Yanolja, a leading South Korean travel platform operator, is set to become a decacorn with enterprise value of $10 billion or more after it has raised 2 trillion won ($1.75 billion) from SoftBank`s Vision Fund in Japan, doubling from the previous market projection of its value.
The company confirmed the fresh investment on Thursday in a statement, saying that it will use the proceeds to build a more advanced global travel platform to reach out to global users by focusing on AI-based automation solutions and personalized services through big data.
The final value was doubling from the initial report. Last Friday, the Financial Times reported that SoftBank was in talks to buy a 10 percent stake in the Korean startup for about 1 trillion won. It also marks the SoftBank fund’s second-largest investment into a South Korean startup after $3 billion for e-commerce giant Coupang.
With the investment by Vision Fund led by billionaire SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, Yanolja is expected to expedite its move to take leadership in the post-coronavirus travel market. Yanolja is one of tech-focused travel platforms equipped with IoT, AI, blockchain, and cloud solutions and this is one of the factors that attracted the large-scale investment, said a Yanolja official.
The latest funding has also raised expectation that Yanolja may speed up its IPO process in the United States following the steps of Coupang. But the company official fell short of mentioning whether it will be New York or Seoul.
Founded in 2005 as an information portal for small neighborhood accommodations, Yanolja has been on a sharp growth curve. Last year, Yanolja swung to an operating profit of 16.1 billion won from a year ago over sales of 192 billion won in Korea alone, up 43.8 percent from a year ago despite the pandemic-caused slump in the tour industry.
By Oh Dae-seok and Minu Kim
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