KOREA: YouTube founder to tailor website to local tastes

Steve Chen aims to beat out local competition like Pandora TV by offering more than just a translated version of the U.S. website

The Korea Herald
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

By Jin Hyun-joo

Steve Chen, co-founder of the video-sharing website YouTube, said yesterday that the company would bolster its localized services in Korea in an effort to outdo its local rivals in the crowded market for user-created-content services.

"Even though it is a global site, we want to make it the best video site within Korea," Chen, the 30-year-old chief technology officer of YouTube, said in Seoul.

"(Right now) we can only say it is a translated site for the U.S. version of YouTube. We are going to continue to monitor and continue to work on improving the site and to make distinction between what YouTube.com is within the United States versus what YouTube.co.kr is in Korea," he said.

Chen's visit came after YouTube launched a Korean version of its website on Jan. 23, to help the company tap the market in Korea, one of the world's most wired nations.

YouTube, a unit of Google Inc., has been operating localized services in 19 other nations including four Asian nations such as Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.

Despite its popularity in the United States, the website lags far behind its Korean competitors, such as Pandora TV, in the hypercompetitive local UCC market.

Chen said the U.S.-based company would differentiate its Korean service with the one in the United States and other nations.

In a bid to enhance its local content service, the company forged partnerships with five more local media and internet companies, which make the number of its local partners to 13. At 27, Chen established YouTube with his two former PayPal co-workers in May 2005. YouTube has surged in popularity since then, with the website hitting 100 million videos per day and adding 10 hours of video every minute.

The firm was sold to Google Inc. for $1.65 billion in November 2006. "I think the majority of the success of YouTube was luck and the right timing," Chen said.

He noted at the time it was launched, the world had a high broadband penetration rate and digital gadgets such as cameras and mobile phones which take videos were also popular. "We just happened to launch the site at preciously the right time when all these factors were merged together."

Regarding the lessons that could be learned from his success story, he said: "A lot of people have a lot of great ideas. They have this great idea for new company and new product, but they have been sitting on it for years.

"I think that it is important for them to go out and try to do at least once in their life." he added.