When his most trusted advisors urged Korean businessman Bom Kim to take the IPO route, the entrepreneur should have been over the moon.
After all, going public would have made both him and the rest of his stakeholders a ton of money, and if you’re not much of a money-minded individual, the IPO would also be the absolute recognition of the work Bom Kim has put in over the years.
Instead of delight though, the Korean was conflicted. Despite spending six months taking the company through the listing process, he continued to weigh the pros and cons of going public all the same.
At the very last minute though, Kim decided against the initial public offering and to this very day, confesses that it was the most difficult decision he has ever had to make in the entirety of his career.
Difficult though it was, Kim also recognizes it at the one decision he is proud of the most, as he recently revealed to CNBC Make It.
The Most Difficult Decision
If you don’t already know exactly who Bom Kim is, he is the CEO and founder of Coupang, an e-commerce company based in South Korea. So huge has the company grown that most people describe it as the Korean Amazon.
Kim founded his company back in 2010 in Seoul, South Korea’s capital. Initially, he went with a Groupon-style business model, offering discounts and dishing out coupons for products on his website.
He, however, quickly shifted to a model similar to that of eBay, and that’s when things started to happen for him and his business.
Three years down the line, Coupang hit the $1 billion mark in sales, and with the achievement, the company’s first chunk of profit.
The rate at which the e-commerce company was growing compelled investors to urge its CEO and founder to consider filing for an IPO, but as Kim recently revealed, he always felt that taking that route wasn’t right.
To renege on the IPO, Kim simply asked himself if his company was providing a jaw-dropping consumer experience. The answer to this was in the negative, and he decided that it would be better to work on this than to focus on taking Coupang public.
Under Kim’s leadership, the company went through rigorous changes, revamping its business model, its tech, and its interaction with customers.
The Efforts Pay Off
Almost a decade later, the CEO’s efforts seem to have paid off. Coupang is enjoying exponential growth, and thanks to a $2 billion SoftBank investment, the e-commerce company is currently valued at $9 billion.
This sum effectively makes it the most valuable start-up in South Korea, and this is a well-deserved feat.
Annually, they now hit sales of over $10 billion, and Kim reveals that they register a growth of 60% every 12 months. He says, and rightly so, that this growth rate isn’t the result of a single and distinct act, but rather a combination of all the efforts they’ve put in over the years as a team.
With these new heights of success, is Coupang going to be a public company soon? Not a chance, or at least not in the near future as Kim puts it.