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Kakao reports healthy profit increase


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Tim Ferguson

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South Korean mobile messaging app maker Kakao Corp reported a ten-fold year-on-year increase in profit in 2013, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

A filing with the Financial Supervisory Board Service in South Korea revealed that the company behind the KakaoTalk mobile messaging platform achieved a 2013 net profit of KRW61.4 billion ($58.0 million), compared with KRW5.3 billion in 2012 (when it reported its first profit).

The company generated KRW210.8 billion in revenue in 2013, a four-fold increase compared with the KRW46.2 billion achieved in 2012.

With the company planning an IPO in 2015, sources told The Wall Street Journal that the listing could value the company at more than $2 billion, with Morgan Stanley understood to be in the running as an adviser.

Kakao has added paid stickers and games to its repertoire as it looks to generate revenue from its messaging platform.

The filing showed that much of the company’s profit comes from gaming, with 84 per cent of revenue coming from commissions in 2013, most of which is from mobile games. The figure was closer to two-thirds in 2012.

According to the filing, KakaoTalk now has 140 million registered users, an increase of 10 million since February.

Sirgoo Lee (pictured), Kakao’s CEO, told Mobile World Live that although much of KakaoTalk’s user base is located in its home market, it is also making progress elsewhere, with 15 million users in Indonesia and 12 million in Japan.

Lee said the company plans to focus on “countries where smartphones are on the rise”, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillippines. He confirmed that it was this strategy that drove the recent introduction of KakaoTalk on Nokia’s Asha platform, which is aimed at emerging markets.

You can see Sirgoo Lee’s interview with Mobile World Live here.

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