SAP, AOL Go For Big Splash In Overflowing E-Commerce Pool

Amid a torrent of announcements each week unveiling still more online trading systems for electronic commerce, it's a wonder manufacturers still know how to buy from their suppliers, connect with their distributors, and sell their products. In the past week, SAP AG and America Online Inc. were two of the biggest players to throw their coins into the e-commerce pool, wishing for a splash.

  • SAP, which had debuted its portal for its customers a year ago, last week took the e-thing a step further, forming a new subsidiary -- SAPMarkets -- dedicated to conducting global business-to-business transactions on the Internet. SAP cochairman Hasso Plattner, the enterprise software giant's highest-ranking official in the U.S., will run the new subsidiary until a CEO is named. The new company will operate globally with headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. SAPMarkets is expected to open for business in May. SAP's initial investment in the venture is projected at up to $500 million.
  • Not to be left out of the burgeoning business-to-business e-commerce market, America Online, whose longtime strength is consumer -- not corporate -- America, broke tradition and teamed with to provide business users at companies of all sizes with a complete e-commerce "solution." The two companies will codevelop a business exchange for the millions of business users across AOL,, CompuServe, and Netscape Netcenter. The system will use's browser-based e-commerce software as the engine for the interactive marketplace. The idea is to allow users to source, bid, negotiate, buy, and sell their products and services across multiple vertical and horizontal business markets. The new exchange is expected to be rolled out sometime in the second quarter of this year.
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