E-Mail List Cleaner Goes Global

Active Names, New York, a permission-based e-mail change-of-address service, plans to open data centers in Europe and the Far East and have them operational in the third quarter of the year.

“We've got our engineers working on the data centers right now,” said president David Mimran, “and we are negotiating with potential partners to set up shop in Europe and Asia.

“We're looking for strong partners who can get us into localized markets much faster than we could do it on our own, and we expect to make a decision on whom to choose within the next 30 days,” he said.

Mimran declined to name companies he is talking with, but he said that in Europe “we are looking at the [United Kingdom], Germany, Switzerland or Sweden.” In Asia the choice is between Singapore and Japan.

The global growth of e-mail prompted the 3-year-old company's move abroad. A company announcement quoted e-marketer analyst Jonathan Jackson as saying, “By the end of the year more than half the e-mail boxes in the world will be found outside the U.S.”

As a result, Mimran said, “undeliverable e-mail is a global issue affecting both consumers and businesses.” The model he uses in the United States, he added, can easily be adapted to foreign needs.

“Basically, we copied and adapted the USPS change-of-address services to the e-mail world,” Mimran said. “When you change your home address, you go to the post office and change it. We provide that service for e-mail so that anyone with consumer e-mail lists can keep up with address changes.

“Our clients typically are people like Fingerhut, Amazon, Sony, Cnet or Barnes & Noble. The Wall Street Journal sends e-mail updates and wants to be sure the address is right. We clean up their lists.”

The procedure is permission based. An Amazon buyer, for example, “lets us know that he has changed his e-mail and tells us whether he wants Amazon or some other vendor to know that he has done so. If he doesn't, we won't.”

He noted that European privacy laws are much stiffer than those in the United States and that the staff dealing with foreign databases would be fully cognizant of the legal implications for both consumers and businesses.

“Compliance with all international laws limiting data exchange will be one of our main targets,” Mimran said.

ActiveNames will depend on partner companies to spread word of the service to its customers.

Localization will depend on the chosen venue. “Obviously, if we pick the UK or Singapore, we won't have to change much,” Mimran said. “But if we go to Germany, we will have to localize our services and do the same in Japan.

“As time advances, we will have more local centers, and as e-mail change-of-address gains market share, we will do more localization,” he said.

The service will be available both to the growing number of U.S. companies expanding abroad and to European and Asian companies. Both, Mimran noted, are interested in staying in touch with their best customers.

“We have the ability to target and segment, and the current trend is to customize targeting,” he said.

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