Coding Whiz Child Behind PUBG Plans IPO That May Be South Korea’s Largest


Krafton plans to launch a brand new battle royale cell title this 12 months that might be primarily based on PUBG.

Kim Chang-han, a former little one laptop prodigy who received nationwide coding competitions in South Korea within the Eighties, had reached his lowest level.

It was 2014, and he’d simply laid off a 3rd of the workers at his gaming startup. Since 2000, he’d created three multiplayer on-line video games at three startups that every one fell flat.

“That was the darkest time in my life,” Kim, 46, recalled. The next 12 months, he bought his agency to the corporate now generally known as Krafton Inc., which he joined as an government producer.

Then his fortunes started to alter. As a final try to achieve the enterprise, he determined to make what’s generally known as a battle royale sport, a web-based sport the place gamers compete towards each other in an ever-shrinking battlefield to be the final particular person standing. “Each fiber in my being was telling me to make this sport,” he stated.

Kim persuaded the Irishman Brendan Greene to affix the corporate and transfer to South Korea as the sport’s inventive director.

Bluehole Inc., as Krafton was referred to as on the time, launched PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, in 2017. It grew to become one of the profitable video games of all time, with the PC and console variations promoting greater than 70 million copies and the cell model being downloaded about 600 million occasions, in keeping with Krafton.

Now the corporate is planning an preliminary public providing (IPO) in mid-to-late 2021 that may very well be South Korea’s largest in years. The share sale may increase billions of {dollars}, Kim, who grew to become Krafton’s chief government officer final 12 months, stated in an interview in Seoul, declining to provide additional particulars.

The IPO may worth the startup at as a lot as 30 trillion received ($27.2 billion), in keeping with a January 5 report by Eugene Funding & Securities Co.

South Korea is ready to boost as a lot as $10.9 billion, a document, by way of greater than 120 IPOs this 12 months, in keeping with the brokerage. KakaoBank Corp., the biggest Web-only lender, and LG Chem Ltd.’s battery unit are anticipated to conduct preliminary share gross sales in 2021, in keeping with the report. The surge in IPOs comes after South Korea’s benchmark inventory index gained 34 per cent up to now 12 months, probably the greatest performances on the earth.

The nation’s biggest-ever IPO was the $4.3 billion providing of Samsung Life Insurance coverage Co. in 2010. That was adopted by the $2.4 billion itemizing of Netmarble Corp., a Seoul-based gaming firm, in 2017.


Krafton, whose title represents a dedication to craftsmanship, manages 4 sport studios however PUBG accounts for the overwhelming majority of its gross sales and earnings, in keeping with Kim. It had income of greater than $1.1 billion within the 9 months ended September, in keeping with an organization submitting.

Some folks have considerations about whether or not the corporate is a “one-hit marvel,” stated Han Kim, common associate and co-founder of Altos Ventures Administration Inc., which holds shares in Krafton. “I believe the extra necessary factor is how the corporate can make the most of the mental property of PUBG and the way it could make that into a good greater franchise.”

Krafton’s Kim stated the corporate is creating an animated present that might be uploaded on streaming companies and an online cartoon. It’ll finally make motion pictures and dramas, he stated. The corporate is open to acquisitions in these areas, Kim stated.

Krafton founder Chang Byung-gyu is the biggest shareholder with a 17 per cent stake as of September 30, adopted by Tencent Holdings Ltd., which owns 16 per cent by way of a subsidiary, in keeping with a Krafton submitting. Kim has 1.5 per cent.

Kim received a private laptop contest organised by South Korea’s science ministry in 1985 when he was 10 and went on to assert a number of different nationwide coding prizes. He co-founded Ginno Video games in 2009 after being concerned at two different startups, and was “very annoyed” when its sport failed.

However that is all behind Kim now as Krafton prepares to go public. He stated he is decided to broaden the corporate’s video games repertoire past its preliminary success. The corporate plans to launch a brand new battle royale cell title this 12 months that might be primarily based on PUBG, one other PUBG-related PC and console sport by subsequent 12 months and a survival horror sport in 2022 that can depict the PUBG universe three centuries into the longer term.

“We is not going to keep as a one-hit marvel,” Kim stated.

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