Ariba goes deeper into Asia

The business-to-business software maker enters into a deal with venture capital firm Softbank, the latest move to strengthen its position in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.

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Ariba continues to set its roots in Asia.

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Can the B2B market survive?
Keith Krach, Ariba CEO
The business-to-business software maker said Thursday it has entered into a deal with venture capital firm Softbank, which will take an equity investment in the company's Japanese business unit and will make future investments during the next three years.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The announcement comes on the same day that Ariba's stock fell almost 11 percent as investors dismissed the company's surprisingly positive break-even fourth quarter earnings report amid a wider market downturn.

This is just the latest move by Mountain View, Calif.-based Ariba to strengthen its position in Asia. In April, the company launched business unit Nihon Ariba--which also serves as the company's Japanese headquarters--to target companies building online marketplaces in Japan and the greater Asia-Pacific region.

Nihon Ariba markets Ariba's business-to-business products, including software for online procurement, marketplaces, auctions and reverse auctions, electronic payments, and other services.

As business-to-business companies are increasingly losing the attention--and the checkbooks--of market-weary investors and venture capitalists in the United States, many more companies in the industry are looking for ways to attract a new set of shoppers and investors from overseas, particularly in Asia.

Next month, Ariba's staunch rival Commerce One will host eLink 2000 Hong Kong, a business-to-business conference focusing on the Asian markets.

The move by business-to-business companies into the Asian markets mirrors similar plays by their brethren in the business-to-consumer space, like Priceline.com and eBay, which earlier this year said they would export their services to Asia, hoping to cash in on the expected explosion in Internet use on a continent that is projected to have one of the largest audiences of middle-class consumers.

In its joint venture with Ariba, Softbank has selected the Ariba B2B Commerce Platform for four major strategic projects. The Japanese venture capital firm plans to use the software to develop a private exchange to manage its internal procurement transactions and to create a public marketplace to automate the e-commerce needs of its 450 portfolio companies.

It also plans to establish 10 vertical exchanges in the Japanese market that will serve major Japanese industries and wants to create a network of commerce services specifically designed for the Japanese market.