BUSINESS ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB: where "word of keystroke" begins

August 7, 1997 -- Value-added services from ISPs & others

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, August 7, 1997. These sessions are normally scheduled for 12 noon-1 PM Eastern Time (GMT -5 when standard time, GMT -4 when daylight savings time) every Thursday.

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Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggestions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.

Threads (reconstructed after the fact):

Today's participants


asad -- [7 AM, from Pakistan] I am just a new one.

Natalia Nemzer -- [11 AM, from Russia] Hello, Richard and all your friends!
I am Natalia Nemzer from Russia, S.-Petersburg, E-mail: I and my husband have private company rendering services in process engineering and equipment for metal heat treatment in industry. I'm a beginner in Internet work and had only a few time to be acquainted with the today's theme.

Richard Seltzer -- We'll be getting started at 12 noon, which is about five minutes from now. Today we want to focus on value-added Web-hosted services, from ISPs and others.

Laurent Thérond -- (Traditional introduction) My name is Laurent Thérond. I'm French and currently working in Boston with a financial corporation. I'm a Computer and Information Sciences Engineer. I created an IAP/IPP in the south of France before to leave for the United States. My partners still run the business that can be accessed at

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Blair. Amazing. It must be about 1 AM where you are in New Zealand. Glad you could make it. And thanks again for your comments, which we added to last week's transcript.

Blair Anderson -- Thanks for that Richard, its about 4:05am here..just home from a wee jam!! session.

Richard Seltzer -- Blair -- 4 AM -- that deserves a prize. Email me your postal address, and I'll send you a copy of The AltaVista Seach Revolution.

Richard Seltzer -- All -- we're just getting started on a chat about value-added services. Please introduce yourselves as you connect, and let us know about your interests. That will help us get a good discussion going more quickly.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome Rick. Glad you could join us again this week.

Rick van Valkenburg -- Thanks Richard and Hello, all!

Richard Seltzer -- Tom Sonnerson, welcome. Just saw your name on the last of "occupants." Please introduce yourself and let us know your interests. We're talking about value-added Web-hosted services and business models related to those.

Tom Sonnerson -- I run a venture capital firm, TJR Ventures.

Laurent Thérond -- Hi Blair and Rick... Richard: Are we going to talk about electronic payment services or Internet marketing?

Blair Anderson -- I see the "chat" got a mention on the Digital Commerce Soc. of Boston, I guess electronic payment services needs to be on the roster somewhere...

Ed Jaros -- Hello All... Ed Jaros - Just a guy who loves this stuff :-) and helping others understand it as well.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Bill and Ed. Bill, are you back in Paris? (Seems to be a rather international audience this time around, with Russia, New Zealand, and France [if that's where you are today]).

Bill Dunlap -- Richard -- no, I'm not in Paris this summer... am putting together a new venture in Web marketing in the Bay Area (global marketing instead of my former European focus).

Universal Distributing, Inc -- Hello all...better late than not at all...

Richard Seltzer -- Hello, Universal Distributing, sorry it's the end of the hour. I'll be posting the transcript in the next day or two. Check And please feel free to send me email with your followup messages for addition to the transcript (so you can add your two cents, even if you weren't able to contribute live).

Questions from Russia

Natalia Nemzer -- I completely agree with Laurent Therond about the necessity of such service as MCF [Meta Content Framework]. Only one example. I'm a business woman but also a scientific researcher. My narrow speciality - rolls for cold and hot rolling mills. When I made the inquiry about rolls for cold rolling and then received in the answer the full list of restaurants with rock-an-rolls and cold dishes - I felt myself so fooled. And Laurent is right - it was not pleasant. My light-blue dream is to communicate on line with those who investigate heat treatment of rolls. What for? To manufacture top quality rolls - and eventually - to improve our world. Well, and who can help me with it? Richard's idea to be hosted with different providers scattered all over the world on our different needs is very attractive. But there is this damned problem «MONEY IN INTERNET». How can we pay for this services? Don't forget - we are in Russia. We don't want to make WWW site by ourselves. Our provider wants 50$ for making one page and 30$ per month for its maintenance. Should we agree? We have no decision now. Natalia

