Kakao commences leadership change with young CEO on top

The appointment of 35-year-old Rim Ji-hoon as the South Korean tech giant's chief executive was one of many changes revealed at Wednesday's shareholders' meeting.

The company behind South Korea's massively popular messaging app, Kakao Talk, revealed a slew of changes at Wednesday's shareholders' meeting at Jeju Science Park, South Korea, including a new CEO, corporate re-branding, and the launch of a management inner circle dubbed the "CXO Team".

Daum Kakao, the $7 billion mobile lifestyle platform behind the messaging app, launched an inner circle consisting of top managers from key business units, in order to strengthen its collective leadership prowess while also retaining independence in individual businesses.

The consultative CXO Team was established along with other changes that included re-naming Daum Kakao as "Kakao", and the appointment of Rim Ji-hoon as Kakao's new chief executive.

The shareholders' meeting on Jeju Island -- a tropical resort destination in South Korea -- wrapped up a year-long process of consolidation after Kakao merged with search portal Daum in October 2014.

In the 35-year-old Rim, Kakao looks to tap young blood to move the company forward. He is one of the youngest CEOs in the country, which traditionally prizes seniority -- top corporate executives in South Korea are typically over 50 years old.

Daum Kakao said six top managers of key units will make up a consultative body, including CFO Choi Sae-hoon, COO Hong Eun-taek, CBO Jung Ju-hwan, CPO Park Chang-hee, and CTO Shin Jung-hwan.

"We believe this new structure will provide strong leadership and ensure swift decision making so various business divisions can operate more efficiently. The executives were chosen based on their expertise and experience," a spokesperson said.

Choi Se-hoon, who stepped down as Daum Kakao's co-CEO and chief of communications, has taken over as CFO and as a key member of the CXO Team.

Among the many responsibilities as the newly appointed CEO, Rim will guide corporate strategy, with particular attention to advertising, games, branding, user experience and new platforms.

Another key player on the CXO Team is Jung Ju-hwan, who led the launch of Kakao Taxi in March, which in South Korea overtook taxi service Uber by coordinating better with government regulators and taxi unions.

Kakao Taxi had over 1.5 million downloads and 2.5 million users as of August, and more than 100,000 drivers and 120,000 calls per day, the company said.

Park Chang-hee is a Kakao veteran. The company said Park knows its signature instant messaging service Kakao Talk better than anyone, and as the new chief planning officer, he will continue in that role.

Chief Technology Officer Shin Jung-hwan will head up R&D. Chief Operations Officer Hong Eun-taek, who led the content business at Daum Kakao, will be responsible for external relations, public relations, personnel, and management support under Kakao.

Source: ZDNet Korea (zdnet.co.kr)