Kim Beom-soo is a South Korean billionaire businessman, who created two successful ventures from scratch, Hangame Communications and KakaoTalk. His rags to riches tale is an inspiration for many. Now let’s talk about 15 things about this successful businessman which you did not know.
Kim grew up in poverty and shared a bedroom with his family of eight. He is married to Hyeong Mi-seon with two children and lives in Seoul, South Korea. He likes to play online games with his wife and children in his free time.
Kim did his Bachelor of Science in engineering and Master of Science from Seoul National University. He was the first in his family to go to college. To pay for college he took private tuitions and at times even skipped meals to save money.
3.Worked at Samsung
Kim’s worked at Samsung’s IT services unit and developed an online communication service there, he worked there as a software engineer. When he joined Samsung SDS the same year Lee Hae-jin the founder of Naver also joined.
Kim left Samsung in 1997 after working there for five years. He wanted to do something big.
On leaving Samsung Kim opened up an internet café in Seoul and named it Mission No 1. He started developing online social casino games. Mission No 1 became the largest internet café of that time. Kim developed software programs while running his café. One of them being a management system for computers required at an internet café. By selling the system to internet café operators across the country, he and his team grew to become Mediaweb, which was a marketing firm for PC cafes.
While running his internet café he developed Hangame in 1998. It was South Korea’s first online game portal and in one and half years only it had more than 10 million registered users.
Kim founded Hangame Communications which provided easy to play online games with quality graphics; it targeted young people who visited internet café frequently.
Within five months Hangame with its hit games had more than 10 million numbers of subscribers.
Hangame merged with search engine Naver in 2001 and became country’s dominant web portal NHN. Naver was founded by Kim’s friend and rival Lee Hae-jin. Kim co-chaired the joint venture NHN. Naver became the top portal and with time Kim lost footing within the company and he left NHN in 2009 stating that
“A ship is safe in the harbor, but that is not what ships are built for.”
7.Tried his hand in U.S.
Kim moved to Silicon Valley in 2005 heading NHN for five years. He wanted that the company should make a presence in the U.S. in the gaming world. Kim realized that it was not as easy as it seemed and so he stepped down in 2007. While he was in California, iPhone was launched and that left him mesmerized. He came back to South Korea and started developing apps for iPhone two years before it was introduced in the country.
Kakao was launched in 2010. Kim asked his team members as to what kind of apps should be in a smartphone and after a proper discussion they reached a conclusion that a smartphone was a means of communication so he divided his team. Each team developed an app and the best app was chosen which Kakao was, a mobile messenger application.
In 2015 South Korean government classified Kakao as a large company. Making its place in the big leagues it was the first tech startup.
In 2014, Kakao merged with Daum Communications by acquiring it. It was the country’s second largest Web portal in an all-stock transaction worth $3.3 billion. The merger was the birth of an IT giant. As a result of this Kim joined the billionaire club of self-made IT entrepreneurs.
10.Establishing new platform
Kim shifted his focus on establishing a new platform built by Kakao. Kakao became the most used mobile messenger and offers more services including a mobile payment platform, a taxi service, an e-commerce platform, an internet bank and a search engine. It starts online-to-offline services such as KakaoTaxi and KakaoDriver.
11.Pressure by government
Kim’s company Kakao came under the spotlight as it was under a lot of pressure from the government to monitor digital communication in relation to distribution of child pornography and criminal activities.
In 2015, they gave in to the government badgering which included an intense tax investigation and allegations of Kim’s gambling regularly in Las Vegas. The company said it would monitor criminal suspects messages complying with prosecutor’s request
Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office had received documents from the US Department of Justice which indicated that Kim had engaged in some high-stakes gambling at casinos in Las Vegas between 2007 and 2013.
In 2017, Kim diversified his portfolio. He made his presence in the crypto market as he bought into Upbit through his holding company KCube Ventures. Upbit is South Korea top crypocurrecy exchange.
13.Making it to Forbes
Kim has been on Forbes list such as:
- No 10- Korea’s 50 Richest 2019.
- No 1057- Billionaires 2019.
- No 92- Richest in Tech 2017
14.Kim wants to develop 100 tech startups
Kim has a personal ambition to develop 100 tech startups. Through his two venture capital firms he has already invested in more than 70 startups. With successful internet entrepreneurs like Kim investing part of their wealth in start-ups and the government easing the country’s economic reliance on chaebol and backing ventures the funding environment of South Korean start-ups has improved.
Kim has a net worth of $3.5 billion as of 23rd January 2020.