Richard Seltzer -- Natalia -- Good to hear from you. Glad you could connect.
What time is it now in St. Petersburg? Regarding Web hosting prices, etc. $50 a month for putting a single document into HTML and then $30 per month to have it posted? That's ridiculously expensive. You should be able to do much better creating the pages yourself (all you need is Word and the Microsoft Assistant for Word, which is free from the Microsoft site) [there are other options, but that's what I happen to use.] And there are hundreds of Web hosting companies (perhaps thousands), and it shouldn't really matter where in the world it is located.

Richard Seltzer -- Yes, Natalia, I believe that for a company in Russia it might make very good sense to have different pieces of your Web presence/Web business hosted by different service companies. And you shouldn't be limited to just what your local Internet access provider happens to offer.

Laurent Thérond -- Good morning Richard, Well, I'm not sure of what Natalia needs. To say: "It'll be 50 bucks a page!" is kind of a joke. What do you mean by a page? How many hours a decent HTML programmers will have to spend to write this page? Will a computer graphics engineer be required? Will this page include any extra features? All these questions are to be considered. A flat rate for page creation is often a bad sign as Internet Presence Providers tend to squeeze their staff to increase "productivity".

Richard Seltzer -- Natalia -- Regarding payment. Can you use credit cards (Visa and Mastercard)? Most Internet providers and Web hosting services are set up for automatic payment of monthly bills by credit card. Then you don't have to worry about monetary exchange rates. Or is there some barrier in the system that I'm unaware of?

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- Yes, a flat rate for a "page" doesn't make much sense, especially since "page" on the Web just means document, and could be the length of a book. (Some of the pages at my site are in fact entire books.) And yes it could include all kinds of special features. But for a typical simple page of text -- or for material plugged into some standard design template -- that would be ridiculously high.

Laurent Thérond -- Richard: I agree with you. I love your site by the way. No flashy images, good content, a lot of diversity... It's like the whole Internet in a single site!

Natalia Nemzer -- I am here now! Hi!

Laurent Thérond -- Natalia! Welcome to you and long life to Russia!

Natalia Nemzer -- Laurent - thank you!

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Natalia. Glad you were able to connect again. I entered several messages to you at the beginning of the session, not realizing that you had disconnected. You'll be able to see those in the transcript if they are too far down to appear on the screen now.

Natalia Nemzer -- Richard -- thank you!

Laurent Thérond -- Natalia -- Send me an E-Mail if you have questions about your project... In France I was consulting for a living, it seems that now I do that for free! ;-)

Finding and choosing an ISP

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Hello, I am here. Richard, how would Natalia go about researching different ISPs in her area, Russia?

Richard Seltzer -- Barbara -- There is "The List" of Internet providers, a searchable directory which is now maintained by Mecklermedia, the folks who do Internet World Magazine. I can't remember the URL off the top of my head, but I'll include it in the transcript for this chat.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Rich, I used to get confused by ISPs - which to choose. There are so many diverse prices. It took me awhile to realize that they were not all the same, some offer more than others, some just charge more than others.

Laurent Thérond -- Barbara> I think that the best way would be to contact her local NIC. NICs around the world manage the Internet's infrastructure. They know the main IAP/IPP in their local area.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Laurent, I'm still a novice at this. What does NIC stand for?

Laurent Thérond -- Barbara> NIC = Network Information Center. NICs operate under InterNIC ( which is the biggest NIC.

Richard Seltzer -- Barbara -- There are many different kinds of ISPs. Some are monstrous nationwide or global carriers that sell high capacity bandwidth etc. to large companies and to other smaller ISPs. There are several tiers -- with the ones at the top basically selling wholesale to very technical people and the ones at the bottom (the folks I deal with) selling retail to non-technical consumers and business people. The pricing depends first on what level you are dealing with. Then there's a question of what you want. At the retail level that starts with dialup connection for basic email and Web browsing, then possible the hosting of Web pages, and then the kinds of value-added services that I'd like to focus on today. Hope that helps.

