TechnologyNet Moves to Connect India to World

SAN FRANCISCO (03/31/2000) - U.S. IT industry information portal company TechnologyNet Inc. is making its first move into the Indian marketplace via an alliance with the country's largest ISP (Internet service provider).

TechnologyNet is set to finalize similar agreements in Brazil and China over the next 30 to 60 days, according to the head of the U.S. company.

"We're connecting the (IT) industry with itself worldwide," Alan Weinberger, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of TechnologyNet, said in a phone interview yesterday. For example, using TechnologyNet's Web portal, a U.S. firm looking to develop software will be able to find experts in India, while an Indian software company seeking distributors around the world could also find such information via the portal, he said. The U.S. company's portal includes Web-based electronic commerce and advanced IT search engines.

TechnologyNet signed an agreement last week with Indian ISP Satyam Infoway Ltd. as the U.S. company's way to link its site more fully with Indian companies, Weinberger said. The portal specialist has identified India, Brazil, China and Israel as the four countries where it's most keen to ramp up its coverage. Last month, TechnologyNet signed a deal with Kalanit PC Software Center Ltd., Israel's largest computer distributor, so agreements with major Brazilian and Chinese companies are the U.S. vendor's next task.

As well as listing information from Satyam about Indian IT firms on TechnologyNet's portal, the two companies also agreed to launch a technology channel on Satyamonline.com to provide a forum for buying and supplying of IT solutions. Both services should be up and running within the next two months, Weinberger said.

"Both companies will put in at least US$1 million on marketing activities, and we'll have a revenue split from joint venture activities on our sites," Weinberger said.

Although the U.S. company's main approach to linking the IT industry around the world is via one English-language portal, Weinberger added that, together with its partners, TechnologyNet is planning local-language technology channels -- in Indian languages, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese and Hebrew -- for the four key countries it has identified.

TechnologyNet signed the agreement with Satyam during the course of U.S.

President Bill Clinton's official state visit to India last week. U.S.

Secretary of Commerce William Daley was present at the deal's signing in Hyderabad on March 24. TechnologyNet was a member of a 15-member IT delegation, which also included representatives from Unisys Corp., Oracle Corp. and Healtheon/WebMD Corp.

In Clinton's speech to an audience of 3,000 Indian IT executives last week at the HI-TEC Center in Hyderabad, the U.S. president quipped that at 53, he was "way too old to make any money in information technology." The terms used in technology aren't familiar to him, Clinton said, continuing the joke. "When I was a young man, chips were something you ate, windows were something you washed, disks were part of your spinal column that when you got older often slipped out of place, and semiconductors were frustrated musicians who wished they were leading orchestras," he said.

On a more serious note, Clinton spoke of the importance of avoiding the so-called digital divide between technology have and have-nots. "For me, the true test of the information revolution is not just the size of the feast it creates, but the number of people who can sit at the table to enjoy it," he said in his speech. A transcript of his remarks is posted at the White House Web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/.

India's IT industry today employs more than 280,000 people and produced software and services revenue worth $4 billion last year, according to recent industry figures quoted by the U.S. president. However, the country still has Third World status. "India accounts for 30 percent of the world's software engineers, but 25 percent of the world's malnourished," Clinton said in his Hyderabad speech.

Weinberger said he was asked a number of times during his visit to India about the issue of H1-B visas -- the visas the U.S. government issues to foreign experts so that they can work legally in the U.S. The ongoing debate is fierce within the U.S. concerning the number of H1-B visas that should be issued, while, outside the U.S., countries like India are worried about a brain drain as local IT graduates leave for the higher wages of the U.S. and never return home.

TechnologyNet, based in Bethseda, Maryland, can be reached at +1-301-654-2600 or via the Internet at http://www.technologynet.com/. Satyam Infoway, based in Chennai, India, can be reached via the Internet at http://www.satyam.net.in/.

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