Microsoft, Softbank and Yahoo! Japan Create Joint Venture To Bring No. 1 U.S. Online Car-Buying Service to Japan

REDMOND, Wash., March 24, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding to enter a joint venture with Softbank Corp. and Yahoo! Japan to create the Japanese version of the MSN
online service, a leading online automotive service in the United States. The new company resulting from the agreement – not yet named – will create a localized version of MSN CarPoint for distribution on MSN Japan and Yahoo! Japan, delivering award-winning services and technologies from MSN CarPoint to more than 80 percent of the online consumer marketplace in Japan. The new service is scheduled to be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Microsoft and Softbank relationship brings together the best Internet technologies from MSN CarPoint along with the customer and distribution expertise of Softbank. The Japanese version of MSN CarPoint is scheduled to provide many of the same features of the U.S. version, with localized content and services to meet the unique needs of consumers in Japan.

“The Internet is the ultimate marketplace that brings buyers and sellers together in a more efficient and convenient transaction. This is a vision we share with Softbank and Yahoo! Japan,”
said Bill Gates, chairman and CEO, Microsoft.
“The Japanese version of CarPoint will give auto manufacturers and dealers the opportunity to showcase their products and services to over 80 percent of the Internet audience in Japan.”

“We are very proud to have an excellent relationship with Microsoft in the rapidly growing Japanese electronic commerce business,”
said Masayoshi Son, president and CEO, Softbank.
“MSN CarPoint has an outstanding reputation in the United States, and I believe Softbank can extend its incredible success into the Japanese market, acquiring preferential position in the two major portal sites of Yahoo! Japan and MSN.”

The initial capital of the new company will be $7 million, with 50 percent of its common stock owned by Softbank, 40 percent by Microsoft and 10 percent by Yahoo! Japan. Masayoshi Son will be CEO and president of the new company, responsible for selection of the management team, localizing MSN CarPoint for Japan and building strategic automotive relationships in the region.

Microsoft will provide the technology and interface design for the new service, which will look similar to MSN CarPoint, including the Japanese version of DealerPoint, a service designed to help automotive dealers track and manage their Internet customers.
“MSN CarPoint has built its success on the services it provides to consumers, automotive dealers and manufacturers,”
said Lindsay Sparks, general manager for MSN CarPoint, Microsoft.
“We’re thrilled to extend this strategy to Japan by developing strong industry relationships and localized services for consumers.”

MSN CarPoint is the most-visited online car-buying service in the United States (January 99 Media Metrix), reaching more than 3 million customers per month. MSN CarPoint generates over $450 million in monthly automobile sales to its 2,500 auto dealers each month.

About Softbank

Softbank is a leading provider of information and distribution services for the digital information industry. In Japan, Softbank is the largest distributor of software and computer

technology publications. In the United States, Softbank owns approximately 72 percent of Ziff-Davis Inc. (NYSE: ZD), 28 percent of Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), 80 percent of Kingston Technology Co. and 27 percent of E*TRADE Group Inc. (EGRP).

About MSN CarPoint

MSN CarPoint is a comprehensive automotive Web site offering users complete car-buying and car-care information. Launched on the Internet in October 1995, CarPoint gives users fast, convenient access to detailed specifications and pricing information, reviews and advice from leading automotive writers, interactive decision management tools, a new- and used-car buying service, and personalized maintenance and recall information.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, MSN and CarPoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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