The digital comic industry in Korea is about to get even bigger with the news that Podotree an affiliate of Kakao has raised 125 billion won. This gives the company an overall 500 billion won evaluation.
Podotree’s function is to manage the upcoming Kakao Page which is a social networking site as well as Daum Webtoons which is a digital comic space. The 125 billion won investment will go into the Daum Webtoons sector. Kakao is hoping to grow their webtoon content through video and digital comics.
Korea has always had a fascination with comic books and with paperbacks dying and digital comics rising, this is a very smart move for the company. The funding was led by Anchor Equity Partners and GIC which is a Singapore investment fund. This move was a counter to their rival Naver’s move to team up with Softbank to build their own Webtoon space.
Ever since Kakao merged with Daum in 2014, Kakao has been on a downward spiral and they are banking on this push into the digital webtoon space will right the ship. Kakao stock is almost down 40% since the start of the year. However, Kakao is nowhere near in danger of failing as more than 90% of Korea’s smartphones have the Kakao Talk app. With Kakao getting into transportation with Kakao Taxi, beauty with Kakao Hairshop, and so on, Kakao is now more than just a texting company. Their goal is to go outside of Korea and into the other Asian markets. It could be possible that the investment into digital webtoons is their first step into trying to expand outside of Korea.