What's Google Doing In Seoul, South Korea?
It’s no secret that in the last few years, South Korea has begun to position itself at the center of the tech world, slowly developing a community that broadly nurtures startups and innovation.
Therefore, it came as no surprise when Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) announced it would be opening a campus program in Seoul, a space for budding entrepreneurs to seek guidance and opportunity. Google’s South Korean installment will join other campuses in London, Tel Aviv, Warsaw and Sau Paulo.
“Korean innovators and entrepreneurs are some of the best in Asia and Korean startups are making headlines around the world, especially in the mobile space,” Bridgette Beam, program manager at Google for Entrepreneurs, said in the campus’ August 2014 announcement.
“We want to support this booming community of entrepreneurs.”
The announcement of the Seoul campus was the latest Google-driven charge into the tech culture of South Korea. For the last few years, the corporation had its hand in numerous South Korean programs designed to foster startups, from the Global K-Startup Program to the massive, worldwide Startup Weekend, which has proven to be a veritable startup factory.
Once Campus: Seoul is up and running, it will offer “unparalleled access to mentorship and trainings led by their local startup community, experienced entrepreneurs and teams from Google.”
A Google representative told Benzinga that the company firmly plans on opening its campus doors in Seoul in the first half of 2015.
Looking beyond the campus' open, the question becomes: What are the implications of Google embedding itself not only in one of South Korea’s largest cities, but the homebase of much of its tech innovation?
For one, Google’s past campus endeavors are already proven to, if nothing else, create a tight-knit community dedicated to creation within a larger community.
Take Campus: London, which just over a year after its opening in 2011 had 22,000 members and created 576 new jobs within the campus in just 18 months.
Even more tantalizing, campus members managed to raise £34 million in funding just a year after the campus opened.
Clearly, the potential for a Seoul community is not just a large one, but also an important one. The thought of not going to college, not going on to work for a massive conglomerate, is a new one in South Korean youth culture. A centralized support system of like-minded individuals and mentors will make the transition that much easier.
The worldwide implications of a Seoul Campus may be the most promising yet.
For one, Seoul has benefits that the rest of the world simply does not have. The Internet speed in South Korea is the fastest in the world, soon to be even faster. This obviously helps in a practical sense, but it also ensures the demand for online content such as mobile apps to constantly be sky high, for example.
South Korea is number one, globally in innovation for the first time, according to a new Bloomberg study.
The world’s largest global Hackathon is even coming to Seoul, and bringing thousands of potential entrepreneurs and idea-builders with it.
The time is right for South Korea to change the world.
And when Campus: Seoul gets underway in just few short months, changing the world will become that much easier.
Image credit: Deusride, Wikimedia
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