What strategic path would protect Korea’s Kakao from competitive threats and pave the way for continued growth?

Jerry Kim, Dan J. Wang  | Fall 2020
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KakaoTalk, Korea’s homegrown and wildly popular super app, was launched in 2009, shortly after Apple’s game-changing iPhone became available in Korea. In the 10 years since its introduction, KakaoTalk has become the default means of person-to-person and consumer-to-business communication for 85% of smartphone users and 91% of mobile phone messaging app users in South Korea. A victim of its own success, by 2019 there was little room to grow in Korea’s saturated consumer market. Aiming to become ever more entrenched into the daily lives of Korean consumers, Co-CEOs Yeo Min-soo and Joh Su-yong kicked off a round of improvements to and extensions of existing content and platform offerings, focusing on opportunities among businesses rather than consumers. However, Yeo and Joh were also eager to pursue business solution innovations. This case identifies the conditions that provide fertile ground for the success of super apps and ask students to consider the following strategic options for Kakao’s continued growth: the pursuit of AI-based products and services or expansion and diversification of content.

Case ID: 210406

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