EDITOR’S PICK
Rakuten Ventures’ Saemin Ahn Discusses Investment Strategy For Asia And North America

Saemin Ahn leads Rakuten Venture’s strategy and investments in South East Asia, Korea and North America. The size of the current fund is $100 million. Saemin previously led a $10 million fund focused on Singapore, Rakuten’s first in the region. I caught up with him in Seoul to find out where his current VC passions are focused. Currently Rakuten Ventures has invested in once Korean startup, file sharing service, ESTMob. On Discovering Startups…

Mobile Game ‘Cookie Run’ from Devsisters Delivers Pay Day to Investors In ‘Secret IPO’

Devsisters, the darling of Korean gaming over the last two years has listed its stock publically in what has been one of the most down played IPOs I am aware of. In fact, so down played that I wasn’t aware of it until today. At the time of the IPO the company valuation was $627 million, ranking the it 32nd most valuable company in Korea. The IPO happened on October 6th. Devsisters…

Can Big Data Implementation In Smart Cities Resolve Issues Raised By Korea’s Ageing Population?
878일 전

Korea’s rapidly-aging society, compounded by a decrease in overall population are major issues that Korea is facing. But according to Cisco System’s Dominic Scott, “the solutions lie in big data and Internet of Everything.” He was speaking at the Big Data World Convention, which was recently held at the BEXCO Convention Center in Busan City. Scott explained that the value of a big data network is equivalent to a square of the…

Softbank Ventures Assesses The Korean Startup Ecosystem

Softbank Ventures Korea is one of the most established and successful Venture Capital companies in Korea. Outstanding successes include Sundaytoz and Sunnyloft (acquired by Kakao), and there are dozens of other portfolio companies that are rising stars in the Korean scene. Softbank Ventures is a 100% subsidiary of Softbank Corp. in Japan and manages a $250M fund. The fund is based in Korea, but they take care of investments across Asia and…

Meet Yello Mobile, Aiming To Be Asia’s Top Mobile Platform Company [Part 2]

Only three years after the first acquisition Yello Mobile has raised $78M, is nurturing an alliance of 35 startups, is profitable to the tune of $1.5M per month and plans to IPO next year. This is surely one of the most exciting startup stories in Asia this year. Here is part two of a two part article about their founding story, growth, and ambitious plans for the future. Click here for part…

Korean Adaptive Learning Platform KnowRe Secures $6.8 Million From Softbank

KnowRe, a Korean education technology company with a cloud-based adaptive learning program for secondary mathematics has just secured $6.8 million in a funding round led by Softbank Ventures. KTB Network Co., LTD, Partners Investment, SparkLabs Global Ventures and a number of other investors joined the round. KnowRe launched in March 2014 after a year-long beta period in which the company hosted a successful pilot program involving dozens of middle and high schools in…

Softbank Ventures Has Invested To Connect Korean Foodies To The Restaurants They Crave

MangoPlate announced today a series A funding round from Softbank Ventures Korea. As described on their Google Play download page, “MangoPlate is your go-to app for discovering the best restaurants in South Korea. Available in English and Korean, MangoPlate will help you resolve your daily problem of where to eat by connecting you with trustworthy people as well as the best restaurants in South Korea.” Ryan Lee, Executive Director at Softbank Ventures Korea…

Yello Mobile – Perhaps Asia’s most Exciting Startup Story This Year [Part. 1]

Only three years after the first acquisition Yello Mobile has raised $78M, is nurturing an alliance of 35 startups, is profitable to the tune of $1.5M per month and plans to IPO next year. This is surely one of the most exciting startup stories in Asia this year. Here is part one of a two part article about their founding story, growth, and ambitious plans for the future. Part 2 coming tomorrow….

Meet These Korean Startups Pursuing Opportunity In China
884일 전

During my time working with Korean startups there has been an almost universal fear of the dangers of entry to the Chinese market. But as Korean founders become more globally minded, and more confident in themselves, fear is being replaced with confidence and success stories are beginning to emerge. In addition, Chinese-Korean relations have never been better, and I expect that in the years to come great opportunities for cross-border opportunity will…

Korean Consumers Swing Back To Apple Thanks To Larger Screen Sizes
885일 전

It has been widely reported that Apple’s market penetration has been waining in Korea, in the face of extreme local competition from Samsung and LG. However, a mobile open market research report from Goodmobile has shown that Apple is perhaps back in favor with Korean consumers. After the release of the iPhone in Korea Apple enjoyed a sustained period of popularity, but in the last couple of years the US manufacturers favor…

Three Updates on Korea’s Messaging Privacy War, Kakao Tells Government “No”
885일 전

KakaoTalk Confirms They Will NOT Comply with Government Wiretapping Warrants A cyber censorship battle is being waged between the private and public sectors. Daum Kakao CEO Sirgoo Lee in particular has been embroiled in the controversy over cyber surveillance. He explained why he will not comply with government demands for records held on KakaoTalk, citing user privacy as his priority:  “I’ve honored court warrants for eavesdropping so far, but wiretapping warrants violate the law….

