The Korea Herald


Yanolja snaps up $1.7b funding as SoftBank ramps up Korea tech bet

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : July 15, 2021 - 18:37

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SoftBank's logo is pictured at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters-Yonhap) SoftBank's logo is pictured at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters-Yonhap)
Travel and leisure platform operator Yanolja completed a $1.7 billion investment round by sole investor SoftBank Vision Fund 2, the company said on Thursday.

Yanolja said the company will use the proceeds to scale digital transformation of the global travel and hospitality industry and expand its technology offerings in new markets.

The company plans to build and operate an advanced global travel platform by enhancing its automated solutions using artificial intelligence and personalized offerings based on big data, in line with its expansion of its cloud-based hospitality solutions business.

“Powered by (artificial intelligence), we believe Yanolja is a leader in transforming the travel and leisure industry in South Korea through its Travel Super App approach,” Greg Moon, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said in a statement.

The news comes just a few months after SoftBank’s flagship growth fund injected $175 million in AI-powered educational technology startup Riiid in the series D round as a sole investor in May.

Yanolja’s fundraising is the Japanese technology giant’s second-largest investment, after a $2 billion investment in e-commerce giant Coupang in 2018 through SoftBank Vision Fund 1. SoftBank’s 2018 deal followed its $1 billion funding in 2015 to the company, which was later listed on the New York Stock Exchange in March.

Even after the launch of its second flagship fund, SoftBank’s appetite for Korean technology companies continues to grow.

Just in April alone, technology-driven localization and media services firm Iyuno Media Group received a $160 million funding, while messaging-as-a-service company Sendbird, founded by John Kim in Seoul and later relocated to California, attracted a $100 million series C round of funding.