[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Venture Investment Corp., a venture capital arm of Samsung Group, has reportedly invested around 5 billion won (US$4.40 million) in Cyworld, a first-generation social networking site that once ruled the domestic social media realm.
The venture capital’s new investment made in July is aimed at securing content for tech giant Samsung Electronics’ platforms running on artificial intelligence, such as assistant service Bixby and speakers, according to industry sources.
Some market watchers also anticipated that the tech firm will likely work to develop an AI-powered news curation service jointly with the social networking site, which once was a flagship service of SK Communications, a subsidiary of mobile carrier SK Telecom. Cyworld was acquired by AIRE, a video communication firm in July 2016.
Denying the rumors about possible partnership with Samsung Electronics, a Cyworld official told local newspaper Edaily that the firm’s priority is to “resuscitate its own services.”
“It is too early to think about collaboration with Samsung for smartphones services at the moment,” the official said.
Although most of Cyworld’s services, such as microblogging, are still struggling due to low user activity, more than 14 billion pictures and 500 million songs streaming on microblogs are still available on the Cyworld site, which has around 32 million users.
Samsung’s investment comes as tech firms in Korea have been rushing to secure content for AI platforms.
SK Telecom has signed a partnership with SM Entertainment, one of the largest entertainment businesses in Korea, to jointly promote and develop IT platforms merged with cultural content.
Mobile carrier LG Uplus spent 26.7 billion won this year to acquire 15 percent stake in KT Music, a music streaming service firm and a subsidiary of mobile carrier KT.
Other tech titans in the software sector, such as web portal and mobile messenger operators Naver and Kakao, are considered to have the upper hand over hardware makers, like Samsung, in the competition for AI services as they have access to a vast amount of data on their own sites and mobile messenger services.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)