Two of the biggest shareholders in Dunamu, the operator of South Korea’s dominant cryptocurrency trade, are the primary two folks within the nation from the crypto business 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, Tune Chi-hyung, and govt vice chairman Kim Hyoung-nyon new billionaires. Forbes estimates that Tune, 42, owns a couple of quarter of Dunamu, whereas Kim, 45, owns round 13%. At Dunamu’s new valuation, Tune’s stake within the virtually 10-year-old startup is value $3.8 billion; Kim’s is value $2 billion. (Forbes applies a ten% low cost to non-public firm valuations.)
In 2018, Forbes estimated Tune held between $350 million and $500 million in cryptocurrencies. Dunamu didn’t reply to a request for touch upon how a lot cryptocurrencies Tune and Kim presently personally personal.
“We imagine Dunamu is a blue-chip strategy 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 total 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 imagine Dunamu is a blue-chip strategy to spend money on the crypto-economy,” says Oh Moon-suk, a Seoul-based associate 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 acquire a safety certificates from the nation’s web safety company by September 24 with a view 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 acquire the safety certificates and needed to shut down.
“Whereas the crypto-ecosystem continues to be in early part of improvement 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 rising regulatory readability,” provides Oh.
Hybe is working with Dunamu to promote digital photograph 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, equivalent to artistic endeavors and music. “We’re working with Dunamu to create a strategy to broaden the fan expertise,” Bang Si-hyuk, the billionaire founding father of Hybe, said in an internet briefing final week. “We are going to carry collectively the capabilities each corporations have constructed up to this point 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 the direction of document highs.
Based mostly in Seoul’s upscale Gangnam neighborhood, Dunamu was established in 2012 as a information aggregator. It launched Upbit in 2017 and, in line with Dunamu’s website, the cryptocurrency trade has greater than 8 million customers and $2.5 trillion in complete buying and selling quantity. Kakao Ventures, the enterprise capital arm of Korean web large Kakao and Dunamu’s earliest investor, said in a current commentary posted on-line that 80% of Korea’s cryptocurrency transactions are performed by way of Upbit.
Earlier than beginning Dunamu, Tune labored at native cell cost firm Danal and administration consulting agency Innomove. He holds a bachelor’s diploma in laptop science and economics from the distinguished Seoul Nationwide College. Kim withdrew plans for an M.B.A. through the late Nineteen Nineties on the heels of a large improve in Korea’s web infrastructure to work within the then-emerging discipline of tech. Kim additionally graduated from Seoul Nationwide College (although he studied agricultural economics) and labored with Tune at Danal.