BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE: APRIL 3, 2000 ISSUE

International -- Readers Report

Net Builders Will Be a Boon to Japan (int'l edition)

After reading ''Japan's Net builders'' (Cover Story, Asian Edition, Mar. 6), I have strengthened my belief that abundant fresh human resources are the most important factor for a nation's economy.

To incubate newly founded companies has been one of the critical steps in Japan's economic policy. Since the end of the 1980s, the number of new companies has been smaller than the number of bankrupted ones in Japan. In contrast, in the U.S., the volume of newly evolved companies has been greater than that of those that failed. It was five years ago that the economic bailout plan made brief progress in Japan's over-the-counter stock market. Of course, the market had some drawbacks, and there was a shortage of talented people capable of setting up new companies. Furthermore, long periods of recession have provided an atrocious environment to spawn new businesses.

But recently, the situation has changed. Many talented young people have entered or are likely to enter new business fields. Many of them are the thirtysomething sons and daughters of Japan's baby boomers. They quit companies, such as U.S. investment banks that pay them huge salaries, and created new information-related companies or transferred to younger outfits. Furthermore, a lot of new intellectual graduates, such as alumni from the Shonan-Fujisawa campus of Keio University, are choosing such careers rather than careers in leading Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi Group.

They are well qualified and ambitious. It is true that they are accustomed not to the Japanese way of business but rather to the global or American fashion. The point is, as in the U.S., that aggressive, young, and talented people have come to start up new businesses by themselves. As you mentioned, Japan has a long history of venture culture. Sony was originally a venture company, established just after World War II. That was why Masayoshi Son talked about the Meiji Revolution, in which lower-level soldiers who had a wide range of modern Western knowledge constructed a new framework for Japan. Japan's new Net builders can change this country's style as well.

Suzuki Kosuke
Tokyo



A Thumbprint I.D. Could Cost Some Thumbs (int'l edition)

Given the tendency of Western societies to become more violent as the years go by, we should think twice before accepting thumbprint ID devices for widespread use (''Call my agent,'' Design, Mar. 13). Even today, there are plenty of hoodlums who would cheerfully cut off a thumb in order to steal a car or raid an ATM.

David Hoffman
Jerusalem



The Many Ways CompUSA Stumbles (int'l edition)

If the Slims believe that cutting expenses is the key to improving CompUSA's value, their due diligence is wanting (''Slim's new world,'' Cover Story, Latin American Edition, Feb. 21). CompUSA's problem is more fundamental. It fails to realize that it is engaged in information technology. Its sales staff, at least locally, is uninformed about product function and capability, does not know how to operate new products, is too impatient to remain with a customer who may be undecided between one item vs. another, and is incapable of helping that customer make an intelligent choice. Oh, yes, and none of the above occurs unless a salesperson materializes, not at all an attainable result within reasonable expectation.

Compared with brick-and-mortar competitors, CompUSA is rarely the best price. And the product warranty is everywhere the same--any redress or product problem having to be resolved with the manufacturer. So they offer no customer service benefit to attract patronage. All of the above relates to direct personal experience over several years with attempts to purchase at CompUSA thwarted by the combination of poor sales standards and no price advantage, price being the lesser condition.

In short, the company's employees have no sense of mission, nor an understanding of the niche they should fulfill nor their customers' needs for support. Thus, the remaining reason for shopping there becomes price, and they don't win that one either.

Herbert Alan Leeds
President
Leeds Business Counseling Inc.
Miami





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LETTERS:
Net Builders Will Be a Boon to Japan (int'l edition)

A Thumbprint I.D. Could Cost Some Thumbs (int'l edition)

The Many Ways CompUSA Stumbles (int'l edition)

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