Sirgoo Lee, co-chief executive of South Korea’s Kakao Corp., is making no such promises. With 133 million registered users, Mr. Lee is rolling out dozens of services—from basic messaging, mobile gaming, Instagram-style photo sharing, and online shopping—all on a user interface that is bursting with bright colors.
Amid a frenzy among messaging platforms that have either agreed to sell themselves or are seeking investor cash in public offerings, Kakao stands out as a laboratory of experimentation in the nascent medium.
“We’re trying all kinds of different things and services,” Mr. Lee said in a recent interview. “You can call it our survival instinct.”
Earlier this month, Cyprus-based messaging app Viber Media Inc., which has 300 million registered users, but doesn’t yet make money, sold itself to Japan’s RakutenInc. 4755.TO -4.21% for $900 million. Days later, WhatsApp said it had agreed to be acquired by Facebook.
Line Corp., Japan’s dominant messaging platform, has been exploring a public offering. Kakao itself is close to signing bankers to lead its own planned IPO, which could value the company at more than $2.5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
Outside investors in the company, whose service runs on 93% of South Korea’s smartphones, include China’s Tencent HoldingsLtd. TCEHY -0.04% , maker of its own widely popular messaging service, WeChat.
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