The who's who of Tokyo was in that room.
I gave a smashing speech that basically outlined what Hill & Knowlton taught me, knowledge. As I have written, I own the stage when I speak.
Right when I finished Mr. Bernard Kershner the former Bureau Chief of BusinessWeek Japan stood up and said, "Brad, I just want it on the record that I had nothing to do with this article."
I said thank you and felt a wind of vindication when he said that
It was a public mea culpa that what BusinessWeek published was with intent to cause harm instead of reporting. Tanya Clark raised her hand
I ignore her
Many other folks asked great questions and Tanya kept raising her hand
I ignore her
My stage, my rules
I can see she is getting upset, in fact she caused a storm at the beginning of the speech by refusing to pay for her seat and dinner
I found that to be quite telling
Finally she grabs the mike and starts to speak. I interrupt her and say, "My lawyer says I should not speak to you." And with that she stormed out the room
The crowd let out a yelp and applause
CHAPTER 16 - The Jmail Phoenix Brad was back, but the cash flow was not.
The last lunch before Jay Smith left Japan we decided to launch a free email service using our domain name collection and Jmail was born.
I assigned Matt Ghali to work with Netwinsite but he could not get it working. It frustrated him and me even more. Then Matt did his root password bullshit and he was gone. Now all the programming came back to me. It was not just getting the email server working it was getting the Japanese language to not turn into ‘mojibake' (garbage characters). This was very hard work and required non-stop effort and trial-and-error.
We got it working on one of our donated Sparc 5 servers from Sun Microsystems.
Our system was cool. You could signup at any of our 100+ .co.jp domain names. We felt pretty good when Nishida-san and I went to Shimoda to write the business plan for Jmail.
Nishida had joined the company on the day that I had to tell all of the staff that I could not pay them that week. Just at the very start of the fall. He was hooked from that day.
Logical people would have run like hell, but Nishida saw our continued spirit and direction. We worked hard and partied hard at the Ernest House hotel in Shimoda. This 20 bed location was spitting distance to a great beach and had a cool bar on the front lawn.
The lobby was filled with hi-end Apple computers which became our workstations for the 3 weeks we stayed here.
We did not have to pay much to stay as the owner loved Nishida and our internet history and spirit. Thank you so much Ernie! We headed back to Tokyo in mid-April with a compelling and beautifully formatted business plan. Our spirits were high as we and Paul Montgomery, Desimone our accountant, Tomoko my wife and partner, myself and Nishida agreed to launch Jmail on May 1, 1998.
We also agreed to momove the server to California because Japan Telecom terminated our deal so hosting was gone.
I got a referral to Softaware hosting in Marina Del Rey, California.
We packed up the Sparc 5 Jmail server and wrapped in duct tape to hold it together.
I installed the computer on a shared hosting rack and needed to get help. The Softaware folks referred me to Burzin Engineer who joined our team and has become a lifelong friend. Meeting Burzin was memorable. We set to meet at a nice restaurant in Marina Del Rey.
Since the blacklist started I stopped cutting my hair which had now grown to the small of my back in length with long curls.
I arrived in a pair Levi's that were so full of holes that looked like they might fall apart.
Burzin was used to California internet hippies so he was not shocked at all. I hired Burzin at $75 an hour and he got Jmail up and running and hosted at Softaware.
I flew back to Japan just prior to our launch on May 1. Bing, ping and ding! The first day we got 10 Jmail users.
The victory of this new business was not lost on everyone in the office that day. We were proud.
We continued our work and we now started intense brainstorming on how to grow users. The second day it was 20 new users and this trend continued.
We kept getting a jolt every time a new user signed up. Paul was a madman! We came into the office the next day and he had turned an old Mac computer into a birdcage.
He programmed a webcam website that allowed the world to teach our bird to talk.
Little Blue became an internet sensation!
MacFan magazine picked up the story and then we had thousands of visitors a day and many just typing the most obnoxious things to our bird.
