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Naver to buy US social commerce platform Poshmark for $1.6b

S. Korean IT giant aims to secure foothold to target younger customers in North America

Logos of Naver and Poshmark (Naver)
Logos of Naver and Poshmark (Naver)

South Korean IT giant Naver will buy Poshmark, the largest social commerce marketplace in North America, for a total of $1.6 billion (2.3 trillion won), the companies said Tuesday.

Naver will acquire all of Poshmark stocks at $17.9 per share in a buyout worth approximately $1.2 billion. The rest of the $1.6 billion deal includes consideration for Poshmark’s cash holdings of some $580 million.

As the biggest acquisition ever for a Korean IT company, Wednesday’s announcement marked the first major deal since Choi Soo-yeon took Naver’s CEO position in March.

The Korean IT giant said the acquisition came as part of the company’s preemptive measures to secure long-term e-commerce competitiveness in the global customer-to-customer, or C2C, market.

“In order to take the winning edge in the ‘re-commerce’ market, there should be users, communities and seller tools. We figured Poshmark is the platform that has the highest chance of winning,” said Choi in a conference call.

“Naver is drawing a big picture to establish a new retail style of ‘community commerce’ in the global market. We will leap into a world-leading fashion-specialized C2C platform,” she added.

Through the Poshmark buyout, Naver has established a worldwide C2C portfolio. The company operates social e-commerce platforms such as Kream in Korea and Vintage City in Japan. It has also invested in European marketplace platforms Wallapop and Vestiaire collective.

Naver said the company will integrate the entertainment businesses of web comics and web novels based on Naver Webtoon and Wattpad into Poshmark’s re-sale commerce businesses.

Established in May 2011, Poshmark listed on the Nasdaq at $42 per share in January 2021. The online retail platform, which lets users buy and sell clothes, household goods and home appliances, has attracted over 80 million users.

In particular, the online marketplace has gained popularity among younger generations. About 80 percent of its users were born in the 1980s or later. Poshmark’s gross merchandise volume recorded $1.8 billion and its sales reached $330 million in 2021.

Kim Nam-sun, Naver’s chief finance officer, said in the conference call that the buyout was a good chance to acquire a promising company at a low price. He noted that Depop, a British fashion secondhand marketplace platform that had one-fifth the number of transactions as Poshmark, was bought out for $16.3 billion last year.

The US secondhand market is expected to reach $130 billion in 2025 with a compound annual growth rate of about 20 percent, according to market analysis Activate Consulting.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, according to the announcement. Poshmark will be an independent subsidiary of Naver once the deal is completed. The current management of the social commerce marketplace will continue to lead its existing businesses in North America, Australia and India, Naver said.



By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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