After Resounding Success in Beta, The World’s Top Couple App ‘Between’ Launches On PC

VCNC, the developers behind couples app Between today announced the release of their PC version. The world’s leading mobile couples’ app was previously only available on iOS and Android. The addition of the PC version will enable couples to continue their conversations on their desktop or laptop computers. “As the leading platform for couples, we can not ignore the 8 hours that couples spend daily on desktop computers. The development of Between’s PC version…

Seven Curated Stories From The Korean Tech Industry This Week
886일 전

  Samsung Ties Up With SK To Develop 5G   South Korea’s top mobile carrier, SK Telecom, said they are partnering with Samsung to develop the 5G industry, seeking early advancement in one of the highly watched mobile sectors. “We signed an MOU to conduct joint research in network technologies and new services related to the 5G,” SK Telecom said. The company currently dominates half of the local mobile market. World First LTE Tech…

Wit.ai Raises $3M Seed Round Led By Andreessen Horowitz, Eyes Opportunity In Korea

As reported by TechCrunch, natural language platform wit.ai has announced a $3M seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz in a deal that has emerged shortly after the team graduated from Y Combinator. The company is tackling a need for smart speech recognition and natural language processing services, which are becomming a thriving industry thanks in part to the boom in IoT technologies. Wit.ai offers developers an API for building natural language interfaces. For startups that currently…

Tribeluga, Korea’s Newest Startup Accelerator, Opens It’s Doors To Founders Eyeing China
890일 전

Tribeluga is a Seoul-Beijing based startup accelerator with the core mission of connecting Startups to new (and traditionally tough) markets, primarily China and the US. Today the company’s President, Lili Luo, launched the accelerator in a glitzy opening event in Seoul that attracted media from across the globe. Dignitaries from the US, Korea and China, including the Mayor of Palo Alto also attended. The event was arranged to officially open the accelerator,…

SoftBank Makes Good On Promise To Increase Its Entertainment Focus, Acquires Korean Drama Fever

SoftBank has just announced that they will acquire Korean TV streaming service, DramaFever, for an undisclosed amount. DramaFever is a five-year-old Korean startup that streams global TV shows and movies online. The company was founded by brothers Hyun and Suk Park which also raised series A funding from SoftBank in 2013. DramaFever has raised a total of over $12 million altogether, since founding. This is the second major acquisition of a Korean online TV distribution…

Korea’s Sharing Economy Rocket-Propelled As Domestic Ride Sharing Service Gets $18M Investment

Correction: The ‘won figure’ for the investment originally quoted was wrong and should be 18 Billion won (not 180 billion won. The fugure of around $18 million is correct. Bain Capital has today announced that they have led a series A investment into Korean car sharing company, Socar. The total investment raised in this series A round is 18 billion won (equivilent to around $18M). Insiders point to a dramatic rise in…

Weekly Korean Tech Round-up – 7 News Items That Caught Our Eye
893일 전

Kakao Talk Promises that encrypted messeging will be available this year Daum Kakao, the operator of South Korea’s most popular mobile messenger Kakao Talk, said it plans to adopt a “privacy mode” in an apparent bid to allay users’ concerns about security. There has been much in the Korean press on this matter recently and Telegram has been making the most of the situation, garning massive local suport in Korea. “The new…

In Korea’s Messenger Market, Will Security Trump Emoticons?
893일 전

Until a couple of weeks ago Koreans had never heard of Telegram, the super-secure Berlin-based messaging app that is now causing waves. Telegram is attracting droves of Korean users away, for increased security. In Korea, KakaoTalk is installed on 95% of smartphones, and Kakao messages surpassed SMS messages a few years back. Kakao is known for its ease of use and expressive emoticons. But now Kakao, which has established a near-monopoly in Korea, is facing a serious…

Koreans Swarm To New Mobile Services, For Music, Payments And Security
895일 전

Edited from Business Korea: Korea is once again proving to be a market where rapid adoption of new tech services (particularly mobile) can occur at phenomenal speed. Samsung’s Milk Music, Kakao Corp’s peer to peer payments service, and Berlin-based Telegram messenger are the most recent examples. These services have attracted hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers in the first few weeks after release in Korea, the world’s ‘most wired nation’….