Blair Anderson -- Barbara, I could recommend you take a look at PAIR.COM for an ISP that is focussed on hosting. Expertise to burn!

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Thanks Laurent, Blair, and Richard.

Range of value-added services available?

Bill Dunlap -- Hi all -- I'm interested in the variety of value-added services that can be hosted on a Website. Of course, I know about autoresponders, autoresponder buttons, fax-to-email, email-to-fax, but now I'm starting to hear about live chat or even "pick up the phone and talk" options on a Web site. Does anyone know about any of this?

Richard Seltzer -- Bill -- Yes, we had some discussion about the "pick up the phone and talk" options a few weeks ago. You might want to check the transcripts. Jim C. from Netcentric had a lot to say about that kind of thing. His company apparently provides the server/background capability that ISPs and large companies would use to provide such services. This feels maybe six months to a year away from where consumers would hear much about it. The buyers today seem to be companies trying to set up the infrastructure for future service businesses. Those of you who know more about this please pipe in and correct me.

Laurent Thérond -- Bill: we are all waiting for more bandwidth! Today if 10% of the Internet users pick up the phone at the same time, we are all in trouble.

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- We are all probably waiting for some kind of standards as well. Today, folks with one kind of Internet phone software can't talk to folks with another kind. But the potential is so great, I can't see that remaining a barrier for much longer.

Laurent Thérond -- Well, electronic payment services I know include: FirstVirtual, DigiCash, Internet Mall, Open Market, ummm...

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- Yes, there are a variety of electronic payment options. I think of DigiCash as a form of on-line money. I think of Open Market as a company that provides electronic commerce software. I think of the Internet Mall has just a directory of hyperlinks. But any of those companies could be the starting point for value-added services Web-hosting, if they wanted to. (It doesn't just have to be an ISP). Do you know if any of those companies are heading in that direction?

Laurent Thérond -- Richard -- Internet Mall is more than that. I mean that they really provide an electronic payment service. I think the main problem at this time is a problem of confidence. Then these services are still too expensive. On the other hand building communities and market products among their members seems to be a great idea. GeoCities is doing a great job in that direction.

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- Interesting. I didn't realize that the Internet Mall had expanded in that direction. They've had a little hyperlink to my site for a couple years, but I haven't taken a look for a long time. Apparently, I ought to go back. What about DigiCash? Do they offer a hosted service as well?

Laurent Thérond -- DigiCash is not interested in that business. They just want to be a technology provider.

Viaweb -- fast-startup on-line stores

Richard Seltzer -- Yesterday a friend pointed me to an interesting site that provides the kind of value-added service I'm talking about. They are located in the Boston area. They let you set up a store, doing credit card purchases on their Web site. It's very quick to start up -- apparently (they claim) a few minutes. They charge $100/month if you have up to 20 different items for sale and $300/month if you have up to 1000 items for sale. If you already have a Web site and just want to add the capability to buy some of your merchandise on-line, you could add a store at Viaweb, hyperlink from your main site to there for folks who want to buy, and hyperlink them back again. That's the basic notion of a modular distributed Web site. Different functions may be hosted in different places, but you use links etc. to make it feel like it's all one site. That way you can add new capability quickly and without having to buy and learn new software and without the maintenance cost of doing it all on your own. Do you folks know of other companies with electronic commerce hosting offerings like that? Or other kinds of value-added services? The more the merrier.

Ed Jaros -- Richard - Interesting site that viaweb. Great idea from reading the home page.

How can ISPs make money with electronic commerce?

Tom Sonnerson -- ISPs are one of my main investments. They are asking how to make money with Commerce. Any ideas?

Tom Sonnerson -- They are also short on capital, so they want to know how to "start small and grow"

Richard Seltzer -- Tom, earlier I mentioned Viaweb Take a look at their site. I'd say that the way they are set up looks quite interesting. They seem to welcome customers just hosting the transaction piece of their Web site there. That looks like a good place to start.