Little Blue sparked the kuchi-komi (word-of-mouth) for Jmail and we exploded. We no longer cared about marketing, we only focused on our software and servers.
Mike Fink came over to my 4 bedroom home in Togoshi Ginza. This old wood Japanese house had no insulation and was almost windy enough to fly a kite inside.
Even so, I loved this place. It was cheap and in a great neighborhood.
We were eating pizza, drinking beer and watching a movie.
In the background my home office would make a beeeeep sound. I smiled every time it did. Mike finally asked, "Brad what the hell is that sound?"
I told Mike that each beep was a new Jmail user.
He shook his head and said no way dude!
I grabbed him and said come take a look as we walked out the kitchen and up a ½ flight of stairs to the office.
On the screen was a real-time feed of the signup process. Ping, bing, ping, bing. Again and again a new user wer signing up.
10 folks just as Mike stood there in suspended animation.
Then we celebrated the night away.
Now we were adding 50 new users a day and still climbing faster. Our business plan from Shimoda was good and now that we had growth we were ready to seek investment.
But, the doors were all closed. That blacklist and our subsequent fall still harmed our abilities to go the next step.
Plus, we had 1.5 million dollars in debt that we carried as we started Jmail with no money.
Asahi Evening News Monday, July 6, 1998 Web-based E-mail offers snazzy addresses By John DeBellis
E-mail addresses, those ubiquitous cyber distinctions, are no longer just functional gobbledygook.
Thanks to Jmail, an E-mail service of Tokyobased Internet service provider, Internet Access Center (IAC), E-mail address have become a vanity affair.
"You can choose a name that fits you and be whoever you want to be –on-line," said Brad Bartz, IAC's president, who started the service May 1.
Jmail is a free, bilingual E-mail service open to anyone with access to the Internet and a Web browser.
Users simply log on to the Jmail Web site, enter a user name and choose from one of over 130 addresses listed under three categories of fun, business and places.
After the users enters his or her choice, the E-mail system will check to see if the name is available. If it is, users are given a identification number and a password.
Always wanted a Hollywood address? Input your name in front of "@hollywood.co.jp," and if it's available, it's yours for life.
Have you ever wanted to have sumo's highest rank of yokozuna? Now you can, without ever donning a mawashi or sumo belt, by slapping your name in front of "@yokozuna.co.jp" and you will never lose your title.
"Many people have three or four E-mail addresses," Bartz said. "Convenience is one reason.
Another is that many users find it useful to focus discussion on the Internet to a specific address."
Bartz is tapping into a growing trend on the Internet known as Web-based E-mail. Web-based E-mail allows Internet users to use their Web browser to create universal E-mail address that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
No special software other than the browser is needed. Web-based E-mail grew out of the need to overcome the limitations of a single E-mail address, which is, generally, not very portable. For example, an Internet user with an E-mail address at work is not able to access his or her messages while at home or on the road without remote access.
"Web-based E-mail is particularly attractive in Japan," Bartz said, "Most Internet users get their one-and-only E-mail address from their company," and that usually means sharing a single E-mail address. The sharing often continues at home where "more than 95 percent of the estimated 3 million PCs in Japanese households are known as "Daddy's PCs," according to Hidemaru Sato, the president of America Online (AOL) Japan.
"Family members have to share the unit and that means less privacy – unless they have an account on AOL." AOL users have long had an advantage over users who connect to the Internet through Internet service providers – until free Web-based Email his computer screens. For years, AOL users have been able to create up to five user names to use in front of the "@aol.com" address, all included in the cost of a single annual membership.
Web-based E-mail gives users that same flexibility. Although Webbased E-mail has been around for several years, it jumped in popularity after software giant Microsoft Corp. purchased database company Hotmail in December 1997 for an estimated $450 million (63.9 billion yen). It now has an estimated 15 million users.
