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South Korean internet giant Naver Corp launches $43 million fund with Japan's Softbank

By November 16, 2016 at 12:08 pm
South Korea Becomes Better In International Trade Than Japan, China (Photo : Chung Sung-Jun | Getty Images News)

South Korean internet giant Naver Corporation launched on Monday a $43 million fund with Japan's Softbank Group Corp to invest in technology and internet content startups.

The hefty fund will be used to seek new talent and technology for Naver Corp's mobile services with global ambitions, said the company. Since the Line mobile messenger app's initial public offering in July, in a rare worldwide success story for the Asian phone service from South Korea, Naver Corp seeks to spin off some services into an independent unit.

The company spun off its video communications app Snow into an independent unit in August in an attempt to replicate the success of the Line app. Similar to Snapchat, Snow has become one of the most used and most popular social media apps among younger Asians since its launching in September last year.

Kim Chang-wook, chief of Naver Corp's Snow, stated that he will scout for technology firms that can add fun, creative twists to its video app.

Chiefs at two of the internet giant's popular mobile services, Naver Webtoon and Snow, will take part in the investment fund as advisers. SoftBank will run the fund, to which Naver Corp will contribute $34 million. The fund will support creators of online cartoons and videos using virtual reality or similar technologies, said Softbank's director Lee Joonpyo.

According to Lee, one of the firms that he is reviewing for a potential investment can provide a high-level voice changer. Just as Snow enables users to alter faces through its face-changing software, the voice-changing technology will offer a new twist, he added.

Naver Corp is the parent company of the Line app, which netted $1.1 billion in its initial public offering in July. The company, however, is struggling to find its appeal to global audiences as it has to compete with more popular entities like Facebook and YouTube.

The investment fund is Naver's latest attempt to seek early-stage startups outside the firm to help the worldwide expansion of Naver's various mobile services.

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