Samsung NEXT, the investment arm of South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics Co. that manages a $150 million venture capital to foster and strategically partner with global startups, has invested in a Korean startup for the first time since its launch in 2012.
So far, the investment entity had focused mainly on providing funding to startups based in Silicon Valley in California, the United States.
According to multiple industry sources on Wednesday, Samsung NEXT – formerly Samsung Global Innovation Center – has invested in Mobidoo, an up-and-coming startup based in Korea that develops payment, certification, and marketing solutions by applying inaudible high-frequency sound waves.
Although the company that was established in 2014 is relatively small in size with only 7 employees, it has received a total 1.5 billion won ($1.3 million) investment from not only Samsung NEXT but also other investors including Lotte Members Co. and Capstone Partners, LLC.
Samsung’s decision to invest in a local startup is raising industry hopes that the overall environment for newly-created ventures will improve with more promised funding.
An unnamed official from Korea’s startup industry said that so far Samsung had invested mainly in startups based in Silicon Valley or Israel, leaving out those based in Korea. The overall environment for startups in the country, however, will improve with Samsung stepping up its support, the official added.
Samsung NEXT was set up 2012 in Silicon Valley and has been supporting funds to early-stage startups. It has also been active in acquiring fresh companies with potential technology. In 2014, for example, it acquired SmartThings, a U.S.-based firm that develops open platform for Internet of Things, and in the following year, mobile payment startup LoopPay, and in 2016, artificial intelligence platform developer VIV Labs Inc.
Last year, Samsung NEXT opened an office in Tel Aviv in Israel and this year in Berlin, Germany, and plans to continuously expand investment in countries that are home to potential startups with new technology.
By Song Sung-hoon
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