Kim Jung-ju, founder of game developer Nexon, dies at 54

Kim Jung-ju, the billionaire founder of Korean online game developer Nexon Co – which made hit game Maplestory – has died at age 54. — Nexon Co

Kim Jung-ju, the billionaire founder of Korean online game developer Nexon Co. who contributed to establishing one of the world’s hottest gaming hubs, has died. He was 54.

Kim had received treatment for depression and recently his condition seemed to worsen, NXC Corp., his private investment firm, said in a statement Tuesday, without giving a cause of death. It said he died at the "end of last month” in the US.

Kim, who majored in computer science and engineering at Seoul National University, founded Nexon in South Korea in 1994 and pioneered the use of "loot boxes,” where players purchase virtual merchandise.

Nexon’s PC and video games were played by millions of people globally, especially massively multiplayer online role-playing games – also known as MMORPGs.

In 2011, Nexon listed in Japan. Kim controlled 47% of the company, which became famous through NXC for hit titles such as MapleStory and KartRider.

He was worth US$7.7bil (RM32.28), excluding shares pledged as collateral, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Last year, Nexon reported revenue of 274.5 billion yen (RM10bil).

Crypto Assets

In recent years, his company stepped up investing in crypto currencies and digital-asset exchanges. NXC bought local crypto exchange Korbit in 2017 and purchased Europe-based digital-asset exchange Bitstamp in 2018.

Nexon joined a growing list of companies directly investing in crypto with the acquisition of 1,717 Bitcoins in April last year, at an average price of about US$58,226 (RM244,083) each.

In 2019, Kim considered selling his stake in the company he held through NXC, triggering discussions with major firms including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Hillhouse Capital. He scrapped the plan when he couldn’t find a suitable buyer.

Kim stepped back from running NXC last year and remained a director at the company.

Saudi Fund

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, bought a 5% stake in Nexon in January as part of investments in gaming firms.

Kim was born on Feb 22, 1968 in Seoul, where he went to school, according to the company.

He’s survived by his wife, Yoo Junghyun, who also owns shares in Nexon directly and through NXC. Local media says he has two daughters. The company said Kim’s family members were "devastated.” – Bloomberg

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