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2012 Start-up scene in South Korea
Posted May 2, 2012 By beSUCCESS

South Korea’s venture capital sector is flourishing these days, along with a boom in development of numerous mobile applications and web technologies.  According to Korea Small and Medium Business Administration, the number of venture capital firms in the country is around 260,000, which has increased by 11% over the last year.  This growing figure also shows the arrival of the startup boom in South Korea.  As there are more and more startup companies diving into the global market, a lot of large firms from all over the world are paying attention to them.  We at beSUCCESS give you a glimpse into the South Korean startup ecosystem by sharing the stories of 3 successful Korean startups.

TicketMonster was acquired by LivingSocial, the second largest daily deal site in U.S.

In August 2011, U.S deal-of-the-day site LivingSocial acquired TicketMonster, which is one of the top social commerce websites in South Korea.  TicketMonster, also known popularly in Korea as T-Mon, had grown rapidly from virtually no revenue in May 2010 when it was founded, to $24 million revenue in a little over a year.  It also showed its own ambition for expansion abroad by acquiring daily deal site Everyday.com.my that is based in Malaysia in last June.  The agreement between LivingSocial and TicketMonster increased LivingSocial’s reach in Korea and Malaysia.  TicketMonster became an important home base for the Asian Market, which has been difficult for U.S. based companies to enter.  For LivingSocial, the second-largest deals provider after Groupon, it was the biggest of 9 acquisitions that the company made.

KaKaoTalk has raised large investment from Tencent and Wemande entertainment

KaKao, the maker of KaKaoTalk has successfully raised total 92 billion won (which is $81 million), out of which72 billion won was from China’s largest Internet portal service and game operator Tencent and 20 billion won was from Korean online gaming company Wemade Entertainment.  With around 44 million subscribers not only from South Korea but also from some other coutries, Kakao Talk has been the most successful among mobile messenger applications for smart phones that have quickly replaced text messages.  Lee Seok Woo, the CEO of KaKao stated in a press release that Tencent and Wemade Entertainement decided to invest in anticipation of KaKaoTalk’s future growth and also said that all three companies are planning to cooperate in the future in the mobile game and platform spaces.  Regarding this huge investment, analysts also said that this will give KaKao an opportunity to strengthen its business model .  Followed by the firm’s successful total 25.9 billion won investments from private investors in 2011, the deal was the largest investment signed by KaKao Talk.

SK Planet acquired TicToc to be in competitive position in Mobile messenger market

SK planet, a subsidiary of South Korea’s biggest mobile carrier SK Telecom, acquired TicToc. The company announced that in April that it acquired Mad Smart, which was developed and operated the popular mobile messenger application TicToc.  With 10 million downloads in only five months since its launch in last July and 14 million users so far, TicToc is considered the strongest rival of KaKao Talk in mobile messenger application market in South Korea.  This acquisition by SK Planet would back up TicToc to catch up with KaKao Talk.  Analysts now expect TicToc to be integrated with Nateon Talk which is SK communication’s own mobile messenger linked with the country’s popular social networking service Cyworld.  This integration could attract more users to the service, benefiting from synergy with Cyword.

Besides these three companies above, many Korean startups are receiving attention from large enterprises.  The reason why many big firms want M&A with those companies would be their creative and innovative technologies and great growth potential that they have.  There are manyhard-working Korean startups which are very attractive and deserve to get attention from global market.  That is the motivation behind our flagship event BeLaunch which will introduce innovative Korean startups to global players.  To find out more about BeLaunch click here.

 

 

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