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Naver's new goal: 1b users in 5 years

Operator of Korea’s top search engine eyes M&As in metaverse, virtual reality

Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon (Naver)
Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon (Naver)
SEONGNAM, Gyeonggi Province -- South Korean IT behemoth Naver is aiming to double its annual sales to reach 15 trillion won ($12.2 billion) in the next five years and secure 1 billion users worldwide, company executives said Wednesday.

“Naver has entered the ‘Global 3.0’ stage where we create multiple growths through the synergy of various business portfolios, technological leadership as well as domestic and overseas partnerships,” CEO Choi Soo-yeon said at a press conference held at the company’s new office building in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.

“Growing with the cooperation with not just one, but various partners, ‘Team Naver’ will create a new global business ecosystem in Japan, North America and Europe to meet the goal of having 1 billion global users and sales of 15 trillion won in five years.”

Naver currently has an average of 700 million monthly active users, according to the company.

Naver’s Chief Financial Officer Kim Nam-sun pointed out that the company has almost doubled the annual sales in every four- to five-year period in the last 20 years. Sales of the nation’s leading search engine hit 6.8 trillion won last year, whereas the figure was at 1.8 trillion won in 2013.

With the aim of increasing the proportion of overseas sales to 50 percent of the total from the current 40 percent, Kim said the new leadership will have to meet the objective of Naver’s market capitalization at 150 trillion won by doubling sales in the next five years. 

Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon (right) and CFO Kim Nam-sun (Naver)
Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon (right) and CFO Kim Nam-sun (Naver)
The CEO also spoke about Naver’s plans to introduce its entire business portfolio in the Japanese market this year, including Naver Cloud and Clova services. The company will apply its small- and medium-sized enterprise business growth model called Project Flower that saw success with local merchants here to SMEs in the neighboring country, Choi added.

For the North American market, Choi said the company will focus on ramping up the growth content business including its signature field in web-based comics, or webtoons.

Taking the example of last year’s acquisition of Canadian social storytelling platform Wattpad, the CEO said Naver will proactively carry out mergers and acquisitions while making aggressive investments to expand businesses in the areas of the metaverse and virtual reality.

She also said the company will extend the service of Weverse, an online fan community platform where Naver is collaborating with K-pop superstar BTS’ agency Hybe, to the US.

Naver will also strengthen partnerships in the European market on the back of Naver Labs Europe’s advanced technology in the artificial intelligence sector, she added.

Noting that the essence of the metaverse is a shared community, the CEO said the new concept of “vertical metaverse” will be applied in sports services in the second half of this year and expanded to webtoons and entertainment later as the company already is steps ahead in the metaverse industry with Zepeto and Arcverse.

“We think we can create a community for people to watch sports games together (on the metaverse) and talk about them after the game is over,” said Choi.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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