Co-CEO of SKorean chat app steps down over service outage

Oct 18, 2022, 10:07 PM | Updated: Oct 21, 2022, 2:55 am
Co-CEOs of Kakao Corp. Namkoong Whon, left, and Hong Eun-taek, right, bow their heads during a pres...

Co-CEOs of Kakao Corp. Namkoong Whon, left, and Hong Eun-taek, right, bow their heads during a press conference at Kakao's office in Pangyo, South Korea, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. A top executive of South Korea’s largest mobile chat app, Kakao, stepped down on Wednesday over a widespread service outage that triggered an outpouring of complaints in a country that is heavily reliant on such technology.(Hwang Gwang-mo/Yonhap via AP)

(Hwang Gwang-mo/Yonhap via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A top executive of South Korea’s largest mobile chat app, Kakao, stepped down on Wednesday over a widespread service outage that triggered an outpouring of complaints in a country that is heavily reliant on such technology.

Namkoong Whon, who became Kakao’s co-CEO in March, said he will resign to focus on his role as the leader of the company’s emergency task force for solving the technical problems exposed by the outage, which was caused by a fire at a data center near Seoul on Saturday.

The fire initially paralyzed most of Kakao’s services, causing huge disruption in a country where millions of people rely on the apps to chat with friends, wire money, and hail taxis. Critics say the severity of the outage and Kakao’s slow recovery efforts highlighted the company’s poor backup systems and its overreliance on outsourced servers.

Kakao said most of its services were operating normally as of Wednesday morning. SK C&C, which hosts Kakao’s servers at its data center in Pangyo, reportedly resumed providing full levels of electricity to those servers earlier on Wednesday after restoring the damaged systems.

“Because of the data center fire, I feel more miserable than ever and take to heart my grave responsibility. I will step down to demonstrate Kakao’s willingness for renovation and change,” Namkoong said in a news conference.

Kakao’s sole CEO is now Hong Eun-taek. He said the company is investing 460 billion won ($322 million) to build its own data center in the city of Ansan, which it plans to complete within a year. The company also plans to establish another data center in nearby Siheung by 2024.

“We have learned our lesson from the fire, and our own data centers will be built as facilities that will be safe from fires and natural disasters like earthquakes, tidal waves and typhoons,” Hong said during the news conference.

According to market analysis firm WiseApp, Kakao’s free chat app had around 45 million active users as of April, a huge presence in a country with a population of around 51 million. The company has used the popularity of the app to branch out to banking, online shopping and Uber-like taxi services in recent years. Its app also has been part of the country’s COVID-19 response, including reservations for vaccines and use of QR codes for infection tracing.

Kakao’s chat users had dropped to around 39 million during the outage in the weekend as people began using other alternatives such as Facebook’s Messenger, Telegram and Naver’s Line, WiseApp said.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Kakao’s service outage also exposed the problems of its dominant market presence and added that the country’s antitrust watchdog was examining competition issues.

“If a market becomes distorted by a monopoly or a severe oligopoly, especially to the extent where the (services) begin to function like a national infrastructure, the government should of course respond with necessary measures to protect the interests of people,” Yoon said Monday.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Co-CEO of Kakao Corp. Namkoong Whon speaks during a press conference at Kakao's office in Pangyo, South Korea, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. A top executive of South Korea’s largest mobile chat app, Kakao, stepped down on Wednesday over a widespread service outage that triggered an outpouring of complaints in a country that is heavily reliant on such technology.(Hwang Gwang-mo/Yonhap via AP)
            
              Co-CEOs of Kakao Corp. Namkoong Whon, left, and Hong Eun-taek, right, bow their heads during a press conference at Kakao's office in Pangyo, South Korea, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. A top executive of South Korea’s largest mobile chat app, Kakao, stepped down on Wednesday over a widespread service outage that triggered an outpouring of complaints in a country that is heavily reliant on such technology.(Hwang Gwang-mo/Yonhap via AP)

AP

FILE - A sign at Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco, Dec. 8, 2022. New research shows c...
Associated Press

EU calls out Twitter for incomplete disinformation report

LONDON (AP) — Twitter failed to provide a full report to the European Union on its efforts to combat online disinformation, drawing a rebuke Thursday from top officials of the 27-nation bloc. The company signed up to the EU’s voluntary 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation last year — before billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk […]
6 hours ago
A woman tries to warm next to a fire, in Adiyaman, southeastern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. Wi...
Associated Press

Live Updates I Aid, rescues in quake-hit Turkey, Syria

Rescuers pulled more survivors from beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings Thursday, but hopes were starting to fade of finding many more people alive more than three days after a catastrophic earthquake and series of aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria, killing more than 17,000. The earthquake that razed thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Samuel Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. The ...
Associated Press

FTX founder keeps talking, ignoring typical legal strategy

NEW YORK (AP) — For federal prosecutors, Sam Bankman-Fried could be the gift that keeps on giving. After the November collapse of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded in 2019, Bankman-Fried unexpectedly gave a series of interviews intended to present his version of events. He was indicted in December and charged with perpetrating one of […]
6 hours ago
FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, lawmaker of the extreme far-right Golden Dawn par...
Associated Press

Far-right party banned from upcoming election in Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s parliament has banned a far-right political party led by a jailed former lawmaker from participating in the general election later this year. Parliament published the text of a legislative amendment Thursday that will disqualify the Greek National Party on the grounds that its leader has been convicted of a serious […]
6 hours ago
Bottles of Pepsi are displayed in a grocery store, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. PepsiCo reports t...
Associated Press

Pepsi price hikes fuel 10% jump in the fourth quarter sales

PepsiCo reported better-than-expected sales in the fourth quarter after hiking prices for its drinks and snacks. Revenue rose more than 10% to $28 billion. That was better than the $26.8 billion Wall Street had forecast, according to analysts polled by FactSet. Pepsi raised prices in a number of markets as it continued to battle double-digit […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Maryland Gov. Wes Moore gives his first state of the state address, two weeks after being sw...
Associated Press

Maryland governor, officials supporting abortion protections

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and state lawmakers are scheduled to announce support Thursday for measures protecting abortion rights, including a state constitutional amendment that would enshrine it. House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, who are both Democrats, will join the governor at a news conference to show their […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Co-CEO of SKorean chat app steps down over service outage