South Korea’s leading online portal operator Naver Corp. starts anew through leadership change at both board chair and chief executive level.
In a board and shareholders’ meetings Friday, Byun Dae-kyu, chairman of Humax Holdings Co., was endorsed to replace Naver founder Lee Hae-jin as the board chairman and Han Seong-sook as the new CEO to succeed Kim Sang-hun who had spearheaded the company from 2009. Lee will meanwhile be focusing to tap the European market.
Byun, 57, is an iconic figure in the Korean venture community. He started own business in 1989 without finishing his doctorate program in engineering at Seoul National University. He created an editing board for video subtitles that was widely used in karaoke machines. His business started to boom after successfully developing a set-top box for digital satellite broadcasting for the first time in Asia, a job commissioned by Samsung Electronics. His business stumbled during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and was on the brink of bankruptcy. But by 2010, his company achieved sales milestone of 1 trillion won ($884 million). Humax gets more than 90 percent of its revenue from selling products overseas.
Naver founder Lee has embarked on global expansion campaign as the next stage for his company. Having tasted success with messaging service in Asia, he is targeting the European market which is relatively hostile to American Internet giants like Google and Facebook. He recruited Byun to borrow his overseas expertise.
By Oh Chan-jong
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