Kakao co-CEO resigns after mass outage locks out 53 million customers

A top executive at Kakao Corp., the operator of South Korea’s leading mobile messenger, KakaoTalk, is set to step down. His resignation comes after a fire at a data center over the weekend caused a mass outage and disrupted services for the messenger’s 53 million users worldwide.

Co-CEO Namkoong Whon apologized after the outage and said he would step down.

“I feel the heavy burden of responsibility for this incident and will step down from my position as CEO and lead the emergency task force monitoring the aftermath of the incident,” Namkoong said at a news conference at the company’s office on the outskirts of Seoul on Wednesday.

“We will do our best to restore our users’ trust in Kakao and ensure incidents like this never happen again,” he said, according to a CNBC translation.

According to the company’s website, Namkoong was appointed CEO in March. Kakao reported 47.5 million monthly active users in Korea in the second quarter. That’s more than 90% of South Korea’s population of 51.74 million people (as of November 1, 2021).

Hong Eun-taek, who ran the company alongside Namkoong as co-CEO, will remain the sole head of the company, according to a company filing.

“We sincerely apologize to everyone who suffered from the disruptions during the outage,” Hong said as he bowed next to Namkoong.

The company’s shares traded 4% higher in Korea’s morning session ahead of the news conference.

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