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Baby Shark creator eyes 2022 listing, begins due diligence

The animated children's dance hit is YouTube's most-viewed video with over 9 billion views

By Aug 13, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Baby Shark creator eyes 2022 listing, begins due diligence


South Korea-based edtech startup SmartStudy, the creator of YouTube's current most-viewed video, Pinkfong Baby Shark Dance, has begun preparations for an initial public offering with plans to make a Kospi debut early next year.

According to the investment banking industry on Aug. 13, SmartStudy and its IPO manager Mirae Asset Securities have begun conducting due diligence. Initially, there were talks that the startup may consider going public in the US but SmartStudy has decided on a local listing given the Korea Exchange’s recent efforts to secure the unicorn company.

Usually, due diligence takes about six months with the underwriter analyzing the company's financial soundness by reviewing various documents, including audit reports, financial statements, investment records and shareholder changes, to ensure that it qualifies for an IPO.

Once the due diligence wraps up, the startup will file for a preliminary review to the Korea Exchange and officially kick off the IPO process.

Pinkfong Baby Shark Dance is the most-viewed YouTube video with over 9 billion views.
Pinkfong Baby Shark Dance is the most-viewed YouTube video with over 9 billion views.

SmartStudy rose to fame last year when its educational video Pinkfong Baby Shark Dance claimed the No. 1 position as the most-viewed video on YouTube -- the first time for a Korean content video to win the title. As of Aug. 13, the video has exceeded 9 billion views.

Riding on the video's global success, SmartStudy has expanded its content business using the Baby Shark brand's intellectual property. The company has produced animations and mobile content apps alongside signing over 2,000 licensing agreements with industry players across the home appliance, fashion and food sectors.

SmartStudy has also rolled out offline programs including pop-up stores, children’s musicals and character-themed products. The company is currently in the works to unveil new characters that will continue the Baby Shark legacy.

BABY SHARK EMERGES AS KOREA'S 13TH UNICORN

In June of this year, SmartStudy became the country’s 13th unicorn startup after receiving an enterprise value of over 1 trillion won ($854.5 million) when it raised around 30 billion won.

According to industry watchers, the company is expecting its enterprise value to top 3 trillion won, which would facilitate the exit of its financial investors. The company plans to boost its valuation through its Baby Shark intellectual property portfolio.

However, the company will need to prove its long-term growth potential since Baby Shark’s popularity has begun to diminish, driving its performance lower since last year.

In 2019, the company logged revenue of 76.8 billion won, an all-time high for the company. But last year, the company's revenue dropped by around 12% to 67.7 billion won while its operating profit also plunged to 18.4 billion won, almost half of the previous year’s 31.2 billion won.

SmartStudy was founded in 2010 by Chief Executive Kim Min Seok, a former employee of game development company Nexon Co., along with industry veterans from domestic IT giants including Naver Corp. and NCSoft Corp.

CEO Kim is the largest shareholder with a 19.4% stake followed by Samsung Publishing Co. with a 16.9% stake.


Write to Ye-jin Jun at ace@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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