A top executive of South Korea’s largest mobile chat app operator, Kakao Corp, yesterday stepped down over a widespread service outage that triggered an outpouring of complaints.
Whon Namkoong, who in March became Kakao’s co-chief executive officer, said he would 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 that most of its services were operating normally as of yesterday morning.
SK C&C Co, which hosts Kakao’s servers at its data center in Pangyo, reportedly resumed providing full levels of electricity to those servers earlier yesterday 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 told a news conference.
Kakao’s sole CEO is now Hong Eun-taek.
He said that the company is investing 460 billion won (US$322 million) to build in the city of Ansan its own data center, 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 told the news conference.
Kakao’s free chat app had about 45 million active users as of April, a huge presence in a country with a population of about 51 million people, data from market analysis firm WiseApp showed.
The firm has used the popularity of the app to branch out into banking, online shopping and Uber-like taxi services in the past few years.
Its app has also been part of the country’s COVID-19 response, including reservations for vaccines and for infection tracing.
Kakao’s chat users had dropped to about 39 million during the outage over the weekend as people began using other platforms such as Facebook’s Messenger, Telegram and Naver’s Line, WiseApp said.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said that Kakao’s service outage also exposed the problems of its dominant market presence, adding that the country’s antitrust watchdog was examining competition issues.
UNCONVINCING: The US Congress questioned whether the company’s Chinese owners pose a national security risk and how the app might influence young users TikTok chief executive officer Shou Chew (周受資), confronted with an unforgiving, distrustful US Congress, tried to give answers in his testimony on Thursday that avoided offending either the US government or China. However, his evasiveness left Congress unsatisfied, with representatives hungrier than ever to punish TikTok for ties to its parent company ByteDance Ltd (字節跳動), based in Beijing. He did not bring his company any closer to a resolution. Politically, TikTok is in a tougher spot. Its executives had been discussing divesting from ByteDance to resolve US national security concerns, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. However, China this week said
Sanofi SA’s drug Dupixent succeeded in a late-stage trial for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), raising the odds that the blockbuster would be the first biologic medicine cleared to treat the lung disorder. Dupixent, which is already prescribed for asthma and some skin conditions, showed a 30 percent reduction in the rate at which patients’ COPD worsened compared with those who received a placebo during the stage-three Boreas trial, the company said in a statement yesterday. The positive data could herald a new era of cutting-edge treatments for the life-threatening respiratory affliction and provide another major boost in demand for the French
Huawei Technologies Co (華為) has replaced more than 13,000 parts in its products that were hit by US trade sanctions, the Chinese tech giant’s founder said, according to a speech transcript from last month posted on Friday by a Chinese university. Ren Zhengfei (任正非) said Huawei had over the past three years replaced the 13,000 components with domestic Chinese substitutes, and had redesigned 4,000 circuit boards for its products, the transcript posted by Shanghai Jiao Tong University said. “As of now, our circuit board [production] has stabilized, because we have a supply of domestically produced components,” Ren said. He did not give details
SEMICONDUCTOR EQUIPMENT: The international trade group said the sector would recover from a slump, with spending expected to rise 4.2 percent to US$24.9 billion Taiwan is to retain its position as the top spender on semiconductor front-end equipment and facilities next year, with spending expected to increase 4.2 percent year-on-year to US$24.9 billion, international trade group SEMI said yesterday. The spending forecast matches an expected recovery in global semiconductor equipment and facilities investment next year, it said. International equipment spending is to return to growth next year, SEMI said in a report, forecasting 21 percent growth to US$92 billion. The expansion would manly be driven by robust demand for semiconductors in the automotive and high-performance computing segments, the association said. “This quarter’s SEMI World Fab Forecast update