September 12, 2008
For its third acquisition in 2008, Google has for the second time gone shopping abroad.
On Friday, Google confirmed that it has acquired South Korean blog platform company Tatter and Company (TNC). "We are excited to welcome Tatter and Company's engineering team to Google Korea," said a Google spokesperson in an e-mailed statement. "Acquiring Tatter and Company will allow us to enhance our online publishing tools in Korea, benefiting a large number of users who already depend on and enjoy Google and Tatter and Company's products." In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Chang-Won Kim, co-CEO of TNC, explains that TNC can be thought of as South Korea's equivalent of Automattic, a company that makes software to complement and extend the open source WordPress blog publishing platform. Kim says the acquisition is the first Google has done in Asia outside of China. The deal, he expects, will help improve Google's "minor" market share in South Korea, a state of affairs he attributes to the South Korean preference for staying within Web portals rather than venturing to all manner of online sites for information and services. "We will commit ourselves to increasing Google's market share in Korea," Kim said in a blog post. "Of course, Google isn't entitled with God-given right to become #1 in every region it operates in, just because it's Google. It's actually more about the Korean web industry than about Google. I think the Korean Web industry needs a player that can, as a balancing force, provide more options to the users and help create a more open Web." While Google and TNC are working to create a more open Web, the South Korean government may be working against them. Stung by protests driven in part by people-powered media and bloggers, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak has been pushing for new Internet regulations to curb what online reporters can say. In an interview last month with The Guardian in the United Kingdom, Lee Han-ki, editor-in-chief of OhmyNews, a leading Korean portal for citizen journalists, said, "The proposed legislation will not only hinder free speech by Korean netizens but seems to be aimed at controlling the public opinion of Internet news media."
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