The news was broken by local media outlet Hani and according to the report, Kakao is looking to draw funding from foreign investors via the private sale of its KLAY token as part of the Klatyn platform.
While it is a token sale by definition, Kakao states that “it is not an investment recruitment for the general public”, which somewhat differs to the traditional structuring of initial coin offerings (ICOs), which are presently banned and unregulated in South Korea. In March, Kakao had announced the Ground X subsidiary as part of its conglomerate’s businesses strategy “Kakao 3.0”.
At this time, the question as to whether or not there will be an ICO attached to the project was raised and swiftly shot down, though later on in June, Bloomberg reported that Ground X CEO Jason Han had described the prospect of the project seeking “capital and business alliances with consumer-service companies”.
The Ground X arm of Kakao was originally set up in Tokyo, Japan. However, the co-CEO of Kakao, Joh Su-yong, had also shot down the rumors of an ICO in March, saying that there were no plans to launch one in either Japanese or Korean territories, which was viewed as a means to circumvent the 2017 ICO ban in South Korea. That said, the move to establish a Tokyo headquarters was more likely to avoid regulations related more specifically to cryptocurrencies.
Kakao also says that it can’t confirm the current size of investment or the nature of investors due to the company requiring “consultation with our partners” in order for such information to be disclosed.
According to Hani sources, the majority of the desired target has been accrued by Ground X, also suggesting that a Chinese venture capital firm may be participating in the token sale:
“The target amount is USD 300 million and Kakao is very close to securing its target. A China-based venture capital executive held a meeting with Ground X in September and, even at the time, Ground X was planning to raise USD 300 million.”
Most recently, Kakao established a significant partnership with stablecoin project Terra, this move was another part of the Ground X project for the purpose of creating a frictionless blockchain payments experience for users. Furthermore, Ground X has also partnered with an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform named Orbs, a project that is “highly likely” to collaborate with Terra.
The news from Kakao is of little surprise; as the ICO market dwindles ever downward, startups and enterprises are beginning to seek capital from traditional institutions such as incubators, venture capital (VC) firms and hedge funds. According to a study on the matter, this is a sign of market maturity and the “professionalization” of the blockchain industry ecosystem.
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