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Amazon invests in overseas tech specialist

The online retailer says it has taken a minority stake in Basis Technology, a company that helps Net upstarts set up shop overseas.

Amazon.com announced today that it has taken a minority stake in Basis Technology, a company that helps Net upstarts set up shop overseas.

As part of the deal, Amazon chief information officer Rick Dalzell will join Basis' board of directors. The two companies declined to discuss the size of Amazon's investment or what percentage it would take as a result.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Basis works with U.S. Internet companies to modify their Web sites and backend systems as they expand into other countries. Its services include everything from translating text of Web sites to modifying HTML and other software codes to make them compatible with computers and software used in other countries.

"Basis Technology's dedicated development team and pioneering technology ensure a great shopping experience for our customers as we expand into local markets around the globe," Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

An Amazon representative declined to comment on the deal.

The move is only the latest in a three-month buying spree for Amazon. Earlier this month, the online retailer invested $5 million in Greg Manning Auctions, an online auctioneer with operations in Europe, China and the United States. Since December, Amazon has also bought or added to its stakes in Living.com, Audible.com, Drugstore.com, Greenlight.com, Kozmo.com and Ashford.com.

The investment in Basis could portend greater global expansion for Amazon. Already the company operates sites in the United Kingdom and Germany. And in a recent conference call with investors, the company indicated that while it won't open any more distribution centers in the United States this year, it plans to open more overseas.

As part of the deal, Basis Technology will help Amazon develop its Web sites so that they are accessible to "all languages, locales and cultures," Basis chief executive Carl Hoffman said. Amazon's global strategy is a "powerful vision," and Basis wanted to be a part of it, Hoffman said.

"We will be working closely with Amazon to take them into new markets all over the world," he said.

Basis, which helped develop Lycos' Japanese-language site, will continue to work with similar companies, but will not work with any of Amazon's direct competitors, Hoffman said.

According to the company's Web site, Basis specializes in adapting Web sites for users in Japan, Korea and China.