SK networks Hico Capital to Collaborate with Bow Capital on Investment Opportunities in the Global Tech Sector


SK networks is intensifying its efforts to transform into a business-oriented investment firm, with the goal of becoming a global innovation gatekeeper. As part of this strategic shift, the company is launching a collaboration with Bow Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture investor.

On May 30th, SK networks held, with key representatives from SK networks, Hico Capital, and Bow Capital in attendance, the collaboration launch meeting at the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Silicon Valley, California. The meeting was hosted by SK networks President & COO Sunghwan Choi along with Bow Capital Managing Director, Vivek Ranadivé.

Bow and Hico aim to collaborate by bringing two sets of additive skills, experience, and connections together for mutual benefit. Bow and Hico believe that together their combined eco-systems and experience, ranging from access to academic research to broad corporate operations experience and relationships, can provide differentiated value-add and investment capital for early-stage technology companies. In connection with the collaboration, President Choi will act as an advisor, providing guidance and support in investment sourcing and evaluation.

Bow and Hico share the perspective that software and artificial intelligence are rapidly transforming the operations of traditional industries, such as financial services, transportation & logistics, healthcare, among others, while creating opportunities in a myriad of areas, including climate management, digital business infrastructure, sports and entertainment.

SK networks, having cultivated its capabilities through initial corporate investments since 2018, is now poised to enhance its operational expertise through this collaboration. In addition, the company aims to further develop its investment capabilities to assume a leading role not only in early-stage investments but also across diverse stages in the long term. Furthermore, SK networks plans to continue its activities aimed at enhancing shareholder value. This includes utilizing a portion of its investment profits as a source of finance for various shareholder return policies, such as purchasing and retiring treasury stocks, as well as distributing dividends.

An official from SK networks emphasized, “The establishment of this collaboration by Hico Capital will strengthen our investment capabilities and provide a foundation for expanding our global investment scope beyond the initial stage.”

Based in Silicon Valley, USA, Bow is an early stage venture investing firm, established with the mission to shorten the path of innovation from science to society, through its strategic relationship with the University of California system (“UC system”) as its anchor investor. The UC system spends over $7.5B per year on fundamental research across its 10 campuses, 6 medical research facilities and hospitals and 3 national research labs. While not exclusively related to the UC system, Bow leverages its relationship strategically to tap into select facets of the UC system for both sourcing investment opportunities and building its understanding of key technological, economic and societal trends. Bow then complements its UC relationship with extensive corporate operating experience and a broad network of other relationships in Silicon Valley, industry, and sports and entertainment.

Vivek Ranadivé, Bow’s Managing Director, has been at the forefront of the technology industry, from his early days at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to his time at TIBCO which powered some of the world’s largest companies and government agencies. He is an entrepreneur, technology visionary, New York Times best-selling author and philanthropist recognized for his innovative thinking. Since 2013, he has been the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Governor of the Sacramento Kings NBA team, becoming the first Indian majority owner of an NBA team, and investing $1 billion into their arena in downtown Sacramento, creating thousands of jobs and revitalizing the region.

Based in Seoul, Republic of Korea, SK networks is a business-oriented investment company with a wide span of businesses including mobility, home appliances, blockchain, ICT device distribution, trading, and hotel. The company also has in-house investment vehicle built to secure investment opportunities – mostly in early-stage start-ups – that will grow to have synergies with its existing businesses and fuel the company’s future growth.

Sunghwan Choi, SK networks’ President and COO, has been spearheading SK networks and SK Group’s investments in tech sector in Korea and globally. Mr. Choi has been an entrepreneur, investor and leader. Mr. Choi established a ride-hailing startup in Korea in 2015, one of the earliest movers in the space. Mr. Choi led the first wave of SK Group’s startup investments and established vast networks in Silicon Valley and other centers of innovation globally.


SK Networks invests $22M in the U.S. AI device startup ‘Humane’


As interest in artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly mounting, innovative companies around the world are expanding investment and partnership in the AI field. Under current circumstances, SK Networks’ decision to invest in an AI-powered device and software platform has drawn major attention from the market, especially with the company’s active move to transform itself into a business-oriented investment company by driving up investment into promising tech startups since 2018.

SK Networks announced on the 9th of March that the company has made an investment of 22 million dollars directly and indirectly through SK networks’ U.S. investment arm Hico Capital, securing 2.6% of ownership in total. 100 million dollars were raised for this round in order to bring Humane’s product to the market and further develop technology.

The investment decision was made late last year and the details were officially disclosed to stakeholders as Human’s investment round was closed recently.

The round was led by Kindred Ventures and saw participation from existing investors like Sam Altman who is the founder of OpenAI, Tiger Global, and Valia Ventures, along with new investors including SK Networks, Microsoft, Volvo, and LG Technology Ventures.

Humane is a company that uses AI to develop first-of-its kind of next generation device after mobile phone. The company was co-founded by two prominent ex-Apple talents, Bethany Bongiorno and Imran Chaudhri, who have both played a crucial role in cradling industry-leading IT hardware and software including iPhone and iPad. Humane is making AI-based innovative device software platform through which it will fulfill its mission to deliver the next era of personal mobile computing, driven by AI.

SK Networks decided to make an investment after seeing huge growth potential of the startup. It also paid attention to the facts that the company was started by top talents who led the IT device innovation in Apple and that the startup is partnering with global IT giants including Microsoft, Qualcomm, and OpenAI.

Imran Chaudhri, co-founder of Humane, commented on SK Networks’ investment, “It was very clear from the early conversations we had with SK Networks that we shared similar value and vision for the future,” and added, “We are full of expectations as to how our partnership will allow Humane’s innovation to expand to many countries around the world including Korea.”

SK Networks expects to leverage the investment to capture top-tier global network and investment prowess for AI domain. At the same time, the company will cooperate with Humane to expand their presence into global market going forward.

“Following an investment in Standard Cognition in 2021, which offers autonomous checkout solution for unmanned stores, the investment in Humane will enable SK Networks to lay the groundwork for collaborative framework with B2C and B2B businesses that utilize AI computing solutions” said Samuel Kim, managing director of Hico Capital. “We will strategically ramp up investment in Silicon Valley-based tech firms to bolster up our corporate value and share it with stakeholders.”

During its Global Annual General Meeting in February, SK Networks has presented to potential investors the current status and performance of its early stage investments with a focus on U.S. Transitioning toward a business-oriented investment company, SK Networks has declared that it will continuously enhance its investment capabilities and thereby boost up the synergy between business and investment.