BizTone.Com gets US$5.5m in funding

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Malaysian-based Java developer has received its largest venture capital injection to date–US$5.5 million led by the Asia Java Fund, global investment firm ING-Barings, and angel investors in US and Asia.

The second round of investment brings total investment to about US$8 million, says chief executive Darryl Carlton whose company was among the first recipients of the Sun Microsystems-founded Asia Java Fund announced last week.

“The funding is an important recognition that’s business model of ‘renting software’ over the Net is the new wave of the future. It will be instrumental for our market entry,” said Carlton, who confirmed that a listing on Nasdaq is on schedule for next year.

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Rent-An-App Player Biztone.Com Clinches $5.5m Venture Cap

By Julian Matthews

Rent-an-app pioneer Inc has closed a $5.5 million investment round led by the Asia Java Fund, global investment firm ING-Barings and several angel investors.

The venture capital injection was a resounding endorsement for the Java-based developer which has its origins in Malaysia and is pushing the concept of delivering Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software as a service over the Internet.

“The advantage of BizTone is that it’s just like electricity or water, available to your business all the time and you simply pay for what you use on a transaction basis, while someone else makes sure you get the service around the clock,” said Darryl Carlton, BizTone’s chief executive officer.

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Portalizing Asia

By Julian Matthews

A quiet revolution is brewing on the Internet portal-playing landscape in Asia.

Even as Yahoo!, Microsoft’s MSN and Lycos move in to colonize the masses, Asian players are taking counter-offensive measures.

The payoffs are obvious. Portals are proven big traffic generators, and Asia is the one of the fastest-growing Internet markets. Couple this with the potential to direct that traffic onto gold-lined e-commerce pathways and the war has just begun.

The battle cry seems to be: “Whatever Yahoo! can do, we can do better.” In Malaysia, a new player has entered the fray while others have revamped and expanded their portal offerings.
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Packard Bell NEC and NEC to merge sales outside Japan

By Julian Matthews

PENANG–Packard Bell NEC Asia Pacific and NEC will consolidate its desktop PC, notebook and server businesses, outside Japan, under a single entity by the year 2000.

“Managing and operating from the same organization gives certain advantages. Now, we are able to serve corporate customers worldwide under one umbrella. All products and services will be unified,” said Wim Giezenaar, vice president and managing director of Packard Bell NEC Asia Pacific in a statement.

Packard Bell NEC and NEC sales offices in the region operated independently of each other previously.

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NEC, Packard Bell NEC To Unify Asia Pacific Operations

By Julian Matthews

NEC Computers International BV, a newly named company to push the NEC and Packard Bell brands globally outside of Japan and China, will merge all its Asia Pacific operations by the year 2000.

“The PC and server business will gradually be integrated into one organization starting from this year. This current development has begun in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand offices, to be followed by operations in Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong,” said Wim Giezenaar, vice president and managing director of Packard Bell NEC, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Giezenaar said, however, that NEC subsidiaries will continue its direct systems integration business in the region, which includes PCs and servers.
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Packard Bell NEC will not shut down Asia Pacific plant

by Julian Matthews

PENANG–Packard Bell NEC will not shut down its Asia Pacific plant in Penang nor layoff any of its staff there or in sales offices in Middle East, Australia or New Zealand.

Company spokesperson Grace Lau confirmed this in a response to CNET Asia following the announcement of drastic restructuring of its US unit with 80 percent staff cuts and withdrawal of the Packard Bell brand from retail shelves.

“There are no cuts in Asia Pacific that we are aware of at this moment,” said Lau, who said the company in fact just advertised for new engineers last month.

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A fully-networked school rises in rural Malaysia

By Julian Matthews

LUMUT, Perak–If a school can be described as four walls with the future in it, then the Dindings National-Type Secondary School in rural Perak has confirmed its place in the new millennium.

Situated 95km from the nearest city Ipoh, the school is mostly made up of wooden buildings and wedged between a palm oil estate and a coconut plantation.

But running under the floors and in conduit piping along the corridors are Cat-5 networking cables inter-linking 70 PCs in the classrooms, the library, the staff room, the administration office, the science labs and computer labs. Every room has RJ-45 connectors that gives it instant access to the Internet on a 64Kbps leased line.

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US Thin-Film Supplier Shifts Production Plants

One of the world’s largest independent supplier of thin-film media for computer hard disk drives, Komag Inc, is shifting its large-scale production in the US to Malaysia in the last quarter of this year.

The move is in line with efforts to bring down costs and stimulate new applications in the troubled data storage industry.

“This shift of production volume into Malaysia will result in lower unit production costs and generate substantial cash savings in future,” said Komag’s Malaysian-born president and chief executive Tan Thian Hoo.

Under the accelerated phase down plan, Komag is expected to close down two plants in San Jose, and a third plant in Santa Clara acquired from Western Digital Corp in April.

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