Exclusive: Daniel Kim Stepping Down as Nexon America CEO

After three years running Nexon’s U.S. office, Daniel Kim is stepping down as CEO to join his family in Korea.

Maple Story

Nexon confirms to AllThingsD  that effective Sept. 1, Min Kim, Nexon’s SVP of live games, will be replacing Daniel Kim. The announcement was made in front of the company’s 200 U.S. employees this afternoon.

A spokesman says Daniel Kim will continue working with the company from the Korea office in a yet-to-be-determined role, and is looking forward to being back with his family after commuting between the two continents since 2009.

Daniel Kim

“It’s been part of a long-term plan,” Min Kim said, in an exclusive interview. “This has been overdue. He’s done a great job and has positioned it well for growth. After three years here, he’ll be back with family and make up for lost time.”

Min Kim joined Nexon in 2003, and moved to Los Angeles in 2005 to help open the U.S. office.

In his new role, he will oversee the company’s free-to-play PC games, including MapleStory, Dragon Nest and Combat Arms. The games, which are monetized through virtual goods, are available directly from the company’s Web site, and more recently, through the Steam platform. As part of the role, Min Kim will not be managing the company’s social and mobile game efforts, which are based out of the company’s Korea offices.

Awareness about the Japanese company has increased dramatically over the past year after it raised $1.2 billion in an IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange just days before Zynga went public, raising a similar amount.

Min Kim

Min Kim said the company has come a long way since first launching operations in the U.S. At the time, he said free-to-play was a “freaky thing going on in Asia, and was never going to happen here.” He said the company had to work hard to prove that not only would customers be willing to play games online, but they would also be willing to pay for virtual items. In 2007, Min Kim spearheaded the effort to develop gift cards that enabled online payments to be made more easily.

Even though North America has made a lot of progress, it makes up only 7 percent of the company’s overall revenue. For the full year 2011, the North American division reported total revenue of $80 million, which is up 50 percent since 2008.

Min Kim said he sees a big opportunity lying ahead in the traditional games space, where people play games for years at a time and for long stretches every month. As a younger gaming demographic grows up, and moves on from other experiences, such as Disney’s Club Penguin, “we’ll be in the sweet spot,” he said.

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