Venture Capital in South Korea

Forbes has an interview with venture capitalist Tae Hea Nahm. Excerpts:

Q: How is technology being used differently [in Korea]?

Two areas in which they are technologically ahead of the U.S. is broadband penetration and broadband wireless. They’ve had 3G since late 2002, and Verizon is just deploying it now [in the U.S.]. Because they have an advanced infrastructure, it is interesting to see what new kinds of services are popular there with the understanding that it could happen in the U.S. or other countries. On the wireline side, what is popular is massive online gaming. Broadband enables you to do that. The U.S. is more console-based or PC-based, but I think the same thing will happen here because is it is more fun to play games with someone else than it is just with a computer. That’s what ubiquitous high-speed broadband allows you to do.

On the wireless side, what we’ve seen from Korea is that mobile video has not taken off as fast in Korea as we first thought it would. What has taken off is mobile music [over cell phones]. It makes sense–people spend a lot of time walking or waiting, and you can listen to music, then when someone calls it immediately switches over to the cell phone. You can carry an iPod, but it’s harder to carry multiple devices. If it’s all on a cell phone, that becomes the most convenient way. I think that a cell phone music player will become the dominant form. At the end of the day, you always have your cell phone.

Q: What sorts of interesting technologies are you seeing here in the states?

Mobile apps are one. Also, trying to use an ever-improving infrastructure to deliver more services and solutions for enterprises and consumers. We invested in 5Square Systems; it’s a company that automates the front end of auto dealerships. It provides the software as a service solution to dealerships so they don’t have to build their own IT department. It’s also a way to simplify the whole sales process and make it more user friendly.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.