To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, June 28, 1997

Global trade gets wired

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Internet attracted 50 million users quicker than any other new medium, but Irving Wladawski-Berger, general manager of IBM's Internet division, says growing to 100 million won't be easy.

"People ask me, 'But Irving, isn't that going to be difficult?' I say, "Yes. We're trying to connect the whole world. It's going to be hard. It's going to be like running a triathlon. Your knees are going to hurt ... but when you're done, you'll be a better person.' "

Net nerds gathered at the Business OnLine 97 conference meeting at the Sheraton Palace heard that one company doing big business online is the company that makes software that makes the World Wide Web work. "We might not be a mass market yet," says Jim Barksdale, Netscape CEO, "but with $1 billion in sales last year we're in a serious market."

It must be serious, Barksdale points out, because at their national conference, also meeting in the city last week, the nation's big city mayors were proposing to tax it.

But taxing online commerce isn't the way to go. Jim Johnson, head of the USA delegation to the G7 Electronic Commerce Policy Group, says Internet trade should happen in a global duty-free zone that's facilitated by government, not regulated by it.

How do you make it happen? Barksdale says, "You want to keep as much wood as possible behind the arrowhead that's pointed at where you want to go."

Nothing to it, Irving.

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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