South Korean e-commerce startup Kupung recently made its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange and became the largest IPO by an Asian company since Alibaba’s 2014 IPO. Shares rose, valuing founder Bon Kim’s stake of more than $ 8.6 billion. Kapang’s stock price rose 41% on the first day of trading, becoming the largest IPO in the US since Uber in 2019. Kupang is often called the Amazon of South Korea. The company’s largest investor is SoftBank. Koupang pledged to give up to $ 90 million in shares to its warehouse employees and full-time delivery drivers. Revenue at the company doubled in 2020 with epidemic-related growth in online shopping.
42-year-old Bon Kim was born in Seoul. He left Korea at the age of seven. He attended Deerfield Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts, where he was on the Varsity track and wrestling teams. He went to the underworld and Harvard for his MBA but dropped out six months in his MBA program. He started a student magazine called “Current” and interned at “The New Republic” before taking a job at Boston Consulting Group. He did not spend long in that work. He left, raising $ 4 million to start a magazine called “02138”. The magazine went out of business in 2009. He founded Kupang in 2010. Over the past decade, Kim has raised $ 3.8 billion from Silicon Valley venture firms, including SoftBank, Sequoia Capital and BlackRock.
Coupang began as a Groupon clone and evolved into an online retailer called Rocket Delivery with a 24-hour logistics service. As of 2019, the company has more than 3.5 million daily active users. Coupang employs 10,000 people in its Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Seattle and Los Angeles offices.
In its 11 years of operation, Koupang has aggressively expanded its distribution operations. About 70% of South Korea’s 51 million people live within seven miles of the Kuppang distribution center. Recently, the company has expanded into streaming services and food delivery. Dawn allows the delivery service to keep orders with delivery until 7pm late in the night. Coupang Fresh distributes organic and pear foods that are delivered within hours of purchase. Coupang Eats is the company’s food delivery service.
Coupang is the fastest growing e-commerce company in South Korea. This is the country’s closest thing to Amazon, which does not operate in South Korea because of Kim and Koupeng.