Google has acquired TNC (Tatter and Company), a Korean blog platform company that compares itself to Automattic, the team behind WordPress. Although Google already owns its own blogging platform, Blogger, it is not particularly popular in Korea. (According to comScore, Blogger had 1.7 million unique Korean visitors in July). The acquisition is clearly a geographic expansion move for Google, but its Textcube blogging platform also has some social networking features which Google might want to export to Blogger or other products.
In his blog post on the acquisition, TNC founder Chang Kim shed some light on the company’s history, and why he thinks it was acquired:
“Despite the danger of sounding too self-important, I would say our company was a fairly good acquisition target for Google. First, we had a killer product: Our previous work, Tistory blog service (now property of Daum as we sold the service to the Korea’s #2 portal), made to the top 10 Korean web destination in less than a year from launch, showing some 30,000% growth over the initial 8 months. While other blog services seem to be exploring the idea of integrating social networks with blogs only lately, our new blog service Textcube (link in Korean) had already implemented the feature much earlier. Secondly, we have great engineering talents. Many of our software engineers hail from the nation’s leading comp sci programs, such as KAIST.”
Chang Kim speculates that this is one of Google’s first acquisitions in Korea (though he admits that not all acquisitions are disclosed by the search giant). He also writes that while the deal is in part related to his product and team, Google is likely trying to establish a stronger presence in the Korean market, where it hasn’t performed well. Kim explains that Koreans tend to prefer web portals – the one-stop-shop online centers like Yahoo – over searching for content.
On the M&A panel at TechCrunch50 earlier this week, Google’s head of corporate development, David Lawee, noted:
We’ve bought companies to boost market share in particularly geographies where we’re not that strong. . . . At Google we don’t really think of size of the deal so much as impact. A lot of the best deals have been smaller companies.
Textcube has some interesting social-networking features, including a built-in RSS reader and a plugin for real-time Web chat. All the major blogging platforms are trying to help blogs turn themselves into mini-social networks. Blogger is already moving in this direction with the recent addition of its “following” feature, but still needs to catch up to the social-networking features available on Typepad and WordPress.