One does not normally associate tech M&As with political strife. But the left leaning Daum and right leaning Kakao are facing exactly these issues on the day they announce their successful merger. Daum is Korea's second largest internet portal that was acquired earlier this summer by Korea's largest social messeging applilcation, Kakao.
Daum is generally acknowledged to be skewed to the left on the political spectrum, whereas Kakao was previously caught up in controversy over courting the conservative camp. According to Business Korea "political tendencies may continue to be a big burden for the merged company."
Kakao is currently installed on around 96% of Korea's smartphones and as such their ability to influence public opinion is considered to be significant. President Park of Korea also recently announced news regulations that enable the government to monitor private online chat, including private messages on Kakao Talk. A growing number of people are worried about the possibility that Kakao will use its merger with Daum as political leverage, extending their political influence to web as well ass mobile.
According to teh article on Business Korea, "The ruling party already pointed out the political slant of a new service called Kakao Topic, while the opposition party said that KakaoTalk is being utilized as a method to deliver the messages of conservative groups."
“KakaoTalk can deliver messages very fast through group chat rooms,” said the Publicity Committee of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy in its report on Kakao. The report added, “Conservative groups tend to organize the creation and distribution of wrong information via Kakaotalk.”
Despite these public concerns, Daum Kakao released a statement today detailing their successful merger, exerpts of which are below. Time will tell how things go from here, and we'll be sure to kee you updtaed.
"The company has defined four types of connections to tackle; people to people, people to information, online to offline and people to things. Focusing on these forms of connections, Daum Kakao plans to create an environment of real-time interconnectivity by leveraging the overwhelming user traffic and combined experience of bringing innovations to the world. Daum Kakao believes this is what will present new experience and value to the users."
"Daum Kakao also revealed its ambition to create a mobile ecosystem where Daum Kakao grows along with its partners. It is through this symbiotic platform that it plans to generate additional opportunities that offer convenience and shared value to users and third parties alike."
Saehoon Choi, co-CEO of Daum Kakao said, “Building on the experience Daum Kakao has in spearheading advancements in the web and mobile realms, we plan to take a meaningful leap, along with our partners, into what lies ahead by strategically responding to the needs of future generations. We hope that the innovation we create together will provide significant value to the lives of our users.”
Sirgoo Lee, co-CEO of Daum Kakao commented, “A large number of people, information, things, processes and more in this world still remain isolated. In this world of connections that we anticipate, we will seek to create new ways of communication that encompass new aspects of interpersonal and object-oriented communication, creating a new era in the way we connect.”