Naver (corporation)

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Naver Corporation
Native name
네이버 주식회사
Neibeo Jusikhoesa
Public
Traded as KRX: 035420
Industry Internet
Founded June 1999; 19 years ago (1999-06)
Founder Lee Hae-jin[ko]
Headquarters Green Factory, Bundang, Seongnam, South Korea
Key people
Han Seong-Sook[ko], CEO
Revenue Increase US$3.65 billion (2016)
Increase US$1 billion (2016)
Increase US$696.5 million (2016)
Number of employees
2,533 (2017)[1]
8,105 (including subsidiaries) (2017)
Subsidiaries LINE
SNOW
Camp Mobile
Naver Labs
Naver Webtoon
Naver Business Platform
Works Mobile
Website navercorp.com/

Naver Corporation (KRX: 035420) is an Internet content service company headquartered in Seongnam, South Korea that operates the Korean search engine Naver. Naver established itself as an early pioneer in the use of user-generated content through the creation of the online Q&A platform Knowledge iN. Naver also manages global mobile services such as the mobile messenger LINE, video messenger Snow, and group communication service BAND.

On August 1, 2013, Naver decided to split with Hangame, a corporation which it had grown together with as NHN Corporation for 13 years.[2] On October 1, 2013, the company adopted its current name Naver Corporation in order to reflect the change. Hangame is now overseen by NHN Entertainment. Naver's current affiliates include Line Corporation, Snow, Naver Labs, Naver Webtoon, Naver Business Platform, and Works Mobile. The company is currently cooperating with IT startups in order to evolve into a tech-based platform.

History[edit]

1999–2000: Establishment and launch of services[edit]

Naver Corporation was first established in June 1999 under the name of Naver Comm. Along with its search engine Naver, the company also launched a service for children named Junior Naver. In July 2000, Naver merged with Hangame Communications Inc. and several other companies including Oneque and Search Solutions.

In August 2000, Naver began its 'comprehensive search' service, which allows users to get a variety of results from a search query on a single page, organized by type (for example blogs, websites, images, cafes, etc.) In September 2000, Naver established Hangame Japan.

2001–2012: Renaming and worldwide expansion[edit]

In 2001, NAVER Comm was renamed NHN Corporation (Next Human Network), although both divisions -- Naver and Hangame -- continued to operate under their original brand names. NHN also stood for (NAVER, Hangame, Network).

In 2002, NHN was registered in KOSDAQ and launched the online Q&A service, Naver Knowledge iN. In 2003, NHN merged all Japanese subsidiaries into NHN Japan. In 2005, Naver began the online donation service: Happy Bean. It also established its US branch under the name NHN USA. In 2007, it launched Naver Japan in order to pursue its search engine business in Japan. Meanwhile, NHN USA officially opened its American game service, ijji. However, it later sold away its 100% stake to Aeria Games.[3]

In 2008, NHN appeared on the Forbes Global 2000 list for the first time. That same year, NHN had the largest market capitalization among KOSDAQ-listed companies before being transferred to the KOSPI market in November. In 2009, Kim Sang-Hun of NHN and Jing-Wan Kim of Samsung were the only South Korean CEOs to appear on Asia's Fab 50.

In 2010 NHN bought Livedoor, a Japanese ISP and blog platform. In the same year, the company moved into its new headquarters now known as the Green Factory.

In June 2011, NHN Japan launched Line, a messaging application that quickly soared in usage. In 2012, NHN announced that it planned to invest 1.5 billion South Korean won (approximately 1.35 million US dollars) in developing ten social media games. In the same year, NHN Japan, Naver Japan and Livedoor were all merged into one company: NHN Japan. In August, NHN also established its Singapore branch NHN Singapore.

2013–2015: Splitting from NHN[edit]

In 2013, NHN launched its subsidiary companies Camp Mobile and Line Plus. NHN is split into Naver Corporation and NHN Entertainment, the latter being formerly known as Hangame. Similarly, NHN Japan separated into Line Corporation (internet services) and Hangame Japan (game services). In June, Naver became the first internet company in Korea to build and operate its own data center, Data Center GAK, which was built in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province.[4]

In 2015, Naver launched Works Mobile for B2B collaboration businesses and merged with Entry Education Labs, which is a software education platform company. In the same year, global revenues began exceeding 1 trillion won (US$909.5 million) due to the growth of global affiliate services such as LINE.

