Co-CEO of South Korea’s largest chat app Kakao resigns after mass outage locked 53 million users out
Namkoong Whon has stepped down from his position as a Co-CEO of South Korea’s largest mobile chat app Kakao.
His resignation comes after a fire at a data center led to a mass outage over the weekend that left 53 million of its messenger users worldwide without access to a wide range of services. Namkoong apologized following the outage and said he would resign from his position.
“I feel the heavy burden of responsibility over this incident and will step down from my position as CEO and lead the emergency disaster task force overseeing the aftermath of the incident,” Namkoong said at a press conference at the company’s office in the outskirts of Seoul on Wednesday.
The company apologized for the outage that started on Saturday due to a fire at a data center run by SK C&C near Seoul, which cut off power to 32,000 servers, or about 30% of Kakao’s total.
The company also pledged to increase investment to ensure continuity of operations at data centers it uses after growing concern about the app’s market dominance in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
“We will do our best to restore our users’ faith in Kakao and make sure incidents like these never happen again,” he said, according to a translation.
According to the company’s website, Namkoong was appointed CEO in March. His resignation comes just seven months after he took the top job and leaves co-CEO Hong Euntaek, who was appointed in July, as the sole CEO.
“We did not prepare for a complete shutdown of an entire data center,” Hong said at a press briefing, adding that previous emergency drills had mostly involved contingencies for surges in traffic.
Launched in 2010, KakaoTalk has more than 47 million active accounts in South Korea, making it one of the most popular apps in the country. The free messenger service gained popularity after smartphones took off in the late 2000s. Its early mover advantage allowed the mobile chat app to outpace competitors, including tech giant Naver.
The company reported 47.5 million monthly active users in South Korea during the second quarter. That’s more than 90% of South Korea’s population of 51.74 million people, as of Nov. 1, 2021.