SK Telecom places $1 billion bet on U.S.

SK Planet, the Internet services arm of South Korea's SK Telecom, wants to make inroads in the U.S. market.


SK Planet, the Internet services arm of South Korean wireless company SK Telecom will spend between $500 million and $1 billion to buy, invest in and buid technology companies in the U.S., according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal's Jessica Lessin reports that its three-to-five-year plan includes making San Francisco a major developmental hub.

She reports:

The first effort it is backing, a new messaging app called Frankly, is expected to launch this summer. A U.S. team of around 40, including alumni of Google and Apple, is already brainstorming new mobile video, commerce and education services.

The move demonstrates continued interest in Silicon Valley's position as the world's leading technology center.

It won't be easy. The U.S. is a mature, highly competitive market, and SK Telecom has, in the past, failed to successfully enter the market. Helio, a joint venture with the wireless service company EarthLink, quickly mounted significant losses after it launched in January 2005.

Still, the Korean market is maturing, pushing the company to look elsewhere for additional revenue. The added benefit of being closer to some of the world's largest software companies—Google, Apple, Facebook—is also attractive.