Women.com Forges Japanese Alliance

On the verge of an initial public offering, Women.com announced Wednesday that it has licensed its content to a Japanese women’s site in its first international venture.

The San Mateo, California-based company said that the agreement with Mitsui Comtek Corp., the online arm of an international trading company, calls for its content to be phased into Sankei Living Shimbun’s Living Ladies Community site.

In addition to adding original content to the site, Mitsui Comtek and Sankei Living – the publisher of Japan’s largest free distribution newspaper – will translate Women.com’s content and upload it to Living Ladies Community.

The site is aimed at the women who make up an estimated 21 percent of Japan’s Internet users. That figure is expected to edge closer to 50 percent by 2003, according to a recent government report cited by Women.com in its press statement.

“By combining Sankei Living’s unique local perspective with Women.com’s deep understanding of women, Living Ladies Community offers Japanese women a place on the Internet created and tailored specifically for them,” said Masaaki Miura, CEO of Mitsui Comtek. “Now featuring Women.com’s rich content, it will be an unparalleled site for women on the Internet in Japan.”

Preparing for the Public

Launched in 1995, Women.com has spent its entire existence as a privately-held company that has established some impressive credentials. That will change soon, when the company holds an initial public offering in hopes of raising over $65 million (US$).

This international venture is laying the groundwork for what could be a strong overseas push by Women.com. It certainly has developed the contacts to take it to the next level. After the offering, Women.com will be incorporated into HomeArts.com, a lifestyle site that is owned by the Hearst Corporation’s New Media & Technology division. It will continue to maintain its name, according to a report the company filed with the SEC in May.

Women.com has a pre-existing relationship with the media giant. It hosts the Web sites for 10 of Hearst’s leading magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Good Housekeeping. The content from the magazines are accessible at the Women.com site.

With some four million unique visitors a month scanning 90,000 pages of content across 19 topical channels, Women.com clearly knows how to draw a crowd. It also is adept at drawing advertisers. IBM, Visa, Volvo and Sears are a few of the major supporters.

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