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Chat App Giant Kakao ‘Owns 23% of Crypto Exchange Operator’

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

The South Korean internet giant Kakao reportedly owns “around” 23% of Dunamu, the operator of the nation’s market-leading crypto exchange Upbit, per South Korean media outlets.

Source: Adobe/burdun

Two of the country’s biggest financial newspapers – Maeil Kyungjae and Money Today – made mention of the company’s minority ownership of Kakao in recent reports about Kakao’s financial health and recent rises in share prices.

Kakao operates the highly successful chat app KakaoTalk, as well as the Ground X blockchain subsidiary, the Klip crypto wallet and the Klaytn blockchain network – in addition to a listed cryptoasset named klay (KLAY). The firm also has extensive banking operations, an e-payment arm and a whole host of other business avenues.

But with Upbit posting record figures and Dunamu reportedly eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States – possibly off the back of Coinbase’s own much-awaited listing this week – Kakao’s shares are also soaring.

Maeil Kyungjae wrote:

“Kakao, directly and indirectly, holds a 23% stake in Dunamu. Kakao itself owns 8.1%, while [VC arm] Kakao Ventures’ K Cube No. 1 Venture Investor Fund owns 11.7%, with the Kakao Youth Startup Fund owning 2.7%.”

Money Today, meanwhile, wrote that Kakao “owns about 23% of Dunamu’s shares.”

Both Dunamu and Kakao have moved to distance themselves from one another in the public sphere, with the former telling that Kakao was an “early investor” in Dunamu, and downplaying any further significant links between the companies. However, it is also a fact that a number of leading Dunamu executives are former Kakao employees.

South Korean media outlets claim that Dunamu has been actively pursuing its IPO bid, with Money Today explaining that there had been “news” indicating that Dunamu had been “in contact with overseas securities companies” such as Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs with a view to “promoting a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.”

Kakao has also been active on the M&A front, with multiple South Korean media outlets reporting on Friday that it is in talks over a deal for the fashion shopping platform ZigZag.

South Korean media reports say experts value ZigZag at around USD 1bn, but Kakao is yet to confirm or deny its interest in the e-commerce company. has contacted both Kakao and Dunamu for comment.
Learn more:
South Korean Newspaper to Give its Subscribers Kakao’s Klay Token
South Korean Tech Giants May Capitalize on ‘Rising Crypto Pay Demand’
Kimchi Premium Vanishes, then Returns as Bank Issues Appear to Have Hit Upbit
Order Book Sharing Ban Could Shake South Korean Exchanges to the Core