2016–present: Listing and further expansion[edit]

Naver's annual revenue for 2016 was 4.02 trillion won.[5] In 2016, Line Corporation was double listed on both NYSE and TSE. In August, Naver established its subsidiary SNOW. Naver also began Project Flower, a project which aims to support small businesses and creators by cooperating with them on various projects. In September, Naver and its affiliate Line announced that they would invest a combined 100 million euros (US$112 million) into K-Fund 1. K-Fund 1 is a European startup accelerator fund operated by Korelya Capital, which is an investment firm established by Fleur Pellerin, the former Korean-born French minister overlooking small and medium enterprises in the digital economy.[6]

In 2017, Naver established its subsidiary companies Snow, Naver Labs, and Naver Webtoon. Naver opened Space Green, which is a startup space inside Station F, a startup incubator space located in France. Naver also acquired Xerox Research Centre Europe, located in the French city Grenoble, rebranding it as Naver Labs Europe.[7]

Products and services[edit]

Based on the influence of its core search engine service, Naver has also developed new business models in online advertisement, content, and deep-tech through research and development.

Search engine[edit]

Naver was the first Korean web service provider to develop its own search engine. It was also the first operator to introduce the comprehensive search service (which refers to optimized search results from various categories such as news, maps, images and so on, presented on a single page). The search engine has since grown into a website that offers a variety of related services including e-mail, mapping, e-commerce, social media, wireless payments, and online steaming.

Junior Naver[edit]

Junior Naver, also known as Juniver, is a children's search service that began in 1999 with the purpose of fostering a safe internet culture for children. Junior Naver provides various services for children of each age range, such as Pororo Play Time (educational content for aged 3~5), Pany's Room (decoration simulator using Pany Pang characters), Children’s song world, and Children’s story world -- as well as a Disney Zone for Disney Channel shows and animations. The application and the mobile web version were each launched in 2011 and 2012 in order to provide contents in streaming form rather than having to download them. Junior Naver also operates a parental monitoring system that blocks harmful or inappropriate information.

Knowledge iN[edit]

In 2002, Naver set up one of the first Q&A websites, Knowledge iN.[8] The service allows users to post questions on any subject, and select from answers submitted by other users, points are awarded to users with the most helpful answers.[9] In this way, Knowledge iN was an early example of harnessing user-generated content to expand the amount of information available on the web, particularly in the Korean language. Bradley Horowitz, Vice President of Product Strategy at Yahoo!, has cited the South Korean service as the inspiration for Yahoo! Answers, which was launched three years after Knowledge iN.[10]

Knowledge iN also offers an Open Dictionary function, which is a database of informative articles generated by users. Users can create an article on their own, or enable other users to collaborate by creating a thread of articles on the same subject. There is also an 'Ask an Expert' category where licensed doctors, veterinarians, pharmacists, lawyers, tax accountants, and labor attorneys answer users' questions. As of May 2016, Knowledge iN had 100 million questions, 200 million answers, and 47 million accumulated users.[11]

Cafe and Blog[edit]

Naver Cafe and Blog are especially well-known user-generated content (UGC) platforms where users post specialized contents on various themes. Cafe allows users to create internet communities on various topics, and Blog gives any user the chance to manage his or her own personal blog. There were 10.5 million Naver Cafes running in May 2017, making Naver the most visited Cafe platform in the country. 800,000 new contents are generated every day in 23 million Blogs and 10 million Cafes.

Dictionary and Encyclopedia[edit]

Naver Dictionary supports 34 categories, including English, Korean, Chinese, Chinese characters, Japanese, Global Communication, Vietnamese, Uzbek, Indonesian, Thai, Arabic, Cambodian, Tamil, Mongolian, Hindi, Persian, Nepali, Swahili, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Turkish, Georgian, Albanian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Dutch, Swedish, Hungarian, Polish, and Czech as of May 30, 2017. It has the most languages among Korean dictionaries. Handwriting recognition is supported in Japanese, Chinese, and Chinese characters. Naver is also investing 10 billion won for the development of language dictionaries for five years beginning from 2016.

Naver Encyclopedia functions consist of a professional database with over 3 million entries from many different encyclopedias.

V Live[edit]

V Live is a global live streaming platform with high-quality videos and contents ranging from concert broadcasts to V originals (for example, real-time private shows for celebrities). There is also a subtitle service called V FANSUB which allows users to insert their own foreign-language subtitles to the videos.[12] The subtitle feature has attracted a large number of foreign viewers, as k-pop is gaining popularity in other countries. V Live has 35 million total downloads and 19 million monthly users. According to Alexa, as of May 2018 it is one of the 1000 most visited websites globally.[13]

Naver Papago[edit]

In July 2017, Naver launched Papago, which is an AI-based mobile translator that uses a large neural network technology named N2MT (Naver Neural Machine Translation). It can translate text and phrases in six different languages (Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French) by analyzing context instead of statistical analysis.[14]

Naver Pay[edit]

In June 2015, Naver launched it owns payment service, Naver Pay, which allows mobile payment service and online checkout.

