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Chaebol are lining up to invest in CODE42.ai

Oct 02,2019
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CODE42.ai CEO Song Chang-hyeon, center, poses with officials from SK Telecom, Kia Motors, LG Electronics and CJ Corporation after signing an investment deal Monday. [CODE42.AI]
CODE42.ai, a mobility start-up, announced Tuesday that it attracted 30 billion won ($25 million) in investment from Kia Motors and other major Korean conglomerates.

Kia Motors, as lead investor, is injecting 15 billion won. In April, Kia’s affiliate Hyundai Motor also invested 2 billion won in a bid to enter the smart mobility service market.

The group also received funding from SK Group, LG Group and CJ Group, but didn’t specify the quantities or which affiliates had made the investments.

The start-up, founded by Song Chang-hyeon, Naver’s former chief technology officer, in March, is developing a platform for autonomous transportation-as-a-service. It is hoping to incorporate various means of transport including self-driving cars, drones and delivery robots to offer services like ride-hailing, car-sharing and smart logistics with its urban mobility operating system (UMOS) platform.

With the latest investment, the start-up said it will focus on developing UMOS as well as services using the UMOS platform.

“We expect to create new business opportunities by establishing a next-generation mobility platform based on synergies between [our technologies] and the existing businesses and infrastructure of our investors,” Song said. “We will lead a paradigm shift and present a new urban mobility operating system optimized for the autonomous driving era.”

Song, who served as CTO of Naver as well as CEO of Naver’s research arm Naver Labs, led the development of the IT giant’s voice assistant Clova and translator Papago, as well as in-vehicle entertainment systems, robotics and autonomous driving.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]