Samsung (Hangul: 삼성; hanja: 三星; Korean pronunciation:) is a South Korean multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul. It comprises numerous subsidiaries and affiliated businesses, most of them united under the Samsung brand, and is the largest South Korean chaebol (business conglomerate).
Samsung was founded by Lee Byung-chul in 1938 as a trading company. Over the next three decades, the group diversified into areas including food processing, textiles, insurance, securities and retail. Samsung entered the electronics industry in the late 1960s and the construction and shipbuilding industries in the mid-1970s; these areas would drive its subsequent growth. Following Lee’s death in 1987, Samsung was separated into four business groups – Samsung Group, Shinsegae Group, CJ Group and Hansol Group. Since 1990s, Samsung has increasingly globalized its activities and electronics, particularly mobile phones and semiconductors, have become its most important source of income.
Notable Samsung industrial subsidiaries include Samsung Electronics (the world’s largest information technology company measured by 2012 revenues, and 4th in market value), Samsung Heavy Industries (the world’s 2nd-largest shipbuilder measured by 2010 revenues), and Samsung Engineering and Samsung C&T (respectively the world’s 13th and 36th-largest construction companies). Other notable subsidiaries include Samsung Life Insurance (the world’s 14th-largest life insurance company), Samsung Everland (operator of Everland Resort, the oldest theme park in South Korea) and Cheil Worldwide (the world’s 15th-largest advertising agency measured by 2012 revenues).
Samsung has a powerful influence on South Korea’s economic development, politics, media and culture and has been a major driving force behind the “Miracle on the Han River”. Its affiliate companies produce around a fifth of South Korea’s total exports. Samsung’s revenue was equal to 17% of South Korea’s $1,082 billion GDP.
According to Samsung’s founder, the meaning of the Korean hanja word Samsung (三星) is “tri-star” or “three stars”. The word “three” represents something “big, numerous and powerful”. The Korean concept derives from the Chinese deities Sanxing.
In 1938, Lee Byung-chull (1910–1987) of a large landowning family in the Uiryeong county moved to nearby Daegu city and founded Samsung Sanghoe (삼성상회, 三星商會). Samsung started out as a small trading company with forty employees located in Su-dong (now Ingyo-dong). It dealt in locally-grown groceries and made noodles. The company prospered and Lee moved its head office to Seoul in 1947. When the Korean War broke out, he was forced to leave Seoul. He started a sugar refinery in Busan named Cheil Jedang. In 1954, Lee founded Cheil Mojik and built the plant in Chimsan-dong, Daegu. It was the largest woollen mill ever in the country.
Samsung diversified into many different areas. Lee sought to establish Samsung as an industry leader in a wide range of industries. Samsung moved into lines of business such as insurance, securities and retail. President Park Chung Hee placed great importance on industrialization. He focused his economic development strategy on a handful of large domestic conglomerates, protecting them from competition and assisting them financially.
In 1947, Cho Hong-jai, the Hyosung group’s founder, jointly invested in a new company called Samsung Mulsan Gongsa, or the Samsung Trading Corporation, with the Samsung’s founder Lee Byung-chull. The trading firm grew to become the present-day Samsung C&T Corporation. After a few years, Cho and Lee separated due to differences in management style. Cho wanted a 30 equity share. Samsung Group was separated into Samsung Group and Hyosung Group, Hankook Tire and other businesses.
In the late 1960s, Samsung Group entered into the electronics industry. It formed several electronics-related divisions, such as Samsung Electronics Devices, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung Corning and Samsung Semiconductor & Telecommunications, and made the facility in Suwon. Its first product was a black-and-white television set.
In 1980, Samsung acquired the Gumi-based Hanguk Jeonja Tongsin and entered the telecommunications hardware industry. Its early products were switchboards. The facility was developed into the telephone and fax manufacturing systems and became the center of Samsung’s mobile phone manufacturing. They have produced over 800 million mobile phones to date. The company grouped them together under Samsung Electronics in the 1980s.
After Lee, the founder’s death in 1987, Samsung Group was separated into four business groups—Samsung Group, Shinsegae Group, CJ Group and the Hansol Group. Shinsegae (discount store, department store) was originally part of Samsung Group, separated in the 1990s from the Samsung Group along with CJ Group (Food/Chemicals/Entertainment/logistics), and the Hansol Group (Paper/Telecom). Today these separated groups are independent and they are not part of or connected to the Samsung Group. One Hansol Group representative said, “Only people ignorant of the laws governing the business world could believe something so absurd”, adding, “When Hansol separated from the Samsung Group in 1991, it severed all payment guarantees and share-holding ties with Samsung affiliates.” One Hansol Group source asserted, “Hansol, Shinsegae, and CJ have been under independent management since their respective separations from the Samsung Group”. One Shinsegae department store executive director said, “Shinsegae has no payment guarantees associated with the Samsung Group”.
In 1980s, Samsung Electronics began to invest heavily in research and