Naver TV Cast[edit]

Naver TV Cast is a web broadcast network which mainly provides web dramas distributed by Naver.

Naver Webtoon[edit]

In 2004, Naver Corporation launched its online comic service Naver Webtoon, which is now one of the largest Korean webtoon platforms. The service promotes a distinct infinite canvas layout as well as a weekly update system, and has gained a large amount of traction beginning from the late 2000s. The service received more than 6 million hits per day from unique visitors and had accumulated more than 29 billion total visits as of June 1, 2014.[15] In July 2014, Naver launched a global version of the service under the name of Line Webtoon. The userbase of Line Webtoon grew rapidly after the service was released globally, with 35 million users per month, 18 million among them being foreign users. Line Webtoon showcases approximately 870 works in five languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese and Indonesian.[16] Various movies, Korean dramas, animated series, and video games have been produced based on Naver webtoons. According to JunKoo Kim in 2014, "a total of 189 books, videos and games based on [Naver] webtoons ha[d] either been produced or [were] in the process of being made."[17] Well-known works include The Sound of Your Heart, which was developed into a web series of the same name, Noblesse, and Tower of God. Fashion King and Cheese in the Trap were also each adapted into a film and television series respectively. In 2017, Naver split off its webtoon business into the subsidiary Naver Webtoon, which is also known by its alternative name Line Webtoon in foreign markets.

In addition, Naver Webtoon also manages a web-novel section specializing in online genre-novels since 2013. One of its most famous novels is Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, which was adapted into a successful television series of the same name starring Park Bo-gum and Kim Yoo-jung.

Naver Whale[edit]

In October 2017, Naver officially released the PC version of Whale, its omni-tasking web browser supporting diverse features using AI technologies. Naver had been developing Whale for 5 years and had released a beta version in March.[18] Some functions include: omni-tasking (split-screen feature that lets users browse two sites in the same tab, with an adjustable divider), quick search (users can simply drag a word and the browser will directly provide corresponding search results through Naver’s search engine), and smart pop-up (the browser automatically prevents popups from cluttering the screen).

Clova[edit]

Clova is an AI platform integrating speech and image recognition and artificial neural network translation to provide an interactive engine. Clova is being integrated into Naver and Line services, Naver's smart speaker WAVE and Friends, smart display FACE, and other third-party devices.

Grafolio[edit]

Grafolio is a creative community space where artists can share their artworks. Grafolio supports active creators and connects them with people with the hope that they will be able to meet more fans and make profits.

Former services[edit]

Me2day[edit]

Me2day was a microblog platform that allowed users to share messages of 150 characters in length. However, it shut down in June 2014, due to poor performance against global competitors such as Twitter and Facebook.[19]

Subsidiary companies[edit]

Line[edit]

LINE Corporation was established in September 2000 as NHN Japan, and is nowadays regarded as the global subsidiary of Naver Corporation. The firm manages various services centering on its core product, the LINE Messenger, which is a free communication service available on both mobile and PC devices. Functions such as unique emoticons, stickers, and emojis contribute to its popularity as it has gathered 220 million monthly active users (MAU) in 230 countries since its launch in 2011. In 2016, the firm was double listed on NYSE and TSE.

LINE Corporation also operates the digital curation platform Naver Matome, the comprehensive news site Livedoor News, and Japan’s biggest blog service Livedoor Blog. Other family services include B612, Play, Manga, News, Pay, Taxi, BAITO, and Music. The Line News service exceeds 12 million MAU, and LINE Manga has over 11 million accumulated downloads. There are also Line-branded games such as LINE POP, LINE:Disney Tsmu Tsmu, and LINE RANGERS.

The firm currently employs 1,979 people with headquarters located in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Line Plus[edit]

LINE PLUS (LINE+) Corporation was established in February 2013 with the goal of expanding LINE into the global market. It primarily handles global business operations, marketing, and partnerships for countries outside of Japan. It is located in Seohyun-si Bundang-gu South Korea and employs 1,785 people including CEO Shin Jung-ho.

