South Korea’s largest mobile-gaming company, Netmarble, likes to compare its founder, Bang Jun-Hyuk, with Steve Jobs and it is one justified comparison. Both men left tech companies they started (for health reasons in Bang’s case) and then those companies nearly tanked and both were brought back into the fold and engineered a striking revival.
Bang’s Netmarble sits atop as a gaming juggernaut with record breaking 50 million downloads for the game called Marvel Future Fight, an action-packed role-playing game with superheroes such as Iron Man and Captain America; the app has cracked the top ten in app charts in 118 countries, including the U.S. and U.K. Netmarble sits at No. 8 in app sales worldwide, according to App Annie, a firm that tracks the iOS and Google Play markets.
But no billionaire is born with a silver spoon; not most of them. They have struggled and worked hard and are self-made billionaires. Bang was a high school dropout and had struggles with English back in his teens, adding to which was the lacking confidence. Bang is an outlier who never went to college; instead, he grew up poor in an outlying part of Seoul and never got past the 11th grade. He said that the dropped school because of country’s rigid system of memorizing material for the sake of test scores. The guy is right! And it’s not just his country.
Bang was interested in movies and started his first business – an online-movie service in the late ’90s. But the country’s Internet service was primitive and connection speeds were slow, so he was forced to fold the business after just two years. Without much ado, Bang focused on gaming because online-gaming beginning to flourish on the heels of a massive government upgrade of South Korea’s Internet infrastructure. With eight employees and $88,000 pooled from investors, he started Netmarble in 2000, catering primarily to women and teenagers with casual games.
With rich content and quality apps and games, Netmarble had no stopping. Although there were many ups and downs during the journey, overall the company kept propelling to sky-touch the gaming world. The rise of Netmarble and its founder Bang Jun-hyuk will be an inspiration for many IT techs in and out of Korea. Hell of a story, right? Told you.