Naver will devote investments in technology and contents: CEO

2017.03.29 15:37:29 | 2017.03.29 15:38:05

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Naver Corp. will strive to become a tech company and beef up investment in contents business, pledged the new chief of South Korea’s top internet portal provider on Tuesday.

“When technology meets contents, new muscles emerge,” stressed Naver Chief Executive Officer Han Seong-sook, quoting Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings in her first press conference since her inauguration. “I am fully aware of that the company is at a critical moment now,” citing numerous internal changes the company has gone through in the last six months following Han’s appointment as the next chief. Han’s appointment was approved by Naver’s board and shareholders on March 17.

The web giant has recently introduced new artificial intelligence-based services such as a translation solution and self-driving motor vehicles in line with the new chief’s corporate direction. To stay competitive in the fast-changing industry mainly led by global technology companies like Google, Han vowed to recruit talented engineers, invest in developing new technology and secure funds.

The company earlier this month pledged around 100 billion won ($89.8 million) in capital investment and partnership with YG Entertainment Inc. that manages top local entertainers like Psy and Big Bang in hopes that YG Entertainment will supply high-quality contents, said Han, adding the company will increase its investments in contents suppliers. Although it is still in the infant stage, Naver is currently in talks with YG Entertainment on integrating AI solutions with entertainment contents such as embedding Bing Bang’s voice in an AI-based speaker system.

Han also promised to operate its real-time popular keywords chart service in “fair and transparent” manner as she mentioned the company will introduce a reformed service on March 29. Naver’s real-time popular keywords chart service is a chart on its web portal displaying the top 10 most searched keywords with a 15-second update. The service was caught in controversy when it was revealed that there is an internal guideline stating the chart can be fixed upon state authorities’ requests.

Assuming greater social responsibilities, Naver will run co-existence projects by creating the so-called fountain fund worth 60 billion won - 35 billion won for public platforms and 25 billion for business platforms like launching startups and creative projects. The company decided to operate a fund because it is easier to track the project progress than simply making donations, explained Han.

Market watchers forecast Naver’s 2017 revenue to reach 4.5 trillion won, up 12 percent from last year but Han refrained from stating this year’s revenue target as she said corporate projects may head to a wrong direction from intended paths when a target is set based simply on what the company earns. “When each service division plays its assigned role, the company can expect good earnings,” said Han.

By Oh Chan-jong

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