Laurent Thérond -- Tom -- I didn't study very well the question lately but I will do so shortly. I used to review possibilities every six months. From now on I will do so every 3 months. I think the IAP only industry targetting the consumer market is doomed.

Tom Sorrenson -- L. What is IAP? Could you explain further? merci

Laurent Thérond -- Tom -- IAP = Internet Access Provider

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- Regarding starting small and growing, I believe that the best strategy is to pick a niche -- a very small niche. That could be based on technology or geography or industry -- something you know well. Then start with a single modular value-added service that is critical for that niche -- e.g., storefront a la Viaweb or on-line meetings or RealAudio file serving. At the same time, identify the other companies that offer complementary products and services for the niche that you have targeted and partner with them so you can offer customers a complete solution, even though your piece of that solution might be small. Anyway, that's what I'd do. Get that one thing going well, and expand from there.

Tom Sorrenson -- What about Certificate Authorities? Do you all think ISPs could become those?

Laurent Thérond -- Tom -- Interesting question... Certificates issuers should be trusted third parties. I can imagine a national organization, managed by the federal government, that would sell licenses to issue Authentication Certificates. AC registrars would then become value-added services providers.

Blair Anderson -- We are yet to see a full implementation of Mondex, but the groundwork is laid. I expect that banks will wake up and realise the "value" in certification authority.. although having spoken to a quite a few banks they certainly are
locked into an agenda! that tends to discount the more creative inputs from those with net knowhow.. 'netique' is too blue jeans!. Shame really..

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- Yes, Certificate Authorities seems like a possibility. There's lots related to security -- varying levels of security -- that ISPs could offer as value-added services. For instance, with tunnels (e.g., AltaVista Tunnel) they could get into the business of setting up Virtual Private Networks for corporations. Lots of opportunity. Actually, Rose Ann Giordano, Tom Richardson, and a couple of dozen others from Digital will be making presentations on topics related to ISP business opportunities etc. at ISP Con in San Francisco. I believe that takes place next week.

Blair Anderson -- Tom> I have some links that are usefull on certification
for ISP's.. see my homepage. Froomkin is the guru!

Richard Seltzer -- Blair, thanks for the pointer. Is Froomkin in New Zealand?

Blair Anderson -- Richard > see

Tom Sorrenson -- Do you think ISPs will offer microcommerce applications?

Laurent Thérond -- Tom -- I don't. On the other hand, if you look at Cisco, Amazon or even a microshop as HotHotHot, you realize that electronic commerce is already there and growing fast.

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- Yes, microcommerce (e.g., Millicent) would be a natural. And also tied into that Network Computers. There are some interesting business opportunities that ISPs could get into that involve giving away or renting low cost NCs and setting up to use Millicent or other micropayment systems so users pay per use for software applications, etc. We're just at the very beginnings of stuff like that.

Tom Sorrenson -- Do you think ISPs could be used for gambling/gaming/lotto?

Ed Jaros -- Tom- Already experimenting with online gambling through a site that off the US coast. I know there are others. Even AOL has some neat things they are trying out.

Blair Anderson -- Tom> "Do you think ISPs could be used for gambling/gaming/lotto?"
I think there is an inherent danger here. I have some resources on the subject at Already several online "nambling sites" are subject to
critique due to the unsavoury history of the "protagonists". There are many legal and statutory issues relating to gambling (wire fraud etc) in the USA, New Zealand is/has real commercial potential as it has "regulatory controls" that will assure the international nambler, that the site is credible..

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- Basically, any function/piece of business that can be done on a Web site could also be offered by an ISP as a value-added service, if there were enough business customers to justify the effort. I'm not sure that there are enough companies wanting to do gambling to justify that as a value-added ISP service. But games in the broader sense -- interactive and strategic games and on-line versions of traditional games: setups where people paid per use for the gaming software or where they paid to be connected with other players -- ISPs could set up to make it easier for businesses to make those kinds of offers.