CAMP Mobile[edit]

CAMP Mobile was established in March 2013 and focuses on developing mobile services. While it originally began as a small venture project, Camp Mobile launched over 10 different apps in areas such as utilities, social networking, and e-commerce within four months of its establishment.

BAND, CAMP Mobile's first app released in August 2012, is a closed type of social network where groups can be formed according to type and purpose. The app has more than 80 million downloads with global users accounting for 30% of the user base, and currently supports 10 languages in over 168 countries. Band Game was also released in May 2014 to provide a competitive platform for both users and game companies. According to a survey conducted by the app data analysis firm Wiseapp in September 2017, Naver BAND is the second most-used social media service app for South Korean users, after Facebook. Its total usage time was 29 million hours, which was a 32 percent increase from the previous year. Naver Café came in third place, outperforming Instagram, Daum Café, Twitter, and Kakao Story.[20]

In 2015, the company also presented Watchmaster, an app that allows users to select their own smart watch home screen.

In November 2017, it was announced that Camp Mobile would be merged back into Naver Corporation in February 2018.[21]

SNOW[edit]

SNOW Corporation develops a photo and video application called SNOW, which is considered somewhat similar to Snapchat, since both apps suggest video as an alternative communication tool rather than text. SNOW first began in September 2015 as a guerilla project in CAMP Mobile, but has spun off into its own company as of 2016 in order to give more focus to the global visual communication market.[22] SNOW allows users to take pictures or videos (of a maximum duration of 10 seconds) and choose from 1,300 stickers and 50 filters. They can also send them as messages that destroy themselves in 48 hours. The application has over 200 million users, mainly consisting of teenagers in Asian countries.

The firm is led by CEO Kim Chang-wook and its office is located in Pangyo, South Korea with approximately 200 employees.

Naver Labs[edit]

NAVER LABS Corp. is Naver's R&D subsidiary developing future technologies in areas such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence with the goal of achieving Ambient Intelligence. It first began as an R&D division within Naver in 2013, and was officially established in Pangyo in January 2017 with CEO Song Chang-Hyeon. Naver Labs has been working in areas such as Papago (an AI-based translation app), Whale (an omni-tasking browser), and robots. Products include the autonomous robot Around,[23] the in-vehicle information and entertainment platform Away,[24] as well as an autonomous vehicle project.[25]

Naver Labs Europe[edit]

In August 2017, Naver Labs acquired Xerox Research Center Europe (XRCE) for an undisclosed amount and renamed it Naver Labs Europe.[26] Naver said that the acquisition of the high-tech research center located in Grenoble, France earned the company 80 specialists in AI research and development and technologies necessary to "realize 'living environment intelligence' such as autonomous driving cars and 3-dimensional indoor map production robots".[27]

Naver Business Platform[edit]

NAVER Business Platform (NBP) provides global IT infrastructure management and enterprise solutions for Naver and its subsidiaries. NBP has launched a cloud service called Naver Cloud Platform, and has also created an environment-friendly Data Center called GAK, which was a first for a domestic internet operator.

The Data Center GAK was opened in June 2013 in order to protect the data of several million users in its servers. It consists of 4 server buildings built on a scale of 7 soccer stadiums (54,229m2). The name of the center comes from ‘Jang Gyung Gak’, a traditional building that houses the famous Tripitaka Koreana. Jang Gyung Gak is respected for having safely protected important historical records even in the face of foreign invasion, and continues to preserves them in a manner that is both environmentally friendly and scientifically renown. Likewise, it is said that the Data Center Gak inherits this spirit of protection and provides safe housing for current historical records so that they can be passed on to the future. The Center incorporates environmentally friendly technology that cools the heat generated from the servers, and in 2009, it has received the top LEED platinum award with 95 points, which is the highest score in the world for a data center.

Works Mobile[edit]

Works Mobile Corporation provides a cloud-based office service called Line Works for B2B purposes. Functions include mail, calendar, address Book, N-drive, and web-office. Works Mobile has users mainly in Korea and Japan, but also targets the global B2B market with help from operation know-how of NBP(Naver Business Platform) and Naver.

Projects and foundations[edit]

Happy Bean Foundation[edit]

Happy Bean began as Korea's first online donation platform in July 2005, connecting potential contributors with public organizations in need of assistance. Its concept was to make online donating easier and more convenient by using a special digital currency called 'beans', while also providing information about social welfare organizations and various donation campaigns. Ever since, Happy Bean has led a new donation trend where users can donate on a daily basis more easily, without having to go through complicated processes. The Happy Bean Foundation was established in May 2009 in order to handle the overall business operations of Happy Bean. As of October 2017, the foundation has received a total donation of 75 billion won with 14 million participants and about 6 thousand participating organizations.

