In 2009, the first mobile messaging app, WhatsApp, was launched. In March 2010, KakaoTalk was officially released and all thanks to the few years that Kim Beom-Su and his Kakao Corp. team spent on developing the project.
The communication app immediately gained popularity in his native land. In just six months, KakaoTalk’s user based hit one million users and by early 2011 the app could boast 5 million supporters.
In April 2011, KakaoTalk had 10 million registered users. The messaging client left behind his South Korean competitors, such as Samsung app and Naver Talk.
Despite the fact that KakaoTalk was doing good, Kim Beom-Su felt he needed to do more. In 2014 he realized that if he wanted to keep on expanding the app’s user base, he should consider different monetization options. The merger with South Korean search engine Daum helped make the idea a reality.
Thus, Beom-Su’s brainchild grew from a relatively small company into a huge market player, that must be reckoned with. Today, the entrepreneur owns 39% of Daum Kakao’s shares. On the first day of its existence, the company was valued at $9.5 billion. Kim Beom-Su is also the Chairman there and member of the Nominating and Compensation Committee.
How and why did KakaoTalk become popular so quickly? It’s all about the approach that Beom-Su chose: he immediately understood that modern people need more than just online chatting, they need to be given more possibilities. This is exactly why KakaoTalk isn’t just a messaging app, but a platform for the sale of various services, such as ordering tickets, buying coupons, games and so on.
KakaoTalk was the first messaging app looking to become a platform, however, unfortunately, his followers WeChat and LINE were able to develop this idea better and conquer a larger part of its potential user base.
In 2014 Daum Kakao found itself embroiled in a scandal for publicly announcing its intentions to transfer user data to government authorities. This caused a wave of outrage among the users, resulting in the company very quickly backing out from its earlier decision and returning the lost audience.
KakaoTalk is still crazy-popular in South Korea. On average, users spend 33 minutes in the app per day – this, in fact, is almost a record figure. The total number of KakaoTalk users is already close to 140 million.