Kakao’s 4Q net profit plunges 80 percent on increased costs

KoreaZDNet — Kakao, the operator of South Korea’s popular chat app KakaoTalk, reported a huge loss in net profit on Friday, down 80.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015. Kakao’s net profit was 10.2 billion won ($8.55 million) in the fourth quarter, reduced to a fraction of the net 51.7 billion won ($43.22 million) in the fourth quarter of 2014, the company said.


Kakao to acquire South Korean music streaming company Loen for $1.6 billion

KoreaTimes of India — SEOUL: Chat app operator Kakao Corp said on Monday it will buy control of South Korea’s top music streaming service provider Loen Entertainment for 1.9 trillion won ($1.57 billion), in another push to find new revenue streams. Kakao said it would buy a 76.4% stake in Loen, which owns music streaming service MelOn as well as a talent agency with “K-Pop” artist such as IU, partly by issuing 754 billion won worth of new shares to top Loen shareholders Affinity Equity Partners and SK Planet Co Ltd.


Kakao data handover ends year-long privacy dispute with South Korean government

KoreaZDNet — Kakao, the company behind South Korea’s most popular instant messaging app, KakaoTalk, has said it will cooperate with government prosecutors when they request chat messages, ending a year-long standoff over privacy. The decision marks a 180-degree turn for the company and, to date, the most clear departure in corporate strategy from its former CEO Lee Seok-Woo with new CEO, 34-year-old Lim Ji-Hoon, who took the helm officially during a stakeholders meeting on September 30.


Tencent, eBay join Kakao bid for new South Korean Internet bank

KoreaThe Star — SEOUL: Kakao Corp, the operator of South Korea’s largest mobile messaging app, said Tencent Holdings Ltd and eBay Inc have joined its bid for a new South Korean Internet bank license. Tencent and eBay will make their investments through subsidiaries, which are expected to take stakes of 4% or less in the bank should a license be gained, a Kakao spokesman said. He declined to comment on financial terms.


YouTube Challenged by Local Online Video Service Providers in Korea

KoreaBusiness Korea — Naver and Daum Kakao are actively seeking to take back the local Internet service market of online video services, taxi services, and SNS from foreign companies. In particular, they have appeared to strengthen their position in the online video market by narrowing the gap with their rival YouTube. According to industry sources on Aug. 10, Korean portal operators are targeting the local market by releasing services to curb the dominance of foreign Internet giants like Google.


Daum Kakao diversifying strategies for growth

KoreaKorea Times — Daum Kakao, the operator of the nation’s dominant Kakao Talk messaging service, is on track to diversify beyond its mobile platform for further growth. Daum Kakao has enjoyed remarkable success on its home turf with KakaoTalk and more recently launched services such as KakaoTaxi and KakaoPay. But its performance outside the Korean Peninsula has been viewed as underwhelming.


Daum Kakao launches mobile search service

KoreaKorea Times — Daum Kakao, the operator of the mobile messenger app KakaoTalk, launched a mobile search service Tuesday. It said the new service “KakaoSearch” runs on its messenger app and has integrated Daum’s web search engine and its database to help users look up information on their phones and share with others.


Chinese Government’s Protectionism Hindering Growth of Korean Mobile Messengers

KoreaThe partial block of the Line and Kakao Talk mobile messengers in China since July 1 of last year is showing signs of extension, while Chinese game studios are taking advantage of the local regulation that forces Korean game developers wishing to do business in China to pass through their studios. According to industry sources, the Chinese government is continuing to block access to global Internet services.


Local IT Giants Fighting to Capture Mobile Payment Market, from Korea

KoreaAccording to Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI) on June 21, the domestic mobile payment market has shown a steady increasing trend, already exceeding 3 trillion won (US$2.71 billion) in the first half of last year. Domestic payments have steadily increased every quarter from 1.127 trillion won (US$1.02 billion) in the first quarter of 2013 to 2.355 trillion won (US$2.13 billion) in the fourth quarter of the same year. Also, it posted 3.193 trillion won (US$2.88 billion) in the second quarter of last year.


KakaoTalk users will get streaming video in chat rooms

KoreaDominant South Korean chat app KakaoTalk is getting a new feature in which users can view streaming videos together, including live sports broadcasts. KakaoTV is a bit like a virtual TV in a virtual living room. It lets users view and share videos in KakoTalk chat rooms while they comment on what’s being watched. The videos appear above users’ conversations.


