Mes­sag­ing app com­pany ap­points South Korea’s youngest man­ager


The South Korean com­pany be­hind pop­u­lar mo­bile mes­sen­ger app Kakao Talk named a 34-year-old startup in­vestor as CEO who will be the coun­try’s youngest cor­po­rate boss.

Rim Ji Hoon was named CEO of Daum Kakao Corp. on Mon­day. He will turn 35 next month when the board and share­hold­ers will vote on the de­ci­sion.

The ap­point­ment is a bold move in South Korea where top po­si­tions at ma­jor com­pa­nies are usu­ally filled from the ranks of fam­ily own­ers or long-serv­ing em­ploy­ees. All three cur­rent CEOs at Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics Co., for ex­am­ple, joined the com­pany in the 1970s or the 1980s.

Cor­po­rate watchdog CEOScore said Rim will be the youngest CEO among South Korea’s top 500 com­pa­nies. The sec­ond youngest CEO af­ter Rim is 46 years old.

“This event is very sim­i­lar to Soft­bank Masayoshi Son’s ap­point­ment of Nikesh Arora as his suc­ces­sor,” said Park Ju-gun, pres­i­dent at CEOScore, re­fer­ring to the In­dia-born, for­mer Google ex­ec­u­tive who was ear­lier this year ap­pointed as pres­i­dent at Ja­pan’s Soft­bank. “They are both from out­side the com­pany.”

Park said that Brian Kim, the South Korean In­ter­net mogul who founded Kakao Talk and later ac­quired Daum Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, likely made the de­ci­sion.

Daum Kakao said Rim showed his un­der­stand­ing of the mo­bile mar­ket dur­ing his lead­er­ship at K Cube Ven­tures, a startup in­vestor founded by Kim, now Daum Kakao’s largest share­holder and pres­i­dent of its board of di­rec­tors.

Rim spent the last decade as a ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist, first at Soft­bank Ven­tures and later at K Cube Ven­tures. A grad­u­ate of the Korea Ad­vanced In­sti­tute of Science and Tech­nol­ogy, he pre­vi­ously worked at global con­sult­ing firms and Naver Corp., the op­er­a­tor of South Korea’s most-vis­ited online search en­gine, be­fore join­ing Soft­bank Ven­tures in Seoul.

While lead­ing K Cube Ven­tures, Rim in­vested in more than 50 star­tups.

While a ma­jor force in the South Korea mo­bile mar­ket, Kakao strug­gled for years to ex­pand out­side South Korea.

Daum Kakao’s stock fin­ished 2.7 per­cent higher in Seoul af­ter the CEO an­nounce­ment.

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