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Korea’s YDM wants to be the leading digital marketing brand in Asia. Here’s how



Korea’s YDM wants to be the leading digital marketing brand in Asia. Here’s how

 [Michael Tegos, 9:03 PM on Dec 23, 2015]

Yello Digital Marketing has a plan. The ad and digital marketing arm of Korean-headquartered company Yello Mobile has been making headlines for a couple of years now, mainly through its aggressive acquisitions across Asia. Since Yello Mobile was founded in 2012, it has grabbed majority stakes in over 80 startups, mainly in the shopping, media, adtech, travel, and online-to-offline (O2O) categories.




(UPDATE, 24/12: Parts of this story conflated details regarding Yello Digital Marketing and its parent company, Yello Mobile. This has been corrected. In addition, the correct Korean name of YDM’s CEO was restored.)


A US$100 million investment in late 2014 from Silicon Valley-based fund Formation 8 at a US$1 billion valuation gave Yello Mobile unicorn status. Earlier this month, it was announced the company has raised an additional US$47.2 million from existing investor Formation 8 at a US$4 billion valuation.


“[South Korea’s] digital industry has matured quite fast compared to its market size,” YDM CEO David (Sang Seok) Lee tells Tech in Asia. “The industry has always thought about how it can expand outside of our market, not just recently but for a while.” And when it comes to expanding, David says, the company saw two options; Southeast Asia or Northeast Asia.


Picking uncertainty

The company chose to focus on the former. While Southeast Asia’s market is a lot more uncertain than its Northeast counterpart, the latter is much more mature as a market, and therefore less attractive in terms of opportunity. “What we are looking for is three years from now,” David says. “What is most important for us, more than making money, is whether we can be leading this industry in this region.”