Inbae Lee

Inbae Lee

About

Initia | ex- Kakao Ventures, Kakao, Samsung, Apple, Carnegie Mellon, St. Georgeโ€™s

Work Experience

2024 โ€” Now

Caught the bug, switched gears, joined a seed stage team as an early member (non-cofounder).

2023 โ€” 2023

With the growing interest and influence coming down from the parent company and its owner, Kakao Ventures was no longer able to raise capital from the outside world, but instead only take on corporate capital for the interest of financial security of Kakao corporate group.

As someone who wanted to lead globalization of Kakao Ventures by way of inviting more overseas LPs that manage $Bs and deploy worldwide, I decided parting ways is inevitable.

Agreed to continue to remain on board as a part-timer to help manage relationships with existing stakeholders.

2019 โ€” 2023

Front office (investment) as well as middle office (global LP relationships & fundraising).

Fortunate to have returned to the seed-focused venture capital firm, now under the ownership of Kakao Corp but still with retained independence for early stage investments. The firm already have produced numerous unicorn companies by then, and with a more established team, it secured "founder's favorite" VC alongside with Altos Ventures.

Ended up backing interesting, unique companies with strong moats. Most proud of:

Also was able to capitalize on growing interest of foreign LPs into the Korean market, and, have struck a hallmark partnership with a Singaporean sovereign fund whom we invited as a fund investor in 2020. This feat was no easy to achieve due to systemic differences between the two firms, and was utterly worth it.

2016 โ€” 2018

An interesting detour of career, so to speak.

Immediately after joining K Cube Ventures in 2015, the firm went through a sudden & unexpected transition of ownership change. The chairperson sold the management company to Kakao Corp., the other big franchise he founded and controlled. And soon thereafter, the founding CEO of K Cube Ventures became the CEO of parent company. I was summoned up on a special mission because of him needing direct reports as CEO Staff member.

However, due to internal demand, hands on deck were needed for the chairperson-level initiative to incorporate a DeepMind-equivalent subsidiary called Kakao Brain Corp. to stay relevant in the AI race. This ended up being a special, one-off gig, to be the lone operator to handle all backend matters of launching the business (except HR/recruiting) for the nascent child company. For 5 months I was solely responsible as a Deputy of corporate matters, ranging from working with in-house counsels and finance team members to incorporate the subsidiary, and run all operational tasks needed until hiring of non-R&D members.

Afterwards, I transferred over to the business unit responsible for AI business (smart speaker & voice assistant platform) to work on business development efforts.

2015 โ€” 2016

A major career pivot.

During the post-Samsung self sabbatical, stumbled upon a job opportunity at the rising micro-VC founded by the esteemed chairperson of Kakao, Brian Bum-soo Kim. Wanting to gain breath of exposure into various different industries and businesses, I considered the switch a timely and choice one. And the firm saw the technical background and experience valuable for future deep tech investments.

This transition turned out to be "pivotal" jump also made at the right time, when Korean VC/startup ecosystem was going through its Cambrian explosion. Talent and energy were flowing in, as well as capital, and proper breakout companies were coming up. 2013~2014 vintage turned out to be stellar in hindsight - and watching those then-green companies grow into what they are now is truly rewarding.

2011 โ€” 2014
Engineering at Samsung Electronics, Mobile Division

Storage software stack for Galaxy smartphones.

As a Korean national the mandatory conscription is the inevitable; luckily, being at right place and time, Samsung wanted to poach anyone who could lead or aid in the crusade against Apple. I ended up switching to the dark side because of the expat offer they sugarcoated with.

Although it was truly difficult to close the American chapter of my life after spending 10 years abroad, in the end it worked out as the best scenario for taking care of the military requirement. As part of the special quota program, I had to stay employed for 3 full years at Samsung in order to have it count as alternative service.

2008 โ€” 2010

Storage firmware for iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.

It was the best first gig to have out of school. The company was undergoing the famed inflection point with the advent of iPhone on top of the iPod momentum, and so the journey with industry top talent was truly something else.

Education

2003 โ€” 2008
Pittsburgh, PA, ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
  • BS + MS (integrated) in Computer Engineering
  • Minor in Computer Science
2000 โ€” 2003
Middletown, RI, ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Cum Laude

Projects

2022
  • Rebellions.ai is Korea's best fabless startup, founded in 2020 by ex- Morgan Stanley / IBM / SpaceX / Samsung / Hynix folks. Boasting hyper scalable/flexible architecture, silicon-proven top notch performance, the team is building NPU accelerators for system trading & AI workload in data centers. Total raise is at 100B KRW ($80M) to date from instutionals Korea and Singapore.
  • Participated in Seed, Pre- Series A, Series A rounds

Writing

2021

A ten-part series on the career pivot I made for younger Korean audience
์—”์ง€๋‹ˆ์–ด๋ง์—์„œ ๋ฒค์ฒ˜์บํ”ผํƒˆ๋กœ ์ „ํ–ฅํ•˜๊ฒŒ ๋œ ์ด์•ผ๊ธฐ๋ฅผ 10ํŽธ์˜ ๋ธ”๋กœ๊ทธ ๊ธ€๋กœ ํ’€์–ด ์„ค๋ช…ํ•œ ๋ธŒ๋Ÿฐ์น˜ ์‹œ๋ฆฌ์ฆˆ

