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Kakao Mobility jumps into pet taxi business thru acquisition of domestic startup

By Lim Chang-won Posted : March 9, 2021, 16:14 Updated : March 9, 2021, 16:14

[Courtesy of Kakao]

SEOUL -- The mobility service wing of South Korea's internet service giant Kakao jumped into a pet taxi business through the acquisition of a domestic startup that has gained popularity since its debut in 2016. South Korea has seen rapid growth in food and service markets for cats and dogs, with pet hotels emerging as a lucrative business.

South Korea's first pet taxi startup, Pet Me Up, said in a public notice posted on its website on March 9 that its service would be taken over and succeeded by Kakao Mobility as of March 22. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the startup said that customers would not experience any inconvenience because its service will remain intact under control by Kakao Mobility.

Kakao Mobility has diversified its business portfolio since it launched a smartphone app-based taxi-hailing service in 2015. The acquisition of Pet Me Up came after Uber Technologies, the world’s largest mobility platform company, formed a joint venture with a mobility business company spun off from SK Telecom (SKT), a top mobile carrier in South Korea, to launch an innovative e-hailing service and explore future mobility services.

Pet taxis are equipped with basic pet items like pee pads and diapers as well as an insurance plan. Pet Me Up also provides pick-up and drop-off services, allowing pet owners to send their pets to grooming shops, hotels and daycare centers. There are at least 5.9 million households with pets in South Korea. However, it has not been easy for animal lovers and pets to travel together due to the lack of pet-friendly facilities.

Chung Yong-jin, the de facto head of South Korea's retail conglomerate Shinsegae, opened a French lifestyle boutique hotel business called "L'Escape" in central Seoul in 2018. Chung, who is well known for his ingenious ideas, allowed hotel residents to stay with pet dogs. The boutique hotel also provides special services for dog guests such as birthday parties and brunch menus for dogs and owners.

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