Zuckerberg (center) walks into Samsung Electronics’ building to meet with executives of the Korean tech giant.
We wrote earlier that the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg will be in Korea (read the article here). The meeting with the Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics, Lee Jae-yong was one of the key points in Zuckerberg’s short itinerary in Korea.
It was speculated that he will be visiting President Park Geun-Hye – but he had also met with the Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics, Lee Jae-yong. He is also the heir of Samsung. This was the first time that Zuckerberg and Lee met face to face.
Zuckerberg met Lee with the mobile unit chief Shin Jong-kyun from Samsung Electronics to ask the South Korean company to manufacture a “Facebook-friendly” phone.
“Facebook has every intention of becoming the second Google, and with that intent in mind, Zuckerberg is said to have asked Samsung to step up cooperation by launching a phone with a Facebook interface… [but] Samsung doesn’t want to help nurture a second Google, which is now becoming a formidable rival for Samsung in the handset business,” said one industry watcher, declining to be identified.
It is unlikely that Samsung will consider Facebook’s request for a phone with its own platform. It is apparent that this will not be viewed in a positive light by Samsung because the deal lacks monetary or symbolic significance. To the electronics conglomerate, there would be no real benefit to establish a “Facebook-friendly phone”.
According to some Korean media commentators, Facebook does not want the ‘premium image’ that Samsung is seeking to carve out in the world. They also speculated that Zuckerberg’s visit would have come through after much cajoling from Facebook. Facebook officials on the other hand declined to comment on or confirm the visit.
On the other hand, Google acquired Motorola Mobility in 2012 and they are expected to roll out the Moto X phone.
It’s unknown whether Zuckerberg will also meet with LG Electronics Vice Chairman and CEO Koo Bon-joon. Koo met Google CEO Larry Page in Google Korea’s office in Seoul during Page’s recent visit to Korea. Zuckerberg, meanwhile, did not meet with Koo Bon-joon, the head of LG Electronics, another top maker of smartphones, during his trip.
Samsung officials said that they had met to boost bilateral partnership. An official commented that:
“Zuckerberg will visit Samsung’s main office in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, Tuesday. The two will discuss ways to strengthen their strategic partnership that covers content and manufacturing.”
President Park Geun-hye
When Larry Page (Google’s Co-founder) visited Korea in early 2013, he met with heads of both Samsung and LG.
Prior to his visit to the Samsung headquarters, Zuckerberg met with President Park Geun-hye. The president has been stressing the importance of creating a “creative economy” based on advanced & integrated IT and communication. Since assuming office this February, Park has put technological innovation at the heart of her drive for the creative economy. She has been meeting leading figures in the Silicon Valley for inspiration.
The country has been showing strong potential for social networking and software as Korea is self-sufficient in search (we’re talking about Naver, the leading search engine in Korea owned by the parent company NHN. They also own LINE, a popular social messaging app in both Korea and Japan.) Korea also has Cyworld, once one of the most popular social networking sites in the country. Its popularity declined gradually but there have been talks of ‘revamping’ the website. Kakao Story is also on the rise.
What they talked about
Park and Zuckerberg talked about:
- Zuckerberg was noted for saying that he hoped for the Facebook platform to help small and mid-sized enterprises in Korea get a global leg up;
- Creating more jobs for the Korean economy in the information technology field;
- Encouraging venture capital companies and the ecosystem in South Korea;
- Zuckerberg acknowledged South Korea as a key market for Facebook; and
- Facebook’s investments in Korea and how they will continue to focus on the country.
South Korean conglomerates such as Samsung and Hyundai have been driving Korea’s rapid economic development. However, in the services sector, the country lacks the global reputation for excellence. In order to encourage technological innovation, the new administration has promised measures including:
- tax breaks for investments in venture companies; and
- increased public loans for entrepreneurs.
Because of the age difference between Zuckerberg and Park, the Korean media dubbed their relationship as something similar to a mother-and-son relationship. The Korean media, funnily enough, commented on how the North Korean Kim Jung-un is the same age as Zuckerberg. (Are they saying that President Park is the ‘mother’ compared to Kim Jung-un?) With this not-so-subtle comparison, it was apparent that the Korean media was also focused on security issues in Korea this year.
Also, they commented on how Zuckerberg wore a suit, instead of rocking his usual casual attire (hoodie and jeans) – the Korean media commented that Zuckerberg was the one who had scheduled for his meeting and praised him for being ‘modest’ before talking about Bill Gates and Larry Page’s visits to Korea this year.