SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Korea Bizwire) – Naver’s new investment reports have revealed the IT giant is focusing on funding food-delivery apps and logistics startups.
Speculation is growing in the wake of the recently released investment reports that Naver is expanding its presence in the field of logistics and physical distribution through venture capital projects with online to offline service providers like Mesh Korea, and Woowa Brothers and Sisters, which owns popular food-delivery app Baedal Minjok.
According the reports, Naver had invested 35 billion won in Woowa Brothers and Sisters as of September this year, marking the largest startup investment project to date by the IT giant, which now owns 5 percent of Woowa Brothers and Sisters’ shares.
Mesh Korea was the second biggest beneficiary of Naver’s startup support, receiving around 34.1 billion won, giving Naver a 25.3 percent share in return.
Devialet, a French high-end speaker manufacturer, received nearly 18.6 billion won in investment as the very first European startup to receive funding from Naver.
Following the revelation, industry sources are reporting that Naver is building a framework for possible forays into the physical distribution sector, as part of its efforts to prepare for the age of artificial intelligence and voice recognition technology in the service sector.
As AI-powered smart speakers are expected to be popularized, an increasing number of companies are rushing to develop and perfect features like ordering food through verbal commands, and Naver’s initiative to work with online-to-offline startups is being seen as a tactical move.
“For Naver, which relies on its search engine and online shopping, it’s certain that branching out into the physical distribution sector like Amazon is an option. With the AI technology industry rapidly growing, Naver seems focused on online-to-offline venture capital projects,” an IT industry official said.
Speaking to Yonhap News, Naver said on Sunday it is looking to introduce a new AI-based voice recognition food ordering service with Baedal Minjok.
On Mesh Korea, the company said the investment was made based on the future growth value of the company, and explained it was more of a technology investment.
Baemin, the popular nickname for Baedal Minjok, has been dubbed the ‘South Korean public’s delivery app’ after becoming the most popular food ordering service in the country.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)