US Web Designer in Brazilian Joint Venture

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HOUSTON - Houston Interweb Design entered Brazil late last month in a joint venture that will help small businesses design and put up their own Web sites "within 10 minutes."

Interweb specializes in Web design with "SiteBlazer" technology, software development, hosting and data warehousing. It helps Web start-ups with technological expertise and management know-how.

The company has been expanding abroad with operations in Mexico, Panama, Italy and China. A group of Brazilian executives and investors are partners in the new company - Brazilian Interweb Design - with Houston Interweb taking a 30 percent stake.

BID will have a technology development office in Rio de Janeiro and focus its sales efforts from Sao Paulo, a city with 500,000 plus businesses "that should provide a lucrative market for BID's sales teams," a company statement said.

"We're using their knowledge and expertise on local marketing," CFO Lee Magnes said, "and they get our technology so they don't have to reinvent the wheel."

He noted that Brazil is leapfrogging technological backwardness with wireless access, interactive TV and other cutting edge methodologies. "We don't need wires in the ground so we can grow at a quicker pace than in the US or in other stable markets," he said.

"We've only been down there for a month and we're already profitable. The interest in our product SiteBlazer is keen because all we had to do was slide it into Portuguese and it was ready for launch."

In addition to a deal with Telecom Italia for the product the company has a deal with the Chinese government. "SiteBlazer is going well in China," Magnes said. "It gives the government the ability to monitor all content on the Web," he said.

Asked if that didn't help Beijing snoop on its citizens Magnes shrugged and said "the genie is out of the bottle. Even the US has the ability to snoop. But the resources you would have to throw at trying to maintain control over content are too large for anyone to handle."

In the meantime Interweb has teamed up with the Chinese government to put "5,000 years of traditional Chinese medicine online" through a new portal the US company is building for the "State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine."

The portal should be up and running later this summer with about 20 best-selling Chinese products on it. The Chinese think their alternative medicines could fetch from $5 to $100 billion on the US market.

Magnes declined to identify the Brazilian investors in the joint venture but said one of the partners who will act as spokesperson for the company "is a very well known personality in Brazil and should help us capture large market share in a short period of time."

BID has "a couple of acquisitions in the works" and a core staff of about ten people in both sites who are busy hiring local designers and sales people. "Brazil," Magnes said, "clearly is the place to be."

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