Google makes strategic investment in Kakao's mobility service wing

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : April 1, 2021, 15:06 | Updated : April 1, 2021, 17:44

[Courtesy of Kakao Mobility]

SEOUL -- The mobility service wing of Kakao, a major web service company involved in a variety of technology-related businesses in South Korea, secured a strategic investment of 56.5 billion won ($49.9 million). The two companies would discover new business opportunities and present growth engines in domestic and foreign markets.

Google International LLC will acquire 970,848 new shares to control a 1.69 percent stake in Kakao Mobility, the South Korean company said in a regulatory filing on April 1. Google and Kakao Mobility would upgrade cloud-based artificial intelligence technology and cooperate in cloud and internet of things (IoT). They would seek ways to synergize Google services and Kakao Mobility's platform and cooperate on various operating system software.

"We will maximize synergy to grow into a global key player through long-term cooperation with Google and play a role as a hub to help competent Korean companies realize innovative services," said Kakao Mobility CEO Ryu Gung-seon.

Kakao Mobility has diversified its business portfolio since it launched a smartphone app-based taxi-hailing service in 2015. Kakao T, a one-stop mobility service app, is Kakao Mobility's main service channel that offers a designated driver service, a taxi-hailing service, a car park reservation service, and a public transport information service. There were about 5.8 million Kakao T monthly users in 2020.

In February, Carlyle Group, an international investment firm, agreed to invest $200 million in Kakao Mobility. A month later, Kakao Mobility acquired Delivery Car, a car-sharing mobility service company run by Hyundai Capital, which has delivered rent cars to the doorstep of customers.

Unlike conventional rent-a-car services, car-sharing services target young customers who only need to borrow cars for a short time. New services mainly charged customers by the distance they drove and payments are made through dedicated smartphone apps.
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