According to Bartz, in mid-June the number of Jmail users topped 2,000 with little advertising. Once planned on-line and partner ad campaigns get under way this summer, IAC expects the number of users to increase by roughly 150,000 per month by May of next year. We want to grow to over 1 million users in the first year the system is in use," Bartz said. I believe the statistical trend in Web-based E-mail is going up and that Jmail can reach it." Bartz' confidence is no surprise. There are now an estimated 10 million Internet users in Japan, a figure that many expect to increase to 20 million by the end of the century. "So far we are way above our expectations," said Bartz, who is known as email@example.com on the Web site. He is also known as firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Making new E-mail addresses is a great sport," he said. Brad Bartz' Jmail service can be found at http://www.jmail.co.jp/ Another free Web-based E-mail site called Robotmaill, which is available only in Japanese, can be found at http://www.robotmail.co.jp/ ----End Asahi Evening News Article --- That one was fun to type. We did not reach 1 million, but we got close at 960,000 and by 2002 growing by 6,000 new users each and every day.
It was the middle of August and just the hottest day of the year. I told Nishida that I wanted to take the Internet Surf Shop surfboard and give it to the Chairman of the biggest venture capital fund in Japan. He said right on! We lugged the board from the ledge where it sat since our collapse and we cleaned her up and wiped her down. Did I say it was hot? Oh yea, 100 % humidity.
We grabbed the board at either end. I was in a business suit and Nishida was casual. It did not take long for both of us to break into a sweat and start complaining about how heavy this balsa wood surfboard was. The walk was not long, 15 minutes or so, but we were drenched. The Akasaka Twin Towers were a power center. We needed to get to the top 35th floor and had to take the workers elevator.
As we approached the double wide clear glass entryway that were open, the receptionist saw us and our surfboard and she shut the doors.
We pressed the intercom and explained that his was a present for the Chairman, but she would not open the door.
Nishida and I laughed at each other. We then noticed that a stream of suits were coming out of the office from a side door.
We left the front entrance and approached the hallway exit.
We put the surfboard along the floor and propped our business plan package next to it and left. We left the building and felt a sense of excitement and relief. We laughed like hell. We got back the office and Ms. Desimone handed me a message from the office we just visited.
I called the receptionist asked what the surfboard was about and I answered, "It's never too late to learn how to surf." And I said good bye. This same phone call took place every day for the next six weeks. At first it was amusing, but then it did break my heart that this little gal, the receptionist was stuck with us. Finally I said, "I will come right now and pick it up." It was even hotter this day than when we first dropped the surfboard off. We went up the regular elevator to the 35th floor and walked over the double glass door entrance.
We did not even have to push the button for her to immediately open the door for us.
She ran from behind her desk and said thank you very much as she bowed very low. We profusely apologized to her and picked up the Internet Surf Shop Surfboard.
We lugged the board down the service elevator and out the front door of the building.
Nishida and I were dead tired, hot, sweating and the surfboard was so heavy. We huffed and we puffed and we could not … (oh wait second different story).
I looked at Nishida and said, "Hey! This is ATT Japan's Headquarters, let's give Darryl Green the President the surfboard!" Nishida immediately agreed and we proceeded up to the 7th floor of the building next door. We go to receptionist and ask for Darryl, but he is not in. We then told her the surfboard was a present and we left it by the elevator. We left the second Ark Mori Tower building and bust out laughing.
Darryl called me the next day and asked, "Brad, what the heck is this surfboard?" I answered with a question, "You do own an SUV don't you?" He said, "How did you know that?" I answered that he was a big guy and it was logical. He laughed and said, "Thanks for the surfboard Brad." (Note: I am offering a reward to find this surf board… Green is now the president of Manpower in the states.) Back at the Jmail office the team laughed real hard at our exploits and that was the motivation we needed to continue our efforts to grow Jmail. We were still in our day to day marketing brainstorms.
And the daily new user rate just kept increasing. May averaged 25 new users per day, June was 50 and it just kept growing. Soon our concerns were about hardware and keeping the service up and running. All focus on user growth marketing stopped and we ramped up our technology.
