In 2022, five startups have made it to the list of Korean unicorns in the first half of the year, bringing the total to 23, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups announced. According to US data company CB Insights, South Korea has been getting more unicorn startups each year and ranks 10th in the number of unicorns.
A unicorn refers to an unlisted startup with a valuation of more than US$1 billion. The five new companies that have reached Korean unicorns’ status are GC Co., the operator of ticket booking platform Yeogi Eottae; Megazone Cloud, a cloud service operator; Shift Up, developer of Destiny Child mobile game; IGAWorks, a big data platform provider, and Oasis, operator of the Oasis online market.
Megazone Cloud is the first Korean business partner of Amazon Web Service (AWS) and serves more than 1500 enterprise, mid-market, and SME customers, including large Korean enterprises like Samsung, LG, and Lotte Group. The Seoul-based startup was established in 2018 as a spin-off of the cloud business of Megazone Corporation. In February 2022, Megazone cloud secured a 130 billion won strategic Series C investment from KT corporation and attained a unicorn startup position.
Korean mobile developer Shiftup Co. joined the ranks of Korean unicorns in July this year. The game studio runs the popular mobile game Destiny Child, which was recently sold in parts to Korea-based venture-capital IMM Investment Corporation and Smilegate Investment Inc. The stake sell-off helped Shiftup’s enterprise value reach 1 trillion won or $1 billion, making it a unicorn startup. The company was established in 2013 by Kim Hyung-tae, who is a famous game artist. The company launched its most famous creation mobile RPG Destiny Child in 2016.
GoodChoice (Yeogi Eottae)
GoodChoice, the startup behind hotel booking application Yeogi Eottae, raised $ 39 million in April 2022 from various investors, including Mirae Asset Capital, KDB Capital and GS Retail to become one of the Korean unicorns company.
Yeogi Eottae is a popular hotel and mobile ticket-booking platform that provides motel locations, hotel reservations, and other travel and space rental-related services. And despite a Covid-19 period slowdown, in 2021, the operating revenue of Yeogi Eottae amounted to roughly 204.9 billion won.
IGAWorks, Inc. is the one-stop gateway to mobile marketing in Asia. The ad-tech company founded on 2006 provides global services for the smart success of digital marketing and mobile businesses. It covers 90% of Korea’s performance ad traffic with 24 million active users, including 16 million mobile gamers in its network.
The company has been helping top mobile publishers acquire quality users in Asia with ad products like cost-per-install, cost-per-engagement, cost-per-action, and cost-per-engagement.
The company is an official partner of some of Asia’s largest mobile game platforms such as KakaoTalk and Netmarble. IGAWorks’ clients include GREE, WeMade Entertainment, Neowiz Games, Mobage, DeNA, SK Planet, NHN, CJ E&M, Com2Us, Nexon, and the Government of Republic of Korea. The company has offices in Seoul and Tokyo, two of the world’s most profitable app markets.
Oasis Market offers a fresh food “dawn delivery” service. The company started with offline shops and entered the online market in 2018. Oasis has successfully linked its online platform with a massive offline shop network. Oasis Market’s corporate value is estimated at 3 trillion won ($2.4 billion). It secured investment from Home and Shopping Co. in February 2022.
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