Daum Kakao acquires K Cube Ventures, adds $15M into the firm

KoreaDaum Kakao, the public-listed firm responsible for one of Korea’s largest web portal in Daum and chat app KakaoTalk, has acquired 100 percent of K Cube Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm that backs primarily Korean companies along with a few Asia-Pacific ones. Daum Kakao will add another US$15 million into K Cube’s kitty to launch a new early stage fund, and in the process, K Cube will become the acquirer’s corporate investment arm.


Netmarble proves success outside Kakao Game platform

KoreaNetmarble’s new mobile game “Raven with Naver” is leading major mobile application stores here, shedding new light on market success through a publishing platform other than Kakao Game. The nation’s leading mobile game provider said Raven, a mobile action role-playing game, has been ranked on the top perch in the top-grossing charts of both Google’s Play and Apple’s Appstore since March 17, five days after its release. The game ended the months-long lead of mobile strategy game “Clash of Clans,” developed and published by the Finnish game company Supercell.


China’s WeChat sends a message to Line and Kakao in their home turf

China.gifSINGAPORE: Mobile messaging apps Line and Kakao Talk are busy trying to conquer overseas markets such as Southeast Asia and India. But they may do well to keep a close eye on their home turf of Japan and South Korea as China’s WeChat amasses more users. Among six messaging apps, WeChat saw the biggest upptick in usage in Japan and South Korea last month versus a year earlier, boosted by its gaming, e-commerce and multimedia capabilities, according to data on Android smartphones tracked by Mobidia.


Daum Kakao Tackles Mobile Publishing in China

KoreaDaum Kakao, the largest messenger app operator in South Korea, said Tuesday it will start its publishing platform for mobile devices in China. After entering the Chinese market in 2013, the company now plans to join the mobile publishing business to widen its foothold in the world’s largest marketplace. The company revealed it plans to set-up a publishing task force to help game developers publish mobile apps in Chinese platforms like Apple, 360, Tencent and Baidu.


Daum Kakao considers Internet bank

KoreaDaum Kakao is considering setting up an Internet-based bank as the financial authority decided to allow non-financial companies to advance into the business. “We have an interest and we are positively reviewing the project, but no detailed plans have come up yet,” a Daum Kakao spokesman said. On Tuesday, the Financial Service Commission (FSC) said it will revise regulations on Internet banks to make way for non-financial companies to invest in them more easily.


Google, Naver, Daum Kakao face probe

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) plans to inspect Google Korea and other leading location-based services (LBS) providers over data and privacy protection. It will look into the Korean offices of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Qualcomm and BMW to check their latest updates for addressing privacy concerns. The nation’s dominant web portals Naver, Daum Kakao, along with the country’s three carriers ― SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus ― Samsung and LG Electronics, SK Energy and Hyundai Motor will all be subject to questioning about their privacy policies, said a senior official at the KCC.


While Uber is banned, Kakao Taxi gets green light in South Korea

It appears that Seoul’s government doesn’t have a bone to pick with all ride booking apps, after all. While Uber – whose CEO, Travis Kalanick, was charged by Korean officials last month for not having a license to operate – is banned in the country, today authorities in South Korea approved a new taxi app that will launch soon. Daum Kakao’s taxi hailing app, named Kakao Taxi, seems to be in the clear as it will use only registered city cabs.


KakaoTalk introduces end-to-end encryption for chats following outcry over privacy concerns

Yet another high-profile message app has upped the ante on protecting its user data. KakaoTalk, the flagship app from Korea’s newly-formed Daum Kakao, announced today the introduction of “Secret Chat,” a special type of chatroom that implements end-to-end encryption for for all communications. The company states that decryption keys for messages in Secret Chat are stored on the users’ actual devices, which prevents outside parties from obtaining the contents of the chatroom.


Daum and out: Kakao doing the heavy lifting for the recently merged companies

Earlier today, recently merged Korean firms Daum and Kakao shared their third quarter earnings reports. While still operating separately for the time being, Daum-Kakao announced a total combined revenue of 221.8 billion won (US$200 million), with profits of 30.759 billion won (US$28 million). While overall revenue was down six percent year-on-year, it’s clear that Kakao and games will be driving the newly merged company going forward.


Daum Kakao snooped on citizens, pledges to stop after users protest

For better or for worse, Korea is one of the world’s most connected nations, with about 85 percent of their population on the internet as of last year . Local KakaoTalk users – who make up three-quarters of the almost 50 million monthly active users  – recently found out the downside when the government announced a crackdown on online defamation. This was in light of the discovery of what President Park Geun-hye termed as rumors spreading on the chat app that “divided the society”, according to StarTribune .