Campbell Gunn was surprised by the call. I was able to tell him the story of recovery and the phoenix of Jmail. I had introduced Campbell to Robert Roche, a very successful American entrepreneur in Japan. Robert made a fortune when he sold his Japan TV shopping business to NTT for 500 million dollars.
I have great respect for Robert. I negotiated to sell Robert 10% of Jmail for $250,000 investment that we used for technology upgrades.
Our technology upgrade really sped up our email service and users responded by signing up at an even faster rate.
Still, no advertiser would break the JPNIC blacklist. We continued to make websites for others to eat while we expanded Jmail. We worked with Burzin to also offer free websites with each email address. We had the tools and this service quickly got popular and expanded our reach more.
My hair was long, flowing, curly and when I used the right conditioner they indeed looked like the aristocratic ringlets as Ms. Jeffs described.
My sister was getting married October 1998 and I called her and asked what she wanted for a present. She said, to my complete horror, "Cut your hair." I was so disappointed but I complied with her wedding wishes. My local barber was so scared that it took an hour to convince him to cut it off. It may sound silly, but I lost my power that day. After the wedding, I told Tomoko that she and the kids would stay with my mom and folks in California. I simply could not feed them anymore. I would return to Tokyo alone to pay all of our 1.5 million dollars due to creditors.
I would fly to LA every 2 months or so and after a while lived in a permanent state of jet lag. Nishida moved into the Togoshi Ginza home and together we continued to build Jmail and push our business forward. Since it was no use to call on companies to buy advertising we spent all of our time focused on users.
By summer of 1999 we had 150,000 free email users at Jmail and were adding many more every day. Campbell Gun started bragging to Hans Tiedemann that got him jealous and he flew to Tokyo. We met at a fancy pants hotel in Tokyo. The waterfalls are what I remember most. We had a colorful meeting that ended in this exchange." Hans Tiedemann said, "Brad, Stop acting like a rock star." I quipped, "I am a rock star and that is why you are investing another 3 million dollars." Hans then conceded that I was right.
This new investment round would officially take control of the company from me.
It is the experience of what happened next that may indeed be some of the most important business lessons of my life and also a source of great pride.
CHAPTER 17 – Pulp Fiction and the Cleanup Guy
Harvey Keitel as known from the 1994 Pulp Fiction movie walked into my offices in Roppongi and introduced himself. "My name is Michele Mertens and Hans Tiedemann hired me to clean up your mess," this identical demeanor Keitel look alike said.
I welcomed this little man as the new investment from Hans Tiedemann meant I was getting a salary again. The first time for me get a regular paycheck since late 1996.
I also knew that the 1.5 million dollars of debt was about to be cleared.
I was on cloud 9. "Brad, I closed down Pan-am Airlines," boasted Mr. Mertens. "You will follow everything I say and there will be no discussion." "Yes sir", I said. The very methodical process that then occurred is ingrained in my brain. He quickly hired a new accountant and an accounting firm. The steps to redemption start with the books.
Ding…. Ding… Ding… "Brad, what is that noise?" Ask Mertens. "Oh that, that is new users at Jmail. Come on and check it out," I gleamed. Mertens could not believe it. The Dings were fast and often and kept increasing everyday he was there. I could see he was hooked and his tone to me changed that very moment. From then on we worked as a team to fix the balance sheet, pay the creditors and increase Jmail growth. IBM was the biggest creditor. $150,000 was due. I told Merten's don't pay them anything they breached the contract and limited our ability to make money from the project. I then told him about the last meeting with IBM on the subject.
Just months before Hans Tiedemann "came to the rescue" IBM demanded a meeting. They came to my offices on our half of the 2nd floor of our Roppongi Building. It was Shinya Touda, the eccentric engineer, a senior IBM attorney and a junior attorney.
I welcomed them into the meeting and we started talking in English and the young attorney belted out, "This is Japan we MUST speak Japanese." I said, "This is my office and we will speak English or you can get the fuck out." The senior attorney winked at me as I put this punk in his place.
