Back in the early 90's, I had a small startup called Eccosys. It was started by a rag tag team of friends in my apartment. We knew a lot about the Internet, but few else in Japan did. As the Internet started to get more and more press, a lot of companies started creating and trying to sell Internet products.
Eccosys struggled to get "real" Internet related work. Then, I met Kaoru Hayashi, the CEO of From Garage. From Garage was a small advertising production and planning shop that had literally started in a garage a few blocks from my apartment. Dentsu was one of From Garage's biggest clients. From Garage and Eccosys made a unique team of Internet-enabled producers, and we helped a bunch of companies launch Internet-related products like Sun's Java, IBM's OS2 Warp, and Lotus Notes' Merchant Server. It turned out that in the early days, there was much more money to be made helping people talk about the Internet than actually making money doing anything on the Internet.
As more and more work from Dentsu and others went "digital" Kaoru and I decided that it made sense to formally join forces and in 1995, we created Digital Garage and merged all of our companies into one company. At Digital Garage, with the help of the ad agencies, we launched Infoseek Japan and began the first effort to sell ads by CPM - Cost Per Thousand (impressions).
In Japan, there are a number of huge ad agencies. As the story goes, each of original ad agencies picked a medium and specialized. Dentsu, which is short of "electronic communications" in Japanese, picked radio and TV and hit a jackpot as these media turned out to be the winners. In a uniquely Japanese way, Dentsu not only advertised, but they lead the way in the development of the media supporting their innovation and business development.
Digital Garage and Dentsu have worked together closely for decades, but I'm super-excited that we are now "family" with today's announcement of the decision for Dentsu to make a significant investment in Digital Garage and create a business alliance.
Co-founder, Digital Garage, Inc.
Director, MIT Media Lab