Our Investment in Klaytn: The Path Towards Mass Adoption

Baek Kyoum Kim
Jun 27, 2019 · 5 min read
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We are proud to announce that Hashed has invested in Kakao’s public blockchain project Klaytn as a lead investor and an accelerator. Kakao (KRX: 035720) is the dominant mobile platform in Korea with 96+% market share, 50M+ MAU, and loyal users of ARPU at $40+ USD. We believe Klaytn is the most distinguished and meaningful experiment towards mass adoption in the most attractive market in the crypto industry today.

At Hashed Lounge meetup in Seoul during Fall of 2017, our first conversation with Jason Han about opportunities in blockchain began. It was during the initial formation of GroundX, a blockchain subsidiary of Kakao, and the timing could not have been more opportune for the most dominant mobile platform in Korea to seek its next leap forward in the blockchain industry. Korea accounted for the 30% of the global crypto trading, and several media sources claimed that about 40~50% of Korean white-collar workers had exposure to crypto assets. Moreover, supplementing the retail interest, tech startups in Korea such as Watcha (#1 movie-streaming service) and Spoqa (#1 mobile reward points service) were actively investing and exploring business opportunities in blockchain to either open up their ecosystem or augment existing business models.

Klaytn started at a critical time when there was simply no usable blockchain platform for these industry pioneers. Spoqa, for example, was processing payment data of $2 billion annual transactions but could not find a platform that could meet all of their technical requirements. Asia, seeing immediate adoption from consumers already familiar with digital assets, could not just wait on the project timelines of leading smart contract platforms in the market. Instead, Klaytn is off to a strong start with 30+ launch partners with a collective 600+ million user base in its network. (The crypto market has an estimated 30M-40M users today.)

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What is interesting about Klaytn is that its impact is not only limited to accelerating the growth of the existing blockchain industry by providing user-friendly and enterprise-ready blockchain platform for businesses to build services that were previously impossible, but also bringing a whole new set of consumers and institutions to experience decentralized services.

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As the blockchain industry matures, similar to how internet platforms have developed today, we believe that the blockchain platform landscape will be equally, if not more, determined by those who can provide unique contents and strongest user/dev retention on the platform. In this regard, the fact that the Kakao team has a proven track record of building and operating #1 messenger with 96+% of the market share, #1 mobile contents platform, #1 mobile game publisher with 550 million users, #1 music streaming service, #1 mobile payment with $18 billion yearly transaction volume, #1 character brand (emojis) and #1 taxi-hailing app with 97% market share in Korea attests to its tremendous potential. With genuine experience in scaling large companies, Jason Han and his team are bringing their A game to the blockchain industry, and we expect their historic efforts paying out in the near future for one of the most important initiatives made by Korean tech giants.

The team’s history alone, however, could not have been the sole indicator for its future success. With their in-depth understanding of the blockchain technology and its ability to transform the current landscape, the team openly embraces a unique philosophy in which it is daring to break down existing silos to create a new foundation for collaborative competition, and thereby increasing its global footprints. Such platforms with open network and data set allow a new generation of developers to build thousands of apps built on top of one another. This new foundation opens a possibility to design entirely new models for user interaction and self-expression based on shared data layer and identity among apps. While conflating the boundaries could create new types of UX problems, Klaytn is providing all the right tools to iterate fast on new standards and best practices. This is not just a hopeful imagination but already happening with Hashed backed teams The Sandbox, Axie Infinity, and Nodegames (Crypto Sword & Magic) building top quality games with provable scarcity and true digital ownership that Klaytn blockchain provides natively.

We at Hashed believe that economic growth and distribution through clear governance and incentive mechanism is of critical importance for such foundation to succeed. That’s why Hashed research team has been working hands-on with Klaytn team three to four times a week for 3 months on overall protocol design to implement Proof of Contribution to encourage and incentivize all participants to spontaneously engage in economic activities — building a ground for the healthy growth of co-opetition. Each participant will, of course, try to encourage users to use their particular service. But because the underlying infrastructure is open, participants and developers will be able to compete with one another while building on top of each other’s features and user behaviors. All kinds of new economic and user paradigm could emerge as services compete to help users interact with services and networks in ways that were never before possible.

Over 100 engineers, researchers, and operators at Klaytn and Kakao HQ have been collaborating and tirelessly supporting launch partners towards its main-net launch today. This is the most important and impactful experiment in the most attractive market in the crypto industry. We look forward to seeing all of the amazing ecosystems that will be built on Klaytn and the changes it will bring to the global landscape of mass adoption.

Written by Baek Kim and edited by Jin Kang at Hashed

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