[THE INVESTOR] South Korean internet giant Naver, which has recently come into the limelight of the global market with the high-profile stock debut of its Japanese affiliate LINE, is setting its sights on the untapped European market.
Naver and LINE said on Sept. 30 they will invest a combined 100 million euros (US$112 million) in K-Fund 1, a startup accelerator fund that will be operated by Korelya Captal, a venture capital firm established by Fleur Pellerin, the Korean-born French former minister of small enterprises and digital economy who resigned in August.
Fleur Pellerin, former French minister and founder of venture capital firm Korelya Captal, speaks at a press conference held in Seoul on Sept. 30. Yoon Byung-chan/The Investor
“Naver and LINE, both of which are expanding into global markets after their success in Asia, are the optimal partners for Korelay Capital,” said Pellerin in a press conference held in Seoul on the day.
She added that they would create one unicorn, a startup valued at over US$1 billion, in five years through their joint fund.
The collaboration comes after the then French minister met Naver’s top executives last year during her visit to Korea and discussed collaborative IT projects. She played a vital role in running the French government’s startup accelerator programs like French Tech while she was in office.
Naver Chairman Lee Hae-jin (right) and Naver CEO Kim Sang-hun. Yoon Byung-chan/The Investor
“We together will try to create synergies by investing in Europe as well as promoting the exchange of technology, services and experience between IT companies in Korea, Asia and Europe,” Pellerin said.
The Korean duo Naver and LINE are also pinning high hopes on the fresh round of investment -- the first major investment since the mobile messenger operator’s IPO in July -- for them to nurture promising startups in Europe and pave the way into the European market.
“I don’t expect an immediate success from the new investment, but (Naver and LINE) will try to make forays into the US and European markets to serve as a springboard for others that follow the path,” said Naver Chairman Lee Hae-jin, adding the tech firms would seek opportunities by investing in new technology and services other than those sectors dominated by companies such as Google and WhatsApp.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)