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SK Planet targets Kakao Talk with acquisition of Tic Toc

SK Planet said Monday that it had acquired MADsmart, a venture firm best known for its mobile messenger service Tic Toc.

With Kakao Talk dominating the local mobile messenger market, the company hopes to expand its presence with the new acquisition.

It is the first acquisition for SK Planet since the former platform unit of SK Telecom was spun off in October.

MADsmart, established in last March by KAIST graduates, recently saw its subscriber numbers surpass 13 million since the launch of the Tic Toc service.
SK Planet said that it has acquired MADsmart as a subsidiary so that all its employees, including CEO Kim Chang-ha, will continue to work at the company.

“With the new acquisition, we will combine MADsmart’s venture spirit and techniques and SK’s diverse service experiences to take an early edge in the global market,” said Seo Jin-woo, SK Planet president.

SK Planet has already secured some 34 million users through the existing PC-based messenger service Nateon.

With Tic Toc, the company is expected to jump directly into competition with Kakao Talk, whose subscribers recently reached 42 million.

SK Planet, which has 500 billion won ($440 million) in cash, has been eyeing acquisitions of local and foreign companies recently.

Last year, the company invested in Silicon Valley venture ViKi, which provides a video streaming service with subtitles translated in more than 150 languages.

By Lee Ji-yoon (