Taking a leaf out of Facebook

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Taking a leaf out of Facebook

After much hype, Facebook shares made a successful debut on the Nasdaq on Friday. It was the largest-ever initial public offering for a technology company, giving the online social network a valuation of 123 trillion won ($104 billion). The eight-year-old online company - which was founded in a Harvard University dorm by Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin - is now more valuable than iconic industry giants such as Citigroup, McDonald’s and Amazon. In terms of market capitalization, the company exceeds LG Group and SK Group combined.

Facebook is no ordinary venture technology and brand that can just profit a select number of investors. On the contrary, it is a cultural and social phenomenon with its global communication platform shared by more than 900 million users, or roughly one in eight people worldwide. In the U.S. and Europe alone, it has created a whopping 450,000 jobs.

Facebook’s success story should not be read merely as corporate splash, however, and meaningful lessons can be drawn from the company’s meteoric ascent to help usher in breakthroughs for Korea’s economic and corporate fronts. The Korean economy, mostly driven by large exporters and manufacturers in past decades, has begun to slow in lieu of any sustainable or reliable new growth engine to generate profit and jobs, suggesting a certain loss of vitality and direction. It must now redirect its attention to new industrial and technology frontiers, taking inspiration from success stories like NHN and Nexon.

High-profile technology figures like Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google, and Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm, have visited Seoul in search of new business opportunities, given that the country has one of the world’s best online and mobile infrastructures - making it the optimum habitat to breed innovation and new technologies.

Koreans also began experimenting with social networking services like Iloveschool and Cyworld long before Facebook appeared on the scene. And SK’s mobile phone settlement system, in particular, has been received with great enthusiasm from people in the U.S.

Such a high level of global interest underscores the huge potential for innovation in Korea. Now it is time to stop envying Facebook and other IT success stories, and look around to create new corporate histories and miracles in this fertile land.
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