[THE INVESTOR] Founder Bang Jun-hyuk has shot up to the sixth spot in the country’s list of billionaires after Netmarble Games’ IPO on May 12.
The game developer is estimated to be worth over 14 trillion won (US$12.43 billion) making it the 21st biggest firm by market value, double that of its rival NCsoft, previously the most valuable company in the industry.
With his 24.47 percent stake in Netmarble Games that is listed on KOSPI, Bang owns stocks worth about 3.25 trillion won. Only five in the country own more: Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee and Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Amorepacific Group Chairman Suh Kyung-bae, Hyundai Motor Chairman Jung Mong-koo, and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won.
Unlike the five, however, the 49-year-old is a self-made businessman. And unlike his peers in the IT industry, such as NCSoft’s Kim Taek-jin, Nexon’s Kim Jung-ju and Kakao’s Kim Beom-su who all went to Seoul National University, he is a high-school dropout.
With only 100 million won as seed money, Bang established the game company in 2000. After a series of hits, it was acquired by CJ Group in 2004 but when Bang left two years later due to health issues, Netmarble suffered as well.
The founder returned to revive the firm in 2011 and successfully steered it to mobile platforms. Its revenue soared to over 1.5 trillion won in 2016 from 7.6 billion won in 2011.
By Hwang You-mee (firstname.lastname@example.org)