High ambitions for the Daum, Kakao marriage

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High ambitions for the Daum, Kakao marriage

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Daum Kakao co-CEOs Choi Sae-hoon, left, and Lee Sir-goo hold up smartphones yesterday showing the company’s new corporate identity during a press conference held at the Westin Chosun Hotel. [NEWS1]

Korean Internet titans Daum and Kakao formally merged yesterday in hopes of creating a mobile lifestyle platform leader.

The new company announced its official launch at a press conference held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul four months after Daum Communications Corporation and Kakao Corporation announced their intention to wed in May.

Daum Kakao will be led by two co-CEOs: Choi Sae-hoon, CEO of Daum, and Lee Sir-goo, co-CEO of Kakao. The two have led the merger process.

The former chairman of Kakao, Kim Bum-soo, who will be the largest shareholder of Daum Kakao, will not participate in management. Kim will, however, continue to suggest future business visions and get involved in other key decisions, including corporate culture.

The new company said its parent enterprises have integrated culturally, organizationally and legally based on shared philosophies of open communication and a horizontal structure.

The merger was the largest of its kind in the local IT industry, and it should have an impact on the portal industry, currently led by Naver.

The merged IT company is estimated to be worth 10 trillion won ($9.41 billion) in terms of market capitalization.

“The Web and mobile are intertwined with people of various types and there are numerous linkages between them,” said co-CEO Choi.

By weaving together the two companies’ strengths in both the Web and mobile sectors, Daum Kakao says it will be able to swiftly respond to changes in the market and maintain a competitive edge both locally and globally.

“The organization will be flexible enough to be dismantled and reformed, according to the launch of new services,” said Choi.

Daum Kakao said its business vision is “Connect Everything.”

“A large number of people, information, things, processes and other things in this world still remain isolated,” said Lee. “In this world of connections that we anticipate, we will seek to create new ways of communication that encompass new aspects of interpersonal and object-oriented communication, creating a new era in the way we connect.”

The company has defined four types of connections to tackle: people to people, people to information, online and offline, and people to things.

The Yellow ID service by Kakao, which allows small businesses to communicate with their customers more easily, is an example of connecting people online and offline, said Lee.

“We are looking for further services that connect people to information and offline businesses,” said Lee. “When Yellow ID and the Daum Map are combined, we will be able to provide much more valuable services. We are also studying how to provide services in the Internet of Things sector.”

However, there are also concerns that Daum’s corporate culture, built over the past 20 years, was an issue in the merger.

Daum and Kakao have not yet had tangible success overseas, while Naver’s mobile messenger Line acquired 500 million global users.

KakaoTalk is referred to as a domestic mobile messenger.


BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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