Naver selects new board chairman as well as CEO

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Naver selects new board chairman as well as CEO


Naver’s board of directors on Friday voted to approve the nomination of Han Seong-sook as its new CEO and Humax Holdings chairman and founder Byun Dae-gyu as the new chairman of the board, a post previously occupied by Naver founder Lee Hae-Jin.

Han was named last October to replace Kim Sang-hun as former CEO, and chairman Lee Hae-jin said both himself and Kim would step down from the company’s management in 2017.

Han has also become the first female CEO of Korea’s No. 1 portal site operator, which is undergoing a significant corporate transformation to become an artificial intelligence and autopilot technology leader.

“Everyone in the IT industry knows a one-time success does not last long,” said Han after the meeting. “Naver is looking for new opportunities by changing itself painfully and incessantly amid unprecedented rapid changes.”

Byun was voted to succeed Naver founder Lee Hae-jin as the board’s chairman in the board of directors meeting held Friday at Naver’s headquarters in Bundang, Gyeonggi. Lee has held the post since 2004 and this is the first time he is stepping down.

The industry’s response is that it’s unconventional for an external member to be appointed to board chairman. In many domestic companies, the post is occupied by the company’s largest shareholder or founders.

A living legend in Korea’s venture scene, his set-top box company, Humax, established in 1989, has grown to be a global player in the industry and exports products to over 90 countries worldwide.

“Byun is a symbolic figure to first-generation IT entrepreneurs in Korea and has successfully led Humax to grow into a globally renowned company,” said a Naver spokesman.

“He was recommended to the board with high hopes that he would provide useful advice for the company.”

A source at Naver explained that Byun’s role as board chairman will be closer to that of an adviser rather than core decision-maker.

Han, however, will start her official duties as CEO and actively participate in Naver’s management. She joined Naver in 2007 and worked as services head since 2015, participating in the development of the payment app Naver Pay and the mobile video platform V Live.

Lee will stay on as a board member and shift his focus to expanding Naver’s presence abroad, while Kim stepped down from the board but will continue links with Naver as the company’s adviser.

Naver also announced later in the day that it will invest 100 billion won ($88.3 million) in YG Entertainment, a leading entertainment agency, under the initiative to strengthen its content business sector.

“Our expectation is that Naver’s competence as a platform and YG’s expertise in entertainment content will create synergy in the global market,” said Park Sun-young, team leader of Naver’s V&Enter.

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