The Korea Herald


Yanolja makes big cloud push for US listing

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : March 5, 2024 - 15:37

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Yanolja headquarters in southern Seoul (Yanolja) Yanolja headquarters in southern Seoul (Yanolja)

South Korean travel platform operator Yanolja is making a big push in cloud services, as it seeks to transform itself into a global tech solutions provider. As the company accelerates the expansion of its overseas solutions business, market watchers and investors are paying keen attention to whether the company will go public on the US stock market this year.

According to industry sources on Tuesday, Yanolja is preparing for an initial public offering on either the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq as early as the second half of this year. The company is likely to receive a listing valuation of at least 10 trillion won ($7.5 billion), while its valuation in the local over-the-counter market is around 5.3 trillion won at the moment.

The 19-year-old company has seen cloud solutions business as its future growth engine, as it aims to lead innovation in the global travel market by combining the key business of travel with technologies such as cloud and generative artificial intelligence through big data. Within four years of actively beginning its cloud solution business in 2019, it acquired Israel-based business-to-business travel solution provider Go Global Travel last year and expanded its global presence.

With $1.7 billion in funding from SoftBank Vision Fund 2 in 2021, the company accelerated the expansion of its overseas solutions business. The company says it has 49 regional offices in 31 countries and research and development centers in five countries so far. As of 2022, it supplied over 80,000 solution licenses to over 170 countries, and the number has since expanded to over 200 countries.

As a result, the company posted a profit in earnings for the first time in the third quarter last year. Sales in the cloud sector alone increased 112 percent on-year to 64.9 billion won, with an operating profit of 9.2 billion won. The cloud sector's share in total sales also doubled over the past two years from 10.2 percent in 2021 to 22.1 percent in the October-December period last year.

"We're building a global business structure by exporting solution software by utilizing the cloud environment spread around the world and improving services by securing data in digitally converted spaces. Rather than simply earning foreign currency, we focus on securing global data and establishing a foundation for data sovereignty," a Yanolja official said.

However, regarding the company's IPO plan the official declined to comment, saying "it is not the right time" to talk about such issues.

An anonymous analyst working at a local brokerage firm told The Korea Herald that Yanolja overcame the demographic limitations of the domestic lodging market and diversified its portfolio into businesses other than the highly competitive lodging reservation platform service amid COVID-19.

The analyst, however, highlighted that it would be necessary to pay attention to the company's growth potential in limited business-to-business cloud sales to the travel industry despite the promising cloud market, rather than its IPO market destination. "Its earnings from cloud business still do not take up a large portion of its companywide sales."