Google Shops for Blogging Tools in Korea

From left to right: Chester Roh, Chang Kim, and author Joyce Kim. Photo by Joyce Kim.

From left to right: Chester Roh, Chang Kim, and author Joyce Kim. Photo by Joyce Kim.

Google (s goog) has acquired South Korea’s TNC, maker of the open-source blogging and publishing platform Textcube, co-CEO Chang Kim said on his personal blog today. I met with the TNC team back in March, when I was visiting Seoul. I liked the company so much that I talked about it on an episode of The GigaOM Show and wrote about Textcube on my own blog.

Everything I saw during the demo TNC gave made me want to move my own blog onto Textcube. I was impressed not only with how easy it was to add photos, videos and podcasts, but with the incredible drag-and-drop feature, which made it very easy to upload images in bulk, create slide shows, resize images and format text around the media object. TNC had also recently restructured its commenting system to resemble an email inbox, a format whose familiarity will undoubtedly prove more accessible to bloggers and readers alike. And its default analytics system offers Google Analytics-like information and results without the hassle of installing plug-ins.

Overall, TNC is a great product to bridge the gap between first-time bloggers, who want maximum simplicity, and professional bloggers, who want to customize every last detail. And as blogging becomes more prevalent, this mid-market may emerge as the biggest of the three.

The TNC team previously built a blogging community site called tistory, which is similar to Xanga and quickly became one of Korea’s top 10 web sites. Tistory was subsequently acquired by Daum, while the founders continued developing the open-source software platform as a software-as-service business that became TNC. Co-CEO Chang Kim is major evangelist and blogger in the Asian Web 2.0 scene, while founder Chester Roh is a famous former hacker and a graduate of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, whose alum have created a significant number of the top Korean tech companies and services.

Strategically, this acquisition is a good move by Google. By purchasing a Korean company with a well-known executive team, TNC will provide the search giant some much-needed PR within the Korean market. After all, in order for Google to succeed in the Korean market, they need to be seen as a “Korean” company.

And although Google already has Blogger, which is quite popular amongst more novice bloggers, Textcube offers functionality that rivals both Movable Type and WordPress. So is Google planning on rolling it out worldwide, aimed at that middle segment of the market of dedicated but not necessarily professional bloggers? If that’s the case, the big blogging companies would be well-advised to keep an eye on the trends in the Korean market.

(Disclosure: TNC rival Automattic is a company backed by True Ventures, where GigaOM founder Om Malik is a venture partner. Malik is also a personal friend of Automattic founder, Matt Mullenweg. True Ventures is also an investor in GigaOM’s parent company, Giga Omni Media)