October 6, 2014

SK Planet Inc. acquires geo-couponing retail app Shopkick

SK Planet Inc., a subsidiary of the South Korean wireless company SK Telecom Co., has agreed to buy Shopkick Inc. for $200 million. Shopkick, a shopping app that targets consumers with coupons and deals on nearby stores, was founded in 2009 and has experienced rapid growth in recent years, landing spot 191 on the 2014 Inc. 5000 list. In the last three years, the company has hired an additional 50 people, bringing its total number of staff to 75 people — when the company started five years ago, it had just five employees.

Based out of Redwood City, California, Shopkick brought in over $26 million in revenue last year and is "the first geo-couponing system that rewards users for stepping into retail stores," according to Fast Company, which named the company one of the top ten most innovative companies within the mobile industry in 2012. According to Time, the app allows users who interact with the app inside stores by scanning barcodes or "merely walking inside a participating retailer location," such as Best Buy, Sports Authority and Macy's, to rack up points. The app now boasts over 6 million users.

It comes as no surprise that SK Telecom Co.'s application-building subsidiary SK Planet Inc. should acquire Shopkick, as the South Korean company focuses mainly on retail-related application development. Recently, SK Planet has focused on developing an app called "Styletag," which "connects fashion inspirations to real products curated by the insiders of the fashion industry, helping you achieve the looks you love," according to the company's website.

SK Planet hopes the technology acquisition will increase its global presence:

"The acquisition of Shopkick will create the key platform of SK Planet's U.S. mobile commerce business, and also expand our global market position," SK Planet CEO Jinwoo So stated in a press release Saturday. "Together, we will expand well beyond mobile, connecting online and offline shopping experiences in unprecedented ways."