DECODED X is more than just news.
It’s a weekly brief of critical political and economic events in Korea and their takeaway, created by The Investor staff for an exclusive group of opinion leaders.
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In the meantime, enjoy the highlights of the Oct. 13 issue of DECODED X.
END OF AN ERA
Kwon Oh-hyun and Samsung seemed inseparable.
As the CEO of Samsung Electronics, much rested on his shoulders, and the burden has gotten ever so much heavier since the Choi Soon-sil Gate.
On Oct. 13, Kwon said he has had enough and will resign when his term ends in March next year.
Some say he’s chickening out. The CEO did admit he feels Samsung needs young blood to rejuvenate the company. And that he can’t really see himself chasing new engines of growth.
While the sentiments are understandable, his departure is bound to have a huge impact on employee morale.
Kwon may not be Jack Welch, but he was a much respected figure who led Samsung through some major crises. Read on for this week’s DECODED X.
STEVE JOBS JUST ROLLED OVER
[THE INVESTOR EXCLUSIVE]
Apple is mulling something that its late founder Steve Jobs had outright rejected -- adding a stylus to its iPhone next year.
Jobs had ranted about how he hates styluses. About a decade ago, he famously said, “God gave us 10 styluses. Let’s not invent another.”
But our sources say Apple engineers are working on exactly what Jobs had banned: a digital pen. The new iPhone with a stylus is expected to be launched next year.
And if we know Apple, it won’t be just any ordinary pen. Stay tuned at The Investor for updates.
HILLBILLY GOES TO TOWN
Provincial banks in Korea are just that: provincial banks. They have deep, deep roots in the areas they originated in, and they have loyal customers who won’t leave for established nationwide banks, even in the face of digital banks and apps.
In particular, banks in Jeolla region have some of the most loyal consumers in Korea.
However, things can’t be rosy forever, mostly because the people are frankly getting old.
One bank that’s out to break out in style is JB Financial Group. JB is short for Jeolla Bukdo -- North Jeolla Province.
The chairman of JB Financial is a Yale alumni, and he’s hurrying the firm along toward globalization. Most recently, it acquired one of the top banks in Vietnam.
Adding to JB’s globalization motivation was Singapore’s GIC, which acquired a stake in JB a couple of years ago.
YOZMA’S JAPANESE DREAM
Yozma Group is called “father” of the Israeli venture capital market. It more or less CREATED that market, and now it’s looking outside for more opportunities.
Yozma Korea is already here, and it’s running campuses all over the country.
This time, the firm is in Japan, looking to establish Yozma Japan.
Japan has a healthy startup and accelerator environment, with the government also actively playing a role, such as through funds like Cool Japan Fund.
But like in Korea, these funds and startups have yet to get picked up much by the mainstream media, which don’t see a lot of advertisement potential in them.
THE BIG GUNS
We hear a lot about how Samsung, LG, Hyundai and other big guys give their suppliers a hard time.
Especially for startup-level suppliers, who are in constant fear that their ideas might get stolen, and they might have to close shop. Well, it’s not a Korean thing, it seems. Google and Apple are some of the top companies that Korean firms -- big and small -- supply to.
It’s not just the money, but the fact they they supply itself is news, and gives the manufacturers a reputation.
But these local companies reportedly have quite a tough time working with them, as sometimes they get their ideas stolen after signing non-disclosure agreements.
For firms like Google and Apple which have better technology and in general, a better framework, it’s much easier to float ideas and actually make it happen.
WILL THEY SETTLE?
Medytox, a maker of wrinkle-treating botulinum toxin (BTX), is locked in a legal battle with its much bigger rival Daewoong Pharmaceutical over who found the original strain.
Now, the two sides will sit down later this month to decide whether to push ahead, or settle.
Our sources say Daewoong may decide to settle because when it sought US FDA approval for its own BTX called Nabota, it already admitted its strain was from Medytox.
So a settlement may be reached in what is going down as one of the fiercest and longest battle in the local pharma industry.
While it seems Medytox is correct in its copyright claims, some of the sympathy does go to Daewoong, that had key people stolen by Medytox.
We’ll see if David can beat Goliath.
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