NHN ex-CEO's new service beta launches

Web 2.0 | 2008/03/21 12:38 | Web 2.0 Asia
As I reported earlier, it was rumored that the former CEO of NHN, Mr. Brian Kim, will enter the foray of blogging business. (NHN is the company behind Korea's #1 giant portal, Naver.) Mr. Kim's new company, Iwilab, is already up and running in the Bay Area.

But it turned out that Iwilab's new service isn't so much about blogging as it's about website asset clipping/sharing. (Confirmed by Mr Jun Hur of Iwilab.) So I guess it was a classic example of a traditional newspaper reporter hearing one thing and writing another, completely different thing - when will they "get it"?

The new service from Iwilab is called Buru.com. I don't know where that name comes from - perhaps "bookmark" + "guru"? Or the Korean way of pronouncing "Blue"? (just kidding - but couldn't help the speculation as the site is generally hued in blue).

사용자 삽입 이미지

Buru.com is actually a very simple concept. It's a giant archive for anything you see on the web - web pages, photos, video files, etc. You can directly add items to your buru, or browse some else's saved items and copy those onto your buru. Social bookmark meets RSS reader meets Box.net, perhaps?

사용자 삽입 이미지

The concept reminds me of a popular Korean service called "Nate Tong". Tong means "container" in Korean, and the service is provided by SK - the same company running the ever-famous Cyworld. Tong is quite popular in Korea, but the less desired side-effect is rampant copying of content among the users.

사용자 삽입 이미지

Buru.com is currently in open beta, meaning you can register and take the service for a spin. Frankly, I'm a bit underwhelmed by the service. When you try something out, there are services that "bite", and there are those that don't - I think buru.com falls into the latter category, at least for the time being. (I still like you guys, don't take me wrong.)

But the amazing thing about web services is, of course, you can always improve things as you go on. Buru.com will get only better from this point on - and you should never underestimate someone who used to sit behind the wheel of the world's #5 search company.
EDaily of Korea (note: link in Korean) announced that Mr. Brian Kim, the ex-CEO of NHN, has started a new company that seems to have its eyes on "the next generation of blog service".

NHN is the company behind Naver, Korea's #1 portal and the world's #5 search service (according to Newsweek). Brian was one of the two CEOs of NHN, and his departure isn't such a small deal for Korean web industry - Think Sergey Brin spinning out of Google for a new venture.

사용자 삽입 이미지
The new company, called IWILab, is apparently based in Mountain View and Bundang, Korea. According to EDaily, Brian thinks that blog service is one of the (rare) weak spots of Google, and therefore thinks he has a chance in the global market if he can build the next-gen blog service. For this, Brian is said to have cashed out some of his NHN stocks, worth about US$ 35 million - I'm not quite sure if a blog service startup would require that much of money, at least initially.

Brian's ShouldDo page says he should "forget about Naver and lead the internet world through Iwilab."

As a person who's already in the blog business, I welcome a new competition. Though it remains to be seen if Brian's new venture will make a huge splash in the blogging service market, I wish Brian the best with his new comany.