NHN was a laggard in the Internet portal business in Korea. When it entered the market, global giants such as Yahoo already had built a formidable presence in the Korean market, where leadership advantage was cited as a defining success factor. NHN was far behind not only because of timing but also because of information sources–which are the real root of their business–due to a lack of open web sites in Korea. They also discovered that an information portal has an inherent limitation
in creating stickiness in its site. People click and leave the typical information portal upon finding their query results. However, the portal site business model is based on web advertisement, and performance depends on stickiness. This case explains how NHN beat the odds and became the leading portal in Korea. This company’s innovative technology and customer-oriented strategy not only allowed it to surpass all of its competitors, but it also is revolutionizing the portal business both in Korea and globally.