Deview[edit]

Deview is a conference hosted by Naver since 2008, where developers from various countries share their technical knowledge and experience. Through several dozens of sessions, participants share in-depth knowledge in fields such as web, mobile, AI, big data, deep learning, robotics, and more. In 2017, 2,500 tickets went out in 15 seconds.[28]

Cultural Foundation[edit]

Naver Cultural Foundation, officially established in 2009, is devoted to creating online and offline cultural spaces where people can rediscover and discuss various forms of culture such as books. In 2010, the Naver Cultural Foundation launched a support program for indie musicians. In November of the same year, the foundation opened an online platform called 'Onstage' to introduce new up-and-coming indie bands.[29]

Connect Foundation[edit]

Connect Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization established by Naver in 2011. It serves public interest by providing equal educational opportunities for everyone. It promotes the dissemination of IT education as well as basic science and engineering education projects. Programs include public online classes, software training, math/science education, and design courses. In September 2017, Naver announced plans to donate 7 billion won (6.2 million dollars) to the Connect Foundation. As a result, Naver's total amount of donations to the Connect Foundation accumulated to 12 billion won (10.6 million dollars).[30]

D2 Startup Factory[edit]

D2 Startup Factory (D2SF) is an investment project that was launched in May 2015 with the goals of vitalizing the domestic tech start-up environment and fostering talents. As of 2017, it has invested in 16 start-ups with notable technical skills in areas such as AI, hardware, VR/AR and IoT. For example, in August 2017, it announced its investments in AI startups Furiosa AI, Deepixel, and CrowdWorks.[27] In September of the same year, D2SF held a Demo Day where it presented four start-ups that they were also investing in: Buzzmusiq (social visual playlist platform), Elice (online education platform for coders), Widevantage (producer of smart pens for iPad), and The Wave Talk (technology that automatically filters bacteria and drains contaminants from running water).[31]

Project Flower[edit]

In 2016, Naver launched Project Flower, the company’s long-term project to provide platform services that small enterprises and content creators can utilize to maximize benefits and reap success.[32] As a business and content platform, Naver has 1.6 million local businesses, more than 400 professional webcomic authors, 150 web novel writers, 10,000 illustrators and 3,300 indie musicians. By providing more support for small businesses, the company said that it aims to attract more than 10,000 new small businesses to its platform every year and predicts that over 1,500 of them will earn more than 100 million won each in annual sales.[33] For content creators, Naver helps them work in a sustainable environment and ultimately encourages them to go global as a way to motivate their creativity. To do so, Naver has expanded the application of its illustration content platform Grafolio to include not only illustrations but also photography, design, art and background music. It also holds original content exhibitions and events such as Creators' Day. Naver also diversifies the income structure of content creators by matching them with investors through crowdfunding and by connecting them to digital content marketplaces.[34]

Corporate affairs and culture[edit]

Employees and culture[edit]

As of 2017, Naver has 2,533 employees (8,105 including subsidiaries).[35] In 2014, Naver was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellent Enterprise in equal employment division by the ministry of Labor.

Green Factory[edit]

Green Factory Library
Green Factory Louvers

Naver's headquarters, located in Bundang-gu Seongnam-si of South Korea, is referred to as the Green Factory.

The construction of the Green Factory was completed in March 2010 with 27 floors above ground and 7 floors underground. The interior of the building was designed to provide as open an environment as possible, where the company's culture and values would be reflected. The intent was to create a working space which fosters better communication between employees.

Green Factory’s office spaces are designed like pods, which focus on a central open meeting area. Most of the central meeting spaces have non-traditional furniture and match the casual atmosphere represented throughout the rest of the interior. The emergency stairs sport different patterns or designs instead of the typical painted concrete finish. The building also has special facilities including a library and a magazine area, which are both open to the public, a cafeteria, an exercise center, and a healthcare center.

The steel and glass façade houses adjustable vertical louvers which restrict or allow sunlight to enter the building. The louvers are automatically closed and opened at times of sunrise and sunset, allowing the building to save energy. On special occasions, the façade displays different images such as the company's logo. Internal light is selectively blocked by a nocturnal automated louver system.[36]

The building is certified as 'platinum' under the global green building design rating system LEED.[37]

Global offices[edit]

Naver currently holds global offices in Japan, US, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Thailand.[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]