By Kim Young-won
The Korea Herald/ANN
With Socar’s latest addition to the unicorn list, South Korea now has 12 unicorn companies, including ecommerce firm Coupang, fintech company Viva Republica and accommodation booking services operator Yanolja. Socar is Korea’s first mobility unicorn.
“As Socar has received a combined 60 billion won from SG Private Equity and Songhyun Investment, the company’s value was estimated to reach the 1-trillion won mark,” the car sharing company said.
The company’s car sharing business started in 2011 with 100 rental cars. It acquired mobile messenger startup VCNC in 2018 to launch van-hailing service Tada.
Tada ceased its van-hailing operations this year, after new legislation made it difficult to operate the service, but it still runs a premium taxi service.
The number of vehicles run by Socar has grown to 120,000 with the number of subscribers exceeding 6 million. The company’s revenue last year came to 256.6 billion won, up from 121.1 billion won in 2017.
“Through the latest round of investment, Socar has shown its growth potential amid the coronavirus pandemic,” said Park Jae-wook, CEO of the mobility company, adding that the company will beef up its competitiveness by recruiting talent and improving services.
The race to lead the mobility sector will likely heat up as existing and new players have been competitively expanding their respective operations. Uber, an underdog in the domestic market largely due to the government’s strict regulations, has recently joined forces with mobile network operator SK Telecom to launch new mobility services.
The two companies plan to launch a joint venture for car hailing services in the first half next year. SKT will also spin off its automotive services unit, tentatively named T Map Mobility, which runs a taxi hailing service and a navigation service.
The US car sharing firm will invest $100 million in the planned joint venture and $150 million in T Map Mobility.