Les Duryea -- I'm new to the conversation, but wouldn't the Alpha chip be a perfect candidate for a NC in conjunction with all services, VPN tunneling, server-side storage and backup, etc. I would think that a lot of these services (products) do not necessarily need to be offered by the ISP.

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- You might also consider an on-line coupon-server business -- making it easier for companies to offer coupons on-line for use in traditional stores or to use on-line coupon-value credit (perhaps using something like Millicent) to incent visitors to one site to check out another; or also the offering of micro-credits (like frequent flier miles) to reward people for repeatedly returning to the same site.

Laurent Thérond -- Tom -- If you want great ideas for your potential customers, send me a note as well. I won't start my business in this country before a couple of years (I did it in France and I know what it takes!) but I have some good ideas that will be lost if I don't use them.

Internet World in Chicago -- source of info on electronic commerce

Ed Jaros -- Note on e-commerce - At Chicago's i-world they had about 180 presentations and all of them (minus the workshops) are on CDROM with slides, audio and video although I am not sure to what extent of each. I haven't seen it yet but I know the conferences I went to really gave me some great insight to all different types of visions, focuses and strategies. cost was around $160.00 US

Ed Jaros -- P.S. all on one CDROM... not one for each.

Value-added services for enhanced contact with the visitor?

Bill Dunlap -- Are you, or is anyone aware of other new value-added services for a Web site to add to the contact with the visitor, which haven't yet been mentioned today? Any new technologies? (One sexy application I saw recently was Placeware's auditorium technology, to "meet" in a virtual meeting space, listen/read a presentation, watch slides, and talk to the "room".) Any other value-added applications that haven't been mentioned?

Richard Seltzer -- Bill -- I've heard of placeware, but haven't tried it yet. In a recent transcript there was mention of an ISP in DC that offers on-line conference-call-type meetings as a value-added service (for a high price) [I'll include the URL in the transcript]. I'm sure that there are many more. The problem is that ISPs don't seem to know how to market these capabilities. They have been in the mode of trying to get all the business from their customers -- trying to be one-stop sources of Web-hosted everything. They haven't specialized and niche-promoted the way they would need to to get visibility. Yes, Acunet, I believe, for instance, offers RealAudio as a service. But you'd have to go to there site and read through lots of marketing info to figure that out. I think that's common.

Banking on the Web

Blair Anderson -- Banks here in New Zealand are postioning on "branding".. the ASB Bank has released its banking strategy and has made a most excellent job of building reationships with existing and new clientele.

Richard Seltzer -- Blair -- Are the banks simply marketing their existing services using the Web? Or are any of them getting into electronic commerce on the Web -- for instance, hosting Web stores for customers and making the transaction etc. parts easy for them?

Blair Anderson -- The process of building the relationship and user skills is paramount to "community adoption" of e$commerce. Until we have the ability to buy/pay locally, we wont see a great deal of commercial volume/turnover.

Blair Anderson -- Richard> More focused on existing services (conservatism reigns) but clearly bringing skills and credibility to the consumer.. NZ has been pretty quick of the mark with online shops now trading. ( - general
goods and home shopping via a supermarket/home delivery services proving very popular)

Laurent Thérond -- Richard -- In France, each bank promotes its own system. It's kind of funny. They don't use it for their own business but they are ready to sell it their customers!

Ed Jaros -- Richard - I have been hearing a lot about banks and loans via the web. From what I read the trend will be to look for a loan via the web with access to banks from coast to coast, not just local. I know the bank of Montreal offers on line loan apps already and there are others.


Richard Seltzer -- All -- The hour is passing quickly. The next two Thursdays we'll be off for vacation. We'll be back again Thursday Aug. 28. Hope you can join us again then. Meanwhile, let's take a few minutes to talk about future topics. Do we want to give this one one more round? If not, what would you like to talk about?

Laurent Thérond -- Richard -- August 28th!? The day before my wedding!? No, I won't be able to attend... ;-)

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent, congratulations!