Speaking

2021

Appeared on the Korea's national English news channel for a light touch on why Korean startups end up raising growth capital from overseas

Volunteering

Features

2021

Key interview questions:
Q. ๊ฐœ๋ฐœ์ž๋กœ ์ผํ•˜์‹œ๋‹ค๊ฐ€ ๋ณธ์ธ์˜ ์ปค๋ฆฌ์–ด๋ฅผ ๋ฐ”๊พผ ๊ณ„๊ธฐ๊ฐ€ ์žˆ์œผ์‹ ๊ฐ€์š”? VC๋Š” ๋น„์ฆˆ๋‹ˆ์Šค ๊ฒฝํ—˜์ด๋‚˜ ์ปจ์„คํŒ… ๊ฒฝํ—˜์ด ํ•„์š”ํ•  ๊ฒƒ ๊ฐ™์€๋ฐ, ๊ฐœ๋ฐœ์ž ์ถœ์‹ ์œผ๋กœ ์–ด๋–ป๊ฒŒ ์ฑ„์šฉ ๊ณผ์ •์„ ํ†ต๊ณผํ•˜์…จ๋‚˜์š”?
Q. ๋ฒค์ฒ˜์บํ”ผํƒˆ์€ ๋‹ค์–‘ํ•œ ์‚ฐ์—…์˜ ๊ฒฝ๋ ฅ์ž๊ฐ€ ๋ชจ์—ฌ ์žˆ์„ ๊ฒƒ ๊ฐ™์€๋ฐ, ์ด๋“ค์€ ์–ด๋–ป๊ฒŒ ์ผํ•˜๊ณ  ์†Œํ†ตํ•˜๋‚˜์š”?
Q. ๋ณดํ†ต์€ ํˆฌ์ž์‚ฌ๊ฐ€ โ€˜๊ฐ‘โ€™์ด๊ณ  ์ฐฝ์—…๊ฐ€๋Š” โ€˜์„โ€™์ด๋ผ๊ณ  ์ƒ๊ฐํ•˜๋Š”๋ฐ, ์ง์ ‘ ํˆฌ์žํ•˜๋Š” ์ž…์žฅ์—์„œ๋Š” ์–ด๋–ป๊ฒŒ ์ƒ๊ฐํ•˜์‹œ๋‚˜์š”?
Q. ์œ ๋Šฅํ•œ VC๋Š” ์–ด๋–ค ๊ธฐ์ค€์œผ๋กœ ํ‰๊ฐ€๋˜๋‚˜์š”?

2020

Key interview questions:
Q. ์นด์นด์˜ค๋ฒค์ฒ˜์Šค๋Š” ์ดˆ๊ธฐ ํˆฌ์ž์ž ์—ญํ• ์„ ํ•˜๊ณ  ์žˆ๋‹ค. ์ดˆ๊ธฐ ํˆฌ์ž๋ž€ ์–ด๋–ค ์˜๋ฏธ์ธ๊ฐ€? / ๋ฒค์ฒ˜ ์บํ”ผํ„ธ์ด ์ •๋Ÿ‰์  ์ง€ํ‘œ๊ฐ€ ์—†๋Š” ์ดˆ๊ธฐ ์Šคํƒ€ํŠธ์—…์„ ๋Œ€์ƒ์œผ๋กœ ํˆฌ์ž๋ฅผ ๊ฐํ–‰ํ•˜๋ ค๋ฉด ์ฐฝ์—…๊ฐ€ ์ •์‹ ์„ ์ค‘์ ์ ์œผ๋กœ ๋ณผ ์ˆ˜๋ฐ–์— ์—†์„ ๊ฒƒ ๊ฐ™๋‹ค.
Q. ์Šคํƒ€ํŠธ์—…์—์„œ ๋””์ž์ธ์— ๋Œ€ํ•œ ์ธ์‹์€ ์–ด๋Š ์ •๋„์ธ๊ฐ€? ๋””์ž์ด๋„ˆ๊ฐ€ ๊ณต๋™ ์ฐฝ์—…์ž์ธ ์†Œ๊ฐœํ•  ๋งŒํ•œ ์Šคํƒ€ํŠธ์—…์ด ์žˆ๋‹ค๋ฉด?
Q. ์นด์นด์˜ค๋ฒค์ฒ˜์Šค๋Š” ํˆฌ์žํ•œ ํฌํŠธํด๋ฆฌ์˜ค ๊ธฐ์—…์„ โ€˜ํŒจ๋ฐ€๋ฆฌโ€™๋ผ๊ณ  ๋ถ€๋ฅธ๋‹ค. ํ˜ธ์นญ์—์„œ ํˆฌ์ž์‚ฌ์™€ ํฌํŠธํด๋ฆฌ์˜ค ๊ด€๊ณ„๋ฅผ ๋„˜์–ด์„  ๋ˆ๋ˆํ•œ ์šฐ์ •์ด ๋ฌป์–ด๋‚œ๋‹ค. ๋ฏธ๋ž˜์˜ ํŒจ๋ฐ€๋ฆฌ๊ฐ€ ๋  ์ฐฝ์—…๊ฐ€๋“ค์—๊ฒŒ ๋“ค๋ ค์ฃผ๊ณ  ์‹ถ์€ ์กฐ์–ธ์ด ์žˆ๋‹ค๋ฉด?

Contact

LinkedIn
Twitter
Instagram
Email