Two of the most important shareholders in Dunamu, the operator of South Korea’s dominant cryptocurrency trade, are the primary two folks within the nation from the crypto trade to grow to be billionaires as the worth of their startup skyrocketed 21-fold in lower than a 12 months.
Final week, Hybe, the company behind Okay-pop sensation BTS, bought a 2.5% stake in Dunamu for 500 billion gained (about $400 million), valuing the crypto startup at $17 billion. The brand new valuation makes Dunamu one of many highest-valued startups in Korea, and its founder and chairman, Music Chi-hyung, and government vp Kim Hyoung-nyon new billionaires. Forbes estimates that Music, 42, owns a few quarter of Dunamu, whereas Kim, 45, owns round 13%. At Dunamu’s new valuation, Music’s stake within the nearly 10-year-old startup is price $3.8 billion; Kim’s is price $2 billion. (Forbes applies a ten% low cost to non-public firm valuations.)
In 2018, Forbes estimated Music held between $350 million and $500 million in cryptocurrencies. Dunamu didn’t reply to a request for touch upon how a lot cryptocurrencies Music and Kim at the moment personally personal.
“We consider Dunamu is a blue-chip technique to spend money on the crypto-economy.”
Dunamu, which runs the cryptocurrency trade Upbit, was beforehand valued at about $800 million in February, when Seoul-based Hanwha Funding & Securities bought U.S. semiconductor large Qualcomm’s complete 6% stake within the startup for round $50 million (Qualcomm invested in Dunamu again in 2015). And in September, Dunamu raised $85 million from enterprise capital companies, together with Altos Ventures in Silicon Valley, at a valuation of round $8.7 billion.
“We consider Dunamu is a blue-chip technique to spend money on the crypto-economy,” says Oh Moon-suk, a Seoul-based companion at Altos, which has backed the likes of Coupang, Krafton and fintech unicorn Viva Republica. “Upbit is the first buying and selling trade in Korea that interacts with the crypto-ecosystem and serves as one of many few crypto-exchanges permitted to simply accept fiat foreign money.”
Upbit was one of many few Korean cryptocurrency exchanges that survived regulatory scrutiny. Cryptocurrency exchanges in Korea needed to receive a safety certificates from the nation’s web safety company by September 24 so as to be acknowledged as authorized buying and selling platforms, and safe partnerships with banks to make sure buying and selling accounts are held by actual folks. Dozens of exchanges weren’t capable of receive the safety certificates and needed to shut down.
“Whereas the crypto-ecosystem remains to be in early section of growth and the adoption of crypto-currencies as an asset class stays to be confirmed, blockchain know-how and crypto-currencies as digital belongings are more and more gaining store-of-value credibility demonstrated by the rising variety of institutional investor participation and growing regulatory readability,” provides Oh.
Hybe is working with Dunamu to promote digital picture playing cards of BTS members within the type of non-fungible tokens, which have exploded in reputation this 12 months. NFTs use blockchain know-how to authenticate digital collectibles, akin to artworks and music. “We’re working with Dunamu to create a technique to develop the fan expertise,” Bang Si-hyuk, the billionaire founding father of Hybe, said in an internet briefing final week. “We’ll carry collectively the capabilities each firms have constructed up thus far to introduce a brand new and thrilling innovation to the worldwide music and fintech industries.”
On the similar time, cryptocurrencies have been gaining mainstream acceptance and the worth of digital belongings have continued to rise. On Monday, the cryptocurrency market rushed past $3 trillion in combined value as main tokens together with bitcoin and ether pushed in direction of file highs.
Primarily based in Seoul’s upscale Gangnam neighborhood, Dunamu was established in 2012 as a information aggregator. It launched Upbit in 2017 and, in accordance with Dunamu’s website, the cryptocurrency trade has greater than 8 million customers and $2.5 trillion in whole buying and selling quantity. Kakao Ventures, the enterprise capital arm of Korean web large Kakao and Dunamu’s earliest investor, said in a latest commentary posted on-line that 80% of Korea’s cryptocurrency transactions are carried out by Upbit.
Earlier than beginning Dunamu, Music labored at native cellular fee firm Danal and administration consulting agency Innomove. He holds a bachelor’s diploma in pc science and economics from the distinguished Seoul Nationwide College. Kim withdrew plans for an M.B.A. in the course of the late Nineteen Nineties on the heels of a large improve in Korea’s web infrastructure to work within the then-emerging subject of tech. Kim additionally graduated from Seoul Nationwide College (although he studied agricultural economics) and labored with Music at Danal.