Richard Seltzer -- All -- I'm not seeing any discussion about future topics. Please send me email with followup message to Regarding seeing previous messages, you can log off and come back on and set the number of message to be seen at a high number like 1000 and see everything. Also, remember, I will post an edited version of the transcript at my Web site in the next day or two. Check

Richard Seltzer -- All -- Thanks very much for joining us today. Hope you can come back again at our next session which will be Thurs. Aug. 28. And please, please, send email to let me know the direction you'd like this discussion to evolve in future sessions.

Laurent Thérond Suggested next topic: Java and the Internet... How will Java change the Web? Etc.

Richard Seltzer -- Java and the Internet sounds interesting. Please send me email if you can with suggested background reading for posting with the transcript.

Richard Seltzer -- I forgot to mention, all before you sign off, please post your email address and URL for future contact.

Ed Jaros -- Thanks for the Chat! Have a great vacation Richard! out.

Natalia Nemzer -- Good luck to all! Natalia

Blair Anderson -- Cheers all, see you in the soup a few weeks from now.. dont
be strangers..

Laurent Thérond -- Richard -- Thanks for the chat and have a good vacation... All -- Bye, bye, be good...


Cnet on E-Commerce

From: Tracy Marks, M.A. <>

Cnet's feature story this week is 20 Questions about E-Commerce:

>Sure, you can buy almost anything on the Net, including those

>hard-to-find gifts for your hard-to-please friends. But how does

>online commerce work? This week, we answer the 20 most asked

>questions on e-commerce. Once you learn these e-commerce basics,

>you'll be able to throw your e-cash around with the best of them,

>and you'll be well on your way to converting your run-of-the-mill

>Web site into a money-making online operation. Get your business

>online, and get rich--quick!

Tracy Marks, M.A.


Response to "Stages in the evolution of Internet business"

From: mark henderson <> Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 21:25:01 +1000

Richard I am very interested in exploring the concept of using the internet to generate more opportunities for business to generate sales. I believe that business should be abloe to take space in a internet mall. A place that all net surfers are made aware of, a place which they can visit to buy goods online. The average consumer is starting to show confidence in the capabilities of the internet. They freely give off personal information with the confidence that it won't be tampered with. I for instance do a lot of my banking through the internet. It is going to be the sales tool of the future.

What do you think?


From: Ed <> Date: Tue, 5 Aug 1997 09:02:09 -0500

Here is the e-mail from Alexa pointing to their private beta site for download along with other misc. info.



From: Date: Tue, 5 Aug 1997 19:53:19 -0700

Subject: Alexa Beta Download Invitation

Your copy of Alexa for Windows95/NT is now available for download!

We're excited about this public release and look forward to learning from your feedback. Your use of Alexa will help make Alexa better for everyone.

We highly encourage and recommend that you register for Alexa instant messaging when installing! You can then contact our support staff when they are online (

You can get your copy of Alexa at the following URL (this should take about eight minutes on a 28.8 modem):

We will check in with you by email once a week to see how your Alexa experience is going, but please contact us any time if you encounter problems or have questions or comments.

** Use the service! Your paths, which are kept anonymous, will benefit everyone who uses Alexa.

** Vote on each web site that you visit. Your Yea/Nay vote will be tallied and considered for all.

** Add links to the Alexa client. These form personalized bookmarks for you, and Alexa will anonymously receive these suggestions and build even better recommendations in the future.

** Send feedback of any kind to We appreciate receiving your input and insight!

[detailed installation instructions deleted for this posting]

Start local, build to global

From: Date: Tue, 12 Aug 1997 14:05:48

hi and thanks. many thanks actually, richard. I've just read your 6 aug note. late. i know it. but anyway in regards to after or during stage 2, maybe marketting should/has tostart real LOCAL instead in believing that it will be global instantly. meaning, if a person is shopping for goods/services, hammering out the details could become a prerequisite.

anyway i need to start paying attention to the chat times and get into it.

Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats --

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