Naver's new CEO sets sights on world
Shareholders of Naver approved the appointment of Choi Soo-yeon, a Harvard Law School-graduate who headed the company’s overseas business, as CEO Monday, hoping to bolster the company's global ambitions.
The 41-year-old will replaced Han Seong-sook Monday, cutting her term short. It was supposed to end in 2023.
“All of Naver’s businesses are have been designed to serve the global markets from the beginning and the end goal has also been going global,” said Choi in a statement.
“Ever since I came back to Naver two years ago to direct overseas expansion, I have been assured of intense interest and positive assessments from global tech players and partners,” she said.
Choi joined Naver, then called NHN, in 2005 after graduating from Seoul National University's College of Engineering. She worked in communications and marketing for four years before going to law school at Yonsei University.
After the board exams, she worked as an attorney at Yulchon LLC, where she specialized in M&As and corporate law. She earned an LL.M Master of Laws from Harvard Law School in 2018 and rejoined Naver in November 2019.
She didn’t specifically mention which businesses would be her focus overseas but gave some hints.
“Naver will turn itself into an incubator for new services that surpass Line, webtoons and Zepeto, the global brands developed by Naver executives and employees,” her statement read.
Naver's webtoon service had more than 82 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of January. Over 10 million users are in the North America region.
To further accelerate its growth in North America, Naver reorganized its corporate structure in 2020 to designate its U.S. subsidiary as the main unit for its webtoon business.
Webtoon Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based entertainment subsidiary of Naver, now acts as the head office for the digital comics segment, controlling Naver Webtoon, a wholly-owned subsidiary in Korea, and Line Digital Frontier, a Japan-based subsidiary of Line Manga.
Another area that will likely receive a boost in coming years is Naver's cloud computing service as it looks to expand in Southeast Asia.
Naver vowed to invest 80 percent of annual sales from Naver Cloud, the affiliate responsible for the business, into personnel recruitment and research and development of advanced cloud technologies with an aim of entering Asian countries. The company cited Indonesia and Vietnam as initial target markets.
Choi also promised to work on improving Naver's corporate culture.
“To take a leap forward, the impending task is to restore corporate culture based on autonomy and trust,” Choi said.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [email@example.com]