The Next E-volution

BusinessBots could transform corporate commerce, just as the Web transformed consumer shopping

So Joe Procurement from Acme Chemicals wants to score a thousand pounds of polypropylene. In the old days, he'd have his broker pals ring up suppliers around the world until they found the best deal. Calls: 30 or 40, many international. Transaction time: one week. Cost: hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Moses Ma, founder and CEO of the e-commerce software start-up BusinessBots, thinks he has a better way. Sitting in BizBots' San Francisco office, he types in a polypropylene order on his JAM (Java Agent-Enabled Marketplace) prototype for the chemicals industry. A moment passes; then JAM matches Ma's buy order--price, purity,...