Bowstreet Boosts B2B Software

FRAMINGHAM (03/09/2000) - Users looking to develop business-to-business e-commerce Web sites may be interested in two new products Bow Street Software Inc. announced this week.

The startup in Portsmouth, N.H., is upgrading its flagship product, Bowstreet Business Web Factory 2.0, with enhanced performance, support for Linux and a new name.

The software, previously known as Bowstreet Business Automation Factory, automates the development of business-to-business Web sites, allowing business executives, rather than IT specialists, to update and customize sites for partners and customers.

The software relies on an automation engine that assembles Web sites using XML-based user profiles, templates and software components stored in a directory. Available in the second quarter, Version 2.0 will cost around $250,000.

E-commerce industry analyst Judith Hurwitz applauds the flexibility of Bowstreet's software.

"The software is designed to understand the lack of permanence in business.

Today's partner may or may not be around tomorrow," she says. "In your infrastructure, you need to be prepared to adapt quickly. That's what I like about their architecture."

The flexibility of Business Web Factory is what attracted eFrames.com, a San Francisco Web site that offers digital photography services and sells framed prints. eFrames bought the Bowstreet software a month ago, and the company's technical staff is now rewriting their site to use it. The software was selected because it speeds the process of building online links between eFrames and associated sites such as ecircles.com, photoworks. com and zing.com.

"We can hire HTML programmers to redo our site every time we add a different partner, or we can use this software that allows us to do it automatically," explains eFrames CEO Brian Dunham.

"We plan to have hundreds of partners. . . . We really need something that's scalable. Once you have the templates built, it's a no-brainer to add another partner," he says.

Also in the second quarter, Bowstreet will launch its Business Web Exchange, an online community for companies offering Web services based on Bowstreet's technology. The exchange will feature a free version of Bowstreet's Marketplace Edition software that supports up to 10 users as well as moderated forums for business-to-business Web site developers. The company already has signed up 20 Web service publishers to offer their wares on the exchange, but officials plan to have hundreds of publishers listed eventually.

"With the Business Web Exchange, companies can take their core competencies and put them in a box so that other businesses can find them," explains Steve Chazin, senior product marketing manager at Bowstreet. Examples of services that companies might want to offer on the site include package tracking, insurance quotes and mortgage loan rates, he adds.

The exchange is "a great Trojan horse," Hurwitz says. "In these days, where it's hard to get the attention of the marketplace, companies are finding that being able to give somebody a taste test of your product's features is a good way to allow people to understand what you're doing."

Meanwhile, Bowstreet added several strategic partners, including Interwoven for content management, Netegrity for security and Vitria for enterprise application integration. Last fall, Bowstreet announced support from IBM, Microsoft, Netscape, Sun, Oracle and Novell for its efforts to develop a standard Directory Services Markup Language for e-commerce sites.

Two-year-old Bowstreet has raised $90 million in three rounds of venture capital investments. The firm is led by Frank Moss, former CEO of Tivoli.

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