MS, IBM, Andersen Launch Services Venture

High-tech industry titans Microsoft, IBM and Arthur Andersen will invest $US100 million in a new company that will develop more than 25 "e-campuses" -- complete with hardware, software, finance support, and even a fitness club -- for startups that need to ramp up quickly.

Scott Blum, founder of Buy.com, is starting Enfrastructure with the financial backing and support of the three major vendors plus backers like Avaya Communication and Hong Kong-based Hanny Holdings. Enfrastructure's campuses are being touted as a setting where new companies can focus on accelerating concept and product development, while reducing time-to-market and preserving funds for more needed purposes.

Enfrastructure will open its first campus in Orange County, California, in December. During early 2001, campuses will be opened in New York, northern California, Colorado and other key technology markets in the U.S. and in Asia. European expansion is expected by late 2001, the company said.

Clients of Enfrastructure will be able to grab software, hardware and other service packages when they commit to space in one of the company's campuses. IBM will be the only hardware provider for the company, offering servers, storage, PCs, notebooks and printers.

Microsoft will offer a variety of its server and desktop application products. Arthur Andersen will provide outsourced accounting services and other financial assistance. Voice communication systems, messaging capabilities and structured cabling will be offered by Avaya.

The campus layout also will offer cafes, fitness centers, banking services, dry cleaning, sports bars/ lounges, printing and production centers, and travel agencies. Also, Enfrastructure will offer to bundle its services for off-site clients as well.

James Watson will be Enfrastructure's president and chief operating officer. Watson was previously with Koll Development Co. in Newport Beach, California, where he was responsible for commercial real-estate operations in the western U.S. and Mexico. Enfrastructure will be based in Aliso Viejo, California.

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