The young attorney then said, "We are going to sue you." I pulled out my book of business cards from IBM and I stared down this young attorney and said, "That is fine, but please note I will be deposing each and every one of these IBM employees." As we flipped through the book I would point to random names and explain that they were involved. In total 55 IBM employees were my list for depositions. The young attorney is starting to turn red and look visibly upset. He then asked who my attorney was. I said, "None, I am going to represent myself." The young attorney said, "You can't do that!" I then wrote down a number on a piece of paper and handed it to him as I said, "This is the number for the Tokyo Courts, shall we call them now so you can tell them that I cannot defend myself." The senior IBM attorney then defused the situation and they left.
Courts used to scare me, now I have learned that going to court is a necessary part of business. The big stupid lawyers use massive discovery to bog you down, but I get to do the same thing. So, I wrote computer program to process court issues.
My lawyers only check my work, they do not draft for me. Mertens giggled at the IBM story, but said he will go pay them. I did not protest as his word was god. Mertens came in one day and he was so pissed at me. Although I did follow his orders, one creditor, Sezax, a printer for Tokyo Journal Magazine, was especially nice to me during our ride thru the valley of death.
I told this printer that no matter what Mertens says do not take less than the $50,000 we owe you.
Every other creditor took 10 cents on the dollar or less. Even IBM got pants. Again, Mertens was so pissed, but then a smile broke on this face when he said these most memorable words to me, "Brad, I have been restructuring companies for 20 years.
And this is the very first time that every single creditor said 'please so hello to Brad, we really like him.'" I beamed. Really one of the proudest moments in my life was to know that I was able to keep the respect of these creditors. I told them time and again that I would not leave Japan until they got paid. I was not bullshitting, I knew I would never leave Japan with debt.
Jmail and our team were on a roll again. Mertens allowed us to bring our software development partners from New Zealand for a week to help further improve Jmail.
It was so rewarding to spend time with Ralph Pugmire and his family.
Nishida guided us to a great temple in Kamakura that had the ability to surprise you at every corner leading up to the most amazing secret garden and view. It still titillates my senses just writing about it.
1999 was fun, rebuilding and full of promise. The rules changed at JPNIC and a new domain called .jp was made. One could own as many as you like. Our team was so excited. Our .co.jp collection was the bomb and getting the .jp version of each of them motivated our team again. We even started prepping our software and servers to offer up for free email domains.
Then JPNIC reared its ugly head again. Our application for the .jp domains were denied en masse. We called our lawyer and he could not get them to budge. The ACCJ said fuck off. The US Embassy wrote a beautiful letter of support but that did not work either.
We got denied and that would lead to the end of my career at Jmail. The last months of 1999 turned into hell again. Losing this fight with JPNIC again and their blacklist finally took me mentally out of the game. All the debt was paid and I kept my promise.
I still held out hope, but again it was over for me. On Thursday February 16, 2000 Hans Tiedemann called and said I could go home. I left the next Tuesday with the shirt on my back, debt free, but I did not tell anyone.
I just disappeared.
Japan.co.jp: Hardhat Required
Available on Amazon. Buy Here
If you enjoyed the read and want me to write more please buy a copy of the book or paypal me a couple of bucks to Brad@Bartz.com.
Future is Solar, so my collection is for sale
The Brad Bartz Domain Collection is for Sale
Make An offer for all or one at a time
1. You have to have a Japanese Company and it can only own one .co.jp domain.
2. You can buy the US Delaware Corporation that owns its domain. Budget extra for this step if you can't meet Rule #1.
3. I will accept only one fair offer. No Negotiations. Please take your time.
(for example, Sushi.co.jp is worth a lot of money, at least 5 million yen.)
The .COM collection goes back to 1996. .COM can be sold to anyone, anywhere.
Will trade for Sailboat 20m+ in great condition.
Platforms of Totality with Amtrak and Via Rail:|
Train Platforms in 100% Total Eclipse on April 8, 2024
Authored by Mr. Bradley Lawrence Bartz
Bradley L. Bartz v. Public Utitlies Commission of the State of California: