196 Articles for 'Web 2.0'

  1. 2008/09/12 We've been Googled! (36)
  2. 2008/09/08 More speakers announced for Open Web Asia '08!
  3. 2008/08/14 Open Web Asia '08 website is now up! (2)
  4. 2008/08/06 How can web change the world? Gremz of Japan knows one answer (3)
  5. 2008/08/04 "Guru's Library" from Naver - who said the company was evil?
  6. 2008/07/30 Is gaming service the proven cashcow for Korean Web 2.0 companies? (2)
  7. 2008/07/25 A discouraging news for Korean open web movement (6)
  8. 2008/07/24 Youtube Korea seeing a nice growth
  9. 2008/07/15 What % of your front page content is news? (4)
  10. 2008/07/09 Cyworld 3D launches officially (3)

We've been Googled!

Web 2.0 | 2008/09/12 15:02 | Web 2.0 Asia

Disclaimer: The contents in this post may pertain to the author's personal interests.

They say "All good things come in threes" - well, the year 2008 was the living proof of that phrase for me. Firstly, Sara and I had our first baby son, Issac, who is our biggest blessing. Secondly, Open Web Asia '08, the premier web conference that I started as a personal project but has since been a great community effort of more than a dozen web professionals, is looking more and more like a hit conference with about 20 top-notch speakers. (Register away!)

And, to borrow Steve Jobs's patent line from his keynote, there's "one last thing" - our company was acquired by Google.

Who we are and why (I think) Google bought us

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TNC (full name Tatter and Company), Korea's blog specialty company which I've been running as a CEO with my partner Chester (who is the original founder of the company), was acquired by Google Korea on 9/12/2008. For those who are not familiar with us, think of TNC as Korea's Automattic - a company that develops a cool blogging platform that's favorited by the nation's A-list bloggers, and also works closely with the open source community.

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.

Significance: Google takes Korean market seriously

Some might say what's the big deal here, as Google seems to acquire companies almost daily. Well, if I may put some meaning to this deal, the notable fact here is that we are a company based out of Korea. To my knowledge, we are being one of the first major acquisitions done by Google in the entire Asia let alone Korea, if we don't count Austrailia and also exclude share-taking activities in China for licensing purposes. Of course I could be totally wrong, as Google doesn't annnounce all its acquisitions.

Speaking of Google in Asia, one piece of fact that my American friends have really hard time perceiving is that Google is an underdog in this part of the globe. Korea is the world's sixth largest market in terms of internet users, and yet Google has a market share that can only be described as "minor" in Korea.

Why? Korean web users mostly use Yahoo-like "portal" services and never really venture out. Part of the reason for that is, Korean portals are so good. But portals have built too thick of a comfort zone for Korean web users, leaving little room for startup innovations. Hence less motivation for startups, hence less diversity and more portal domination (in this age of de-portalization, that is), and so on and so forth - the cycle goes on.

What we will do

Now as a part of Google, TNC will try to better the situation. We will commit ourselves to increasing Google's market share in Korea. 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. Well, who can be that player? How about giving a chance to a company that sincerely strives to be "not evil" despite its sheer bigness?

Perhaps fitting with my personal vision (which is also a motivation behind the Open Web Asia conference and this very blog), we will also try to introduce Textcube to outside of Korea. Textcube was so good that it was called "better than the services in the US in many ways" by some international media like Giga Om, but we were hopelessly behind in terms of globalizing our product, with my perennial excuse that I'm too busy with the Korean market alone. Hopefully Google's global presence will be of tremendous help in globalizing Textcube and other interesting web services coming from Korea.

1) For the deal specifics, as many of you should know well, by confidentiality agreement I am not supposed to talk anything about the deal, so you don't have to bother asking. :)

2) I would like to take this opportunity to thank my partner, Chester Roh. He's been extremely good to work with. If I hadn't met him back in 2004, I would still be pushing papers at a cubicle nation. Of course I owe the same thanks to all the rest of the crew at TNC, and to our investor Softbank.
TAG , textcube

More speakers announced for Open Web Asia '08!

Web 2.0 | 2008/09/08 20:14 | Web 2.0 Asia

As though the current speaker lineup wasn't enough, we are inviting more top-notch speakers to Open Web Asia '08. Jason Calacanis of Mahalo.com is coming; and so is James Wei, Opera Asia President. They will be joined by Andy Yao of 51.com (the hottest social network of China) and Sam Flemming of CIC data, a think-tank with great insights for the Chinese web market.

With these additions, there will be a total of 19 speakers. We truly hope the Open Web Asia will be one of the best web events of the region for this year. I'm quoting the bios of the 4 new speakers here; For more information on other speakers, check out the the "Speakers" section of our homepage.

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Jason Calacanis
CEO of Mahalo

Jason McCabe Calacanis is the founder and CEO of Mahalo.com, a human-powered search engine. Prior to Mahalo.com's launch in May, 2007, he was an "Entrepreneur in Action" at Sequoia Capital, a position he held since December 2006. Jason co-founded and was the CEO of Weblogs, Inc., a network of popular weblogs that was sold to AOL in November 2005. Upon joining AOL, he was appointed senior vice president. In addition, he was named general manager of AOL's Netscape. Prior to forming Weblogs Inc., Jason was the founder of Rising Tide Studios, which sold its flagship publication to Dow Jones.

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James Wei
President, Opera Asia Pacific

James is a seasoned telecommunications industry executive with more than a decade of experience in senior management roles on both the operator and OEM side of the business. His broad range of leadership encompasses the successful implementation of direct and channel sales strategies, marketing, product management, and strong general management. James joins Opera Software as President of APAC, responsible for growing Opera's leading browser technology and services activities throughout Asia Pacific. In this role, James will be responsible for managing all of Opera's integrated customer-facing activities and will lead the sales & marketing organization, technical pre-sales, and field operations. He comes to Opera Software from Teleca, where he served as Managing Director of Teleca Taiwan, one of the world's leading system integrators of mobile phone software. Before leading Teleca Taiwan, James served as General Manager of Openwave System in Taiwan for 3 years, He has also served in executive level sales & marketing and business development positions at HelloAsia and iAsiaworks. James holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from College of New Jersey.

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Andy Yao
VP of 51.com

Educated in Art & Design from China and US, Mr.Yao is skilled in combining his design skill with software development experiences. He successfully started several companies in both China and US. In 1999, he and friends started an online calendar company named FamilyPlex, later sold to Nasdaq listed company Woman.com. In 2007, 51.com acquired Mr. Yao's avatar platform company and successfully integrated into 51.com. Now, Mr. Yao served as VP at 51.com, in charge of Product & Marketing.

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Sam Flemming

Sam Flemming is co-founder and CEO of CIC, the first and leading Internet Word of Mouth (IWOM) Research and Consulting firm in China. Sam has been a participant of China's digital evolution for over 10 years starting with Chinapay.com, the first online payment platform in China. Under Sam's leadership, CIC has built a highly qualified team of analysts who utilize proprietary Chinese language text mining technology to provide a prestigious list of Fortune 500 clients with customized reports and insights based on systematic analysis of tens of millions of BBS and blog posts written Chinese netizens.

Open Web Asia '08 website is now up!

Web 2.0 | 2008/08/14 12:44 | Web 2.0 Asia

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So it started with some random thoughts, but it's finally here - Open Web Asia '08, the first truly pan-Asian web conference with one of the best speaker lineups you can ever get from any web conference. It's happening in Sheraton Grande Walkerhill hotel in Seoul, Korea on October 14, and the official website is now up. (You can also download the official PR here.) Online registration will follow soon, but you can drop an email for pre-registration now. The registration fees will be $200 after a special World Knowledge Forum discount, and will include lunch and refreshments.

Okay, so what is Open Web Asia? Well, I think this can be a good tagline: We got so tired of hearing there's no good web conference in Asia to attend, we just created one. To quote from my Open Web Asia blog post:
So why does Asia need another web conference? Doesn’t each and every country in Asia already have almost too many web conferences? Why Open Web Asia?

Well, you know what? We are coming from China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, USA, France, and Germany - and that just about describes the kind of conference we have been trying to create. A first truly pan-Asian web conference where Asia’s web innovations can be introduced to the rest of the world in English; A world-class web event with “killer speakers” where thought leaders from the Asian web industry as well as from the Silicon Valley share their insights; A unique chance to discuss intra-regional business opportunities, say, how effectively a Korean web company can be funded by a Japanese VC and launch in the Chinese market; And last but not least, a great networking event where the audience can bump into the “movers and shakers” from Asia and the rest of the world. 

Here are the speakers confirmed to date. We are expecting to hear from some other great speakers in the coming days. (In an alphabetical order.)

  • Kevin Day (CEO, Comsenz) (China)
  • Arthur Chang (VP of Global Sales, Alibaba) (China)
  • Yongjoon Hyoung (CEO of StoryBlender & Founder of Cyworld) (Korea)
  • Yongseok Jang (Senior Director, eBay Asia Pacific) (Korea)
  • Yozo Kaneko (Director and COO of ngi group, inc.) (Japan)
  • James W. Kim (CEO of Yahoo!’s Korea Region) (Korea)
  • Jimmy Kim (Executive Vice President, Nexon Corp.) (Korea)
  • Loic Le Meur (CEO, Seesmic) (USA)
  • Ram Lee (Head of Communities, NHN Corporation (Naver)) (Korea)
  • Kent Lindström (Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, Friendster) (USA)
  • Shusaku Maruko (General Manager, Corporate Strategy Department, Felica) (Japan)
  • Jean K. Min (Communications Director, Ohmynews) (Korea)
  • Akio Tanaka (Partner, Infinity Ventures) (Japan)
  • Bill Wang (VP of Overseas Business, Perfect World) (China)
  • Andreas Weigend (Consultant & Lecturer; Former Chief Scientist of Amazon) (USA)
  • Kwan Yoon (Partner, Bluerun Ventures) (USA)

Well, for those outside of Asia, some of the speakers might not sound so familar - but tell you what, these are some of the biggest stars from the Asian web industry. Take Comsenz for example - if you are familiar with the Chinese web, you would know BBS absolutely rules in China, and Kevin is the founder and CEO of China's #1 internet BBS company. Or Ram Lee, who is the "hermit guru" of the Korean social web... Do you know what she brought to the world? How about Cyworld Minihompy and Naver Knowledge Search, the two trail-blazing services that forever changed the way Koreans use the internet. Speaking of Cyworld, its original founder, Hyung, is also coming to speak.

The one-day conference will have four sessions, each consisting of talks and panel discussions: 

  • Session 1: Insights and Best Practices. We'll invite thought leaders to share their unique insights and industry outlook with regards to the Asian web industry.
  • Session 2: Innovations in Asia. Speakers for this session will come from the arena where Asia has especial forte, such as gaming and mobile, and will talk about the Asian innovations that could be better understood/promoted outside of Asia.
  • Session 3: Collaboration. This is a session where we will look into the ways Asian countries can collaborate better together, for example among China, Japan, and Korea.
  • Session 4: East meets West. We will listen to the stories from the Asian companies trying to launch into the West, or vice versa, and try to draw strategies and lessons.

Open Web Asia will be held in association with the 9th World Knowledge Forum - dubbed Korea's Davos Forum, the prestigious forum's previous speakers include Colin Powell, Bill Gates, Alan Greenspan, Jack Welch, and Michael Dell. It will be held on October 15-16, on the same venue (Sheraton Walkerhill), so you could register for both and spend some intellectually challenging/refreshing three days in Seoul. For more information on the World Knowledge Forum, please visit their site.

So overall it will be a great conference to attend, to say the least. Again, you can start (pre) registering at our registration page. $200 is a good value - some of us even call it a bargain - for a conference of this quality. There's also sponsorship opportunity as well, and you can subscribe to our blog to stay tuned.

PS. I am especially proud of the organizers - Andrew, Angus, Benjamin, Bernard, Chang, Gang, George, Howie, John, Shun, and Tangos - who has recently been joined by the Korean local team, namely Taewoo, Mina, John, and Seongeun. The chemistry we built over the enormous virtual efforts is so great, that I think we could even do a startup together. A separate post on the organizers will follow later.
TAG Asia, Open, Open Web Asia '08, social, web, World Knowledge Forum

How can web change the world? Gremz of Japan knows one answer

Web 2.0 | 2008/08/06 12:16 | Web 2.0 Asia

This year's Web 2.0 Summit will be themed "Web meets world", in an attempt to look into the web startups that can leverage the web to actually change the world and solve our society's difficult problems, whether that be energy crisis or poverty. (Check out this O'reilly piece - highly recommended.)

From Umair to O'reilly, the big thinkers these days seem to be onto the meme, "Can the web change the world - our physical world - in a meaningful way?" The thing is, there's a Japanese web widget that does just that.

I stumbled upon this Japanese widget via a blogger based in Japan (who writes about Hatena and other Japanese web stuff). It's called Gremz.

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Gremz is a blog widget (which are called in Japan "blog parts") that displays a tree, which grows as you write more blog posts. When the tree grows to a certain level, you are planting an actual tree (physically), in areas like Inner Mongolia or West Africa.

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From looking at the website only, it's not very clear how the economics work here - namely who pays for trees etc. I can only imagine the blog companies are subsidizing this in return for their added content, but this is only a guess and I'll appreciate it if someone clarifies on this.

Anyhow, this is indeed a good idea. When we surf the web or watch online videos, we don’t necessarily think we are contributing to global warming. But surprisingly, the Internet revolution is increasingly becoming one of the biggest culprits of climate change. This is because servers that power the internet consume massive amount of electricity, and the majority of electricity is still being generated by burning fossil fuels.

For example, according to a latest study, a virtual character or “Avatar” on Second Life (a popular internet game) consumes nearly as much energy as a real-world Brazilian does, and annually emits similar amount of CO2 as driving an SUV for 2,300 miles.

With Gremz, you don't have to feel guilty anymore - keep on blogging, and you are planting a tree in Inner Mongolia! Now, who would have thought blogging could make the world... greener?

"Guru's Library" from Naver - who said the company was evil?

Web 2.0 | 2008/08/04 22:03 | Web 2.0 Asia

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Korea's leading internet portal Naver is undertaking a great non-profit project, in partnership with local Starbucks.

The program is called Knowledge iN's Bookshelf (link in Korean). "Knowledge iN", which also happens to be the name for the hugely successful Q&A service, means "guru" in Korean. ("지식인", "知識人")

Under this program, Naver asks gurus from various fields to pick up the best books off their own personal bookshelves. We all know great people are great readers, and peeking into their favorite book collections would certainly be intellectually intriguing.

Then, those books hand-picked by the gurus appear physically in select Starbucks coffeeshops for free reading. (See the top left picture.) The Knowledge iN's Bookshelf website provides links to let the users know which Starbucks coffeeshops have those books.

Despite its huge success and obvious contribution to the Korean web industry in many ways, Naver has been called "an evil company" on, well, more than one occasion - probably due to the company's alledged closedness. But a project like this is something even Amazon isn't known to be doing (Come on, you guys even have Starbucks HQ in town!) and can help enhance Naver's corporate image. Below is a screen shot of Knowledge iN's Bookshelf - these are the books hand-picked by Chan-Wook Park, a prominent Korean movie director. (Seen the Oldboy?)

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TAG Knowledge iN, Naver

One of the best mergers happened in the history of Korean web industry was between Naver, a Korean portal, and Hangame, a popular online gaming site. Naver acquired Hangame to form NHN Corporation in 2000. Until this time, Naver had been considered a fledgling, promising web portal at best. Naver was fairly popular, but was a #4 or #5 player - with the solid leader being Yahoo Korea which looked nearly impossible to be dethroned.

But it turned out Naver was very smart, as the company kept investing the cash earned from its Hangame service into Naver search to make the search service better and better, until it became somewhat of a monopolizing web search among the Koreans. Someone at Naver, most likely its founder and Chief Strategy Officer Haejin Lee, had a piercing eye through to the future and saw that search was going to be the biggest killer app of all time on the web. Buying Hangame was a well calculated tactic as improving search required funding and Naver was yet a publicly traded company, though the company just finished $10mm funding. Hangame wasn't cheap at the time either (valued at some $60mm, with Naver worth about $250mm at the time), but Naver decided to make a big bet on Hangame - and the combined company took off from there.

I recently read a story on EST soft, a Korean software company that recently went through IPO (getting itself on the rare list of tech IPOs lately). EST Soft is best known for its Altools suite of free software. EST charges corporate customers, but still the revenue wasn't enough for them to go public. So they started an online game service, including Cabal Online. Gaming service made up about 2/3 of EST's total revenue last year, and without the revenue contribution of game service, EST Soft wouldn't have been able to go public successfully this year.

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So, from the cases of Naver and EST Soft, one is faced with a question: Is gaming service the proven cashcow for web and software companies? At least in the Korean market, the above statement has seemingly held true. Game services has been to web/software companies what Jonathan Papelbon has been to Boston Redsox - namely, a trustworthy reliever who could help them win.

It's no secret that web services are very difficult to monetize, and I assume this is not the case for only the Korean market. When faced with a right business model, folks have resorted to things like Google Adsense, freemium, and mobile service. Well, how about adding to the list a gaming service, as a sideways cashcow business that can assist the main business by injecting cash? What do you think? Is this a good strategy, or a less desired strategy that only diverges the company's business model? Will this work in other markets like China or the US?

TAG Cabal Online, EST Soft, Games, Hangame, Naver, NHN

A discouraging news for Korean open web movement

Web 2.0 | 2008/07/25 19:30 | Web 2.0 Asia
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Open Web, a Korean web forum led by professor Kichang Kim of Korea University is best known for its fight against rampant use of Active X in Korea, lost a lawsuit against the KFTC (Korea Financial Telecommunication and Clearings Comittee). Professor Kim accused that the Korean government's mandate on the use of Active X programs for the internet banking and other public web services should be lifted, as it is against fair trade and "overly favors technology from a single company (that is, Microsoft)".

Professor Kim has also asserted that as many Korean netizens somehow grew to think that Active X is something they have to download anyway, many of them are exposed to security vulnerabilities. Also, as so many entities including virtually all financial institutes in the nation depend on Microsoft technology in Korea, whenever Microsoft announces an update, the whole nation has to upgrade its internet infrastructure, and this leads to various losses on a national scale - Kim asserted.

But Professor Kim's year-long accusation fell short of convincing the court that the government mandate on the Active X is against fair trade and therefore is illegal. The logic there, Professor Kim claims, was that as the majority of Korean internet users are using the Internet Explorer anyway, not supporting the other browsers is not regarded to have severely deteriorated Korean users' online experience. But this is perhaps a case of "reverse causality" - i.e. Most Korean internet users are using the IE because of the Active X, in the first place.

With this court ruling, now the required use of Active X in Korea is not only a common practice, but also has just become a legal practice. Well, about this, I can only say - the jury's still out there.

Youtube Korea seeing a nice growth

Web 2.0 | 2008/07/24 18:29 | Web 2.0 Asia
ZDNet Korea reports that Youtube has seen a nice growth since its launch in Korea, making the service a third popular service among all video services in Korea.

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Youtube PV (source: Korean Click)

According to Korean Click, a Korean web analytics service, Youtube Korea is doing about 55mm monthly page views, while Pandora.tv (the leading player) is doing about 160mm. Youtube Korea's traffic grew by 66% in the first half of the year, making the service the highest growth entertainment web property in Korea.

The recent success of Youtube is largely attributed to localized content - Youtube Korea has partnered with Korea's local content companies such as cable TV networks. But some people also believe that at least part of the reason why Youtube is popular in Korea is because as a foreign service, Youtube is not directly under the government control.

What % of your front page content is news?

Web 2.0 | 2008/07/15 18:06 | Web 2.0 Asia
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The other day, a senator from Korea's ruling Hannara Party proposed a law that can at best be described as "weird".

According to the proposed "Internet Newspaper Law", if over 50% of a given website's front page content is found to be of journalistic nature, the website will be classified as "an internet newspaper site" and will have to follow relevant laws that are currently enforced on traditional media companies. On the other hand (I think this is even funnier), according to the proposal, if less than 50% of a website's front page content is of journalistic nature, then the website is defined as a "non-news site", and such a site cannot undertake any media activities such as reporting news or making commentaries.

So how do you measure "50% of the front page content" anyway? Or, what if a website filled exactly 48% of its front page with news, if such measurement can ever be done? (According to the proposal, such a website cannot be deemed as an internet news site and therefore shouldn't put up news content on their sites.) All I can say is the politicians *so* don't get it - anywhere in the world, even in this cutting-edge Korean society. I certainly hope this laughable proposal won't pass.

Cyworld 3D launches officially

Web 2.0 | 2008/07/09 14:18 | Web 2.0 Asia
Cyworld 3D, dubbed Cyworld Mini Life, officially launched. Cyworld Mini Life users (who are represented by 3-D avatars) can chat with others, purchase virtual items, and decorate their Mini Life rooms.

It seems all the existing minihompy users are given a new Mini Life, if they choose to have one. Cyworld Mini Life runs on a minihompy-sized screen, meaning the service doesn't use the full screen real estate as Second Life does.

For the time being, Cyworld Mini Life is Windows/IE only - it asks user to download and install an Active X program, meaning the service does not support Firefox or other non-IE browsers yet.

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There's an onine video that introduces Cyworld 3D, which looks quite interesting - but I can't embed the video here as it's embeddable only on, guess where, Cyworld minihompy. 

But the news of the Cyworld 3D suddenly became a tad less exciting, after a host of new announcements made overnight by Google and IBM. Google announced Lively, which lets site owners to design and embed their own 3-D virtual rooms; IBM and Second Life announced 3-D virtual world interoperability.
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