Kakao Talk CEO Becomes One of Korea’s Wealthiest
kpride, Sept. 25, 2014, 9 a.m.
Brian Kim Bum Soo is the co-founder and chairman of the popular messaging app KakaoTalk and has become one of Korea’s wealthiest entrepreneurs. The service was launched in 2010 and ever since has been perfecting a mobile universe inhabited by 93% of domestic smartphone users–or nearly 75% of the country’s 50 million people. KakaoTalk has now made Kim a billionaire.
Kakao is merging with Daum, the country’s second-largest Internet portal, and is listing on the South Korean Stock Exchange on Oct. 1. Kim, 48, will own 40% of the combined company, and analysts predict a minimum value of $8.5 billion. On that basis Kim will be worth at least $3.4 billion, putting him among the country’s ten richest people. In April, a month before the Kakao-Daum deal was announced, FORBES ASIA estimated his wealth at $960 million.
KakaoTalk has evolved into a platform where users can spend time gaming, shopping and social networking. That’s created a highly lucrative technology company in a country that is behind only the U.S. and Japan in total Android-app-store revenue, according to AppAnnie. Overall, Kakao has 158 million registered users, with many of them in Japan, Southeast Asia and the U.S.