The Korea Herald


Naver CEO marks 2nd year with stable growth, corporate reform

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : March 14, 2024 - 15:18

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Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon (Naver) Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon (Naver)

Thursday marked the second anniversary of Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon taking office. Under the executive's leadership, the internet giant has enjoyed stable growth, setting annual earnings records two consecutive years.

Naver logged an all-time high operating profit of 1.49 trillion won ($1.13 billion) and sales of 9.67 trillion won last year. It recorded 8.22 trillion won in annual sales in 2022, surpassing the 8 trillion won mark for the first time.

Choi has undertaken management innovation efforts to secure Naver's global competitiveness by looking to future technologies.

In January last year, Naver completed its acquisition of US e-commerce firm Poshmark for $1.31 billion. With the takeover, it was able to expand its business portfolio to the North American market and lay the groundwork for the future growth of its customer-to-customer business.

In August, the internet giant also unveiled HyperClova X, its hyperscale artificial intelligence platform, boasting greater Korean language skills. Two months later, Naver secured a $100 million deal with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing to build a cloud-based digital twin platform for its futuristic smart city project.

Market watchers forecast Naver will likely again see record-high annual earnings this year. Major brokerages have predicted that Naver would record 1.7 trillion won in operating profit and 10 trillion won in sales.

Naver went for an extreme makeover of its CEO position in 2021, as it sought a new leader who would be able to foster innovation and bring reform to the corporate culture. The company had been under fire since two senior executives were involved in workplace bullying that led to the death of a developer.

“We will continue to create new growth opportunities by encouraging communication and synergy among organizations, recruiting and promoting talent and actively delegating authority,” she said after taking office.

Over the last two years, the 42-year-old Lee has led stable changes in corporate culture by introducing a flexible working system and providing free meals for employees.

A Naver labor union official gave a positive evaluation of Choi for her efforts to create a “healthy organizational culture,” especially through active negotiations between employees and management rather than unilateral decision-making.

In her third year as CEO, market watchers say boosting the share price will be one of Choi's major tasks. Recently, Naver's price has fluctuated between 180,000 won and 190,000 won, compared to some 300,000 won marked a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Choi is celebrating her second anniversary in a low key, without delivering a message to employees or holding an internal event for her special day. Instead, she is preparing for the upcoming general shareholders meeting to take place at the company’s headquarters on March 26, according to a Naver official.