South Korea’s Kakao Talk vows to prioritize privacy over prosecutors

SEOUL–The operator of South Korea’s dominant instant-messaging service Kakao Talk has vowed to put privacy before the law and deny investigating state prosecutors access to the messages of its users. The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and various government agencies, including the National Police Agency, last month announced “proactive” measures to prevent the spread of false and malicious online postings.


Daum and Kakao merge, massive valuation puts them head-to-head with Naver-Line

Two of Korea’s strongest players in the mobile space, Daum and Kakao, have completed a merger today, following an initial announcement back in May. According to Yonhap News Agency , the new entity is valued at close to a massive sum of 10 trillion won (US$9.45 billion). Despite Kakao’s market value nearly quadrupling Daum’s, the latter will be taking over former. The report adds that Kakao will be getting a backdoor listing through the merger on KOSDAQ, instead of going public the following year as they initially planned.


KakaoTalk goes into the mobile payment business with KakaoPay

KakaoTalk today launches a mobile payment service called KakaoPay. As the name suggests, it allows users of the messaging app to pay using their KakaoTalk account for certain products they buy online. The team expects KakaoPay to support debit and credit cards from most major South Korean financial institutions. Users can register and use up to 20 different non-corporate debit and credit cards inside the KakaoPay account.


KakaoTalk now has 20 million monthly active users on its social games

KakaoTalk, the startup messaging app with over 140 million registered users, beat the big boys like WeChat and Line to the punch with its social gaming platform, which launched two years ago. Today KakaoTalk revealed how that money-making gaming system is working out. Now KakaoTalk has 20 million monthly active users on its chat app-connected social games.


Tests reveal Line and Kakao disruptions in China mirror the government’s block on Facebook

One week ago, internet users in China started to report malfunctions on popular foreign services Line, KakaoTalk, Flickr, and OneDrive. The disruptions have yet to subside at the time of writing. Media organizations including Tech in Asia have run their own unscientific tests and found that some users in the mainland cannot access or use these services. GreatFire.org, an anonymous organization that monitors online censorship in China, claimed that that these services have indeed been “blocked” by Chinese authorities.


Following Line’s disruption, Korea’s KakaoTalk confirms it’s experiencing issues in China

More than a day after Tech in Asia first observed that Japanese chat app Line was malfunctioning in China, it looks like another mobile messenger is hitting roadbumps in the Middle Kingdom – South Korea’s KakaoTalk. Reports of the disruption first surfaced in Korean media last night, with the first English-language report arriving this morning. A Kakao representative confirmed with Tech in Asia that pre-registered users in China were still able to maintain one-to-one chats but could not add new friends or use other features. Steven Millward, our colleague in Suzhou, was unable to register for KakaoTalk as a new user.


Korean messaging app KakaoTalk to merge with Daum, the country’s second-largest web portal (UPDATED)

In yet another major development in the global chat app wars, popular Korea-based messaging startup Kakao looks set to merge with Daum, the country’s second-largest web portal. The Korea Herald reports that Daum announced the news this morning, and the two firms will hold a joint press conference later today with more details.


KakaoTalk reveals it has 140 million users, made $203 million in revenue last year

TAG indexKorean chat app company, Kakao, has disclosed that its 2013 revenue hit $203 million, netting $59 million in profits. 84 percent of the revenue was generated from commission through games, commerce, and digital content. The remaining revenue was generated from ads. Compared to 2012, Kakao’s revenue grew by 4.6 times while profit grew by 10 times in 2013. Total registered user count on KakaoTalk is at 140 million with over 426 games on its games platform contributed by 217 game developers and partners.


KakaoTalk makes its way onto Nokia Asha

Today the team behind KakaoTalk announced it has made its popular messaging app available for Nokia Asha devices. Owners of Nokia 500, 501, 502, and 503 devices will now be able to download KakaoTalk in countries with access to the Nokia Store. While limited to those four devices for now, Kakao states that it will expand onto more Asha devices in the future. KakaoTalk for Asha currently supports 12 languages. The move onto Asha now means that KakaoTalk is available on a total of six mobile operating systems – Android, iOS, Blackberry, Bada, Windows Phone and Nokia Asha.


Metaps Platform Apps Surpass 1 Billion Downloads

Metaps Inc. (HQ: Tokyo, CEO: Katsuaki Sato, hereafter “Metaps”) announced that the total downloads of apps on the Android monetization platform ‘metaps’ has surpassed 1 billion.  The metaps Platform consists of the DirectTAP, Exchanger and metaps offerwall products, providing a complete suite of monetization solutions to Android developers, reaching the 1 billion download milestone of the total downloads of apps that are on the metaps Platform.