South Korea’s leading car-sharing platform Socar Inc. has become the country’s 12th unicorn valued at around 1.1 trillion won after receiving a fresh round of funding worth 50 billion won ($42.5 million) from domestic private equity firm SG Private Equity.
The mobility startup will join the ranks of other unicorn companies, including e-commerce platform Coupang, digital wallet operator Viva Republica, hotel platform Yanolja and fashion platform Musinsa. A unicorn in this sense is a non-listed company valued at over 1 trillion won.
The latest funding comes just seven months after the company fetched a combined 50 billion won from LB Private Equity and SoftBank Ventures, according to investment banking industry sources on Sept. 16.
The steady flow of investments reflects high expectations for the company’s growth potential backed by its expertise in mobility platform management.
The company plans to use the proceeds to aggressively expand its new businesses, which include the launch of a franchise taxi service, a designated driver service as well as an online used car sale platform.
Socar first launched its car-sharing service in 2011 on Jeju Island with just 100 cars, and gained traction when Lee Jae-woong, the founder of domestic portal Daum, joined the company. In 2018, the company acquired app developer VCNC and launched Tada, a van-hailing service that enjoyed almost immediate success.
However, Korean taxi drivers took a stand against Tada, prompting the Korean government to pass a law that suspended the popular service. Currently, Socar operates around 12,000 cars with over 6 million users.
The company’s revenue has surged almost twentyfold from 14.6 billion won in 2014 to 256.6 billion won in 2019.
By Jung-hwan Hwang and Chae-Yeon Kim
<Edited by Danbee Lee>