Dable seeks partnerships to scale up contents discovery business — CEO

Dable, a Seoul, South Korea-based contents discovery platform company, is looking for joint venture partnerships to scale up its content discovery business as it aggressively pushes for expansion in Southeast Asia, said CEO Chaehyun Lee.

The company is also welcoming approaches from global strategic investors from the media and online advertising sectors as its services are mainly offered to those industries, Lee said.

Dable raised USD 5.3m in a Series B round last year from domestic venture capital firms such as NHN Entertainment, Cheil Worldwide, and DSC investment, along with existing venture capital investors Kakao Ventures and Stonebridge Capital, Lee said.

The proceeds were to be used to fund Dable’s business operations and overseas expansion. But, as the company has a healthy cashflow and has seen its revenue grow, it hasn’t yet used up the funds it raised, the CEO said.

Dable is rapidly expanding in Southeast Asia, having established corporate entities in Taiwan and Indonesia in 2018. It is increasing its presence in Indonesia and has entered into strategic partnerships with six of the top 10 Indonesian media firms, Lee said.

As a market, Indonesia generates the most revenue for Dable after South Korea, Lee said. The company recently expanded to Vietnam, and will enter Hong Kong and Malaysia next month, he added.

Established in 2015, Dable generated revenue of around KRW 8.5bn (USD 7.5m) in 2017 and around KRW 16bn (USD14.2m) in 2018 via its contents discovery service offerings, the CEO said. He added that 95% of the company’s revenue comes from South Korea.

The company is considering a Series C fundraise next year to improve its business as a leading online contents discovery platform, Lee said, adding that the size of the fundraise hasn’t yet been determined. Dable currently provides individualized content services to an average of 150 million users every month in Asia, the CEO said.

To speed up its technology development, taking over small domestic firms with highly skilled online advertisement developers is another option, Lee said, adding that the company could spend approximately KRW 1bn — KRW 3bn per deal.

Dable offers three services — Dable Native Ad, Dable Contents Recommendation, and karamelai — driven by big-data and machine learning technology. Based on personalization and automation technology, the company’s platforms analyze and learn consumers’ preferred content to recommend high-quality services tailored to the individual, Lee said.

Dable Native Ad is a digital marketing platform that figures out users’ interests based on their previous visits to certain web pages and reflects such analysis in advertisements for users to view in the future, Lee said. Dable Contents Recommendation connects readers, both PC and mobile users, with media corporations that have individualized content, by analyzing their news reading. It eventually increases users’ content usage rates and encourages greater traffic flow. Likewise, karamelai, a commerce platform, recommends products to consumers based on their interests and inspires future purchases, the CEO said.

The Seoul-based contents discovery company has over 1,500 media affiliates such as South Korean daily The Chosun Ilbo and Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), according to its brochure.

The company was founded by four entrepreneurs — Lee, Sungmin Kim, Goonoo Kim, Seungkook Baek. Lee is the largest shareholder of the company, he said. The four founders have strong backgrounds in technology, having worked for companies like Naver, NCSOFT, and SK Planet.

Dable’s global peers include global online advertisement and recommendation service companies such as New York-based Taboola and Outbrain. The company has a total of 53 employees, 17 of whom are developers.

by Jenny Lee in Seoul / 14 FEB 2019 /www.mergermarket.com