South Korean Funding Activity is Exploding While American VCs Struggle


South Korean VC firms raised $191 million in the first quarter of 2013, up from $189 million in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal. By comparison, U.S. VC firms raised $4.1 billion from 35 funds in Q1 2013, which was the slowest quarter for fundraising since the third quarter of 2003.

That’s right, folks…it’s time to move to Korea.

The total number of South Korean startups has doubled to 28,193 in 2012, up from 15,401 in 2008. Successful Korean founders reinvesting their money are apparently strong drivers of the explosion, as mobile platform-enabled startups are especially popular. To boost the entrepreneurial culture, the Korean government will be investing $2.9 billion in technology-based startups, which will also ease the country’s dependence on manufacturing.

So who are these successful South Korean entrepreneurs? Kim Bum-su, who founded the mobile messaging app Kakao Talk, is one of the bigger success stories, as his app has 94 million global users and is offered in 230 countries in 13 different languages.


Another Noh Jeong-seok — who sold the blag platform TNC to Google in 2008 — is investing in five local startups, in addition to running his new app developing company, Ablar Co.