Are Japan internet businesses that focus on expats not much grander than blogs?

A post that is going to touch on a few areas that might amuse the Japan-side expat community.

Yesterday, in my update of the Flyjin indicies, I mentioned Wall Street Associates in Tokyo, who post a running count of their job openings on their main page.

I have been visiting the website,, religiously, and, as I said yesterday, the gross number of openings is up from early April. I had visited this firm late in my days in Tokyo, after having met a wonderful person who recruits for the firm. Before that introduction, I had been told that Wall Street was “just a website”. No, they actually do have an office in the western part of Ginza. But, you know, they might still “just” be a website after all.

I visited my friends at Alexa to find out.

This is Wall Street Associates Japan on Alexa. Their website is ranked 736,819—lower than my blog, which lately has had a 3-month [global] in the high mid 400,000’s [#439,197]. They are #224,059 in the U.S., which means they are ranking even lower than that in Japan, where you would figure the expat companies would be focusing their searches. The Japan part of my readership puts me around below #40,000, [actually: #30,816], and I am a “long tail” blogger. So how many business people, and how many job seekers, are checking that website every day?

Now here’s the kicker: look at this nugget of data.

The site is relatively popular among users in the city of Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York (where it is ranked #1,418.)

That metro area happens to be in the American state of Pennsylvania. I know it well. I live it in!

Basically, either a lot of my neighbors in Lancaster Country are looking for jobs in Tokyo, or my daily tracking of the job openings at Wall Street Japan has boosted that website up into the top 1500 of South Central Pennsylvania! Which do you think it is?

Do you see what the business model is? “Register with us and give us your information. In the meantime, make sure you check out our website regularly, because new openings are always popping up!” (I’m sorry—new “opportunities”.) And then, you check out their website everyday. If you happen to go to an area where no one would be looking for jobs in Tokyo, you actually put their website on the map! You do their advertising for them. Neat trick, eh?

(If you think that’s the only Japan-side web page I blow life into, stick with me for a while.)

I happen to know that Wall Street Associates is a real business, and there are people involved. As I said, in 2009, I was told it was “just a website”. I think more accurately it is a dispatch business that has a recruiter arm attached to it. Because on the main page, you find this:

I have a feeling what Wall Street Japan really is, is a company that places foreigners out on contract jobs. There is that pool of foreigners with various talents, who are living in the Kantou region; and companies who do NOT want to hire permanently, if they can help it, rely on firms like Wall Street Japan. The thing that is really their business is not the thing that is featured prominently, next to the smiling Asian ad models. There’s no other way to explain the rent for the place in Ginza, plus three other locations that I assume aren’t someone’s 1K apartment there. It must be that the money comes off contract work.

Terrie Lloyd, who I understand is a very nice guy, but who I classify in the role of “prospector supplier” to the other foreigners who come to Japan, was talking up Wall Street Japan last year. This is what he had to say:

** August — Buy-out of Wall Street Associates

Although it didn’t even make the Nikkei newspaper, a deal that was carefully noted by many of us in the foreign community was the buy out of recruiting firm Wall Street Associates by En-Japan, one of Japan’s largest online recruiting players. The apparent strategy of En-Japan is to supply bilingual workers to Japanese companies expanding abroad, as well as to set up their own offices overseas as well. Wall Street Associates will be the platform to do that. This means that the smart money is identifying international recruiting as a major trend and is something that other recruiters will be wanting a piece of. The owner of Wall Street Associates got a very decent price for the firm, with a sale price of JPY1.77bn (US$22m) for a firm founded in 2000. Not bad going…

Terrie says that EN-Japan bought this firm for $22 million. It’s written like that means $22 million in cash, but it could very well be a projected $22 million in stock options, which is something entirely different.

To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t know. Twenty-two million is a lot for a company that is putting out erito-haken. It may be. It may not be. You have to dispatch an awful lot of contract workers to make $2 million net, which would give EN-Japan a bit less than 10% annualized return. But the flipside is, you can go to Amish country Pennsylvania with bi-lingual Japanese staff and clean up in the market, because you’ve got that internet presence. Maybe not with the Amish, (since they don’t use electronics), but with the various businesses who are connected to the web and to world trade.

Here’s getting you in June to the top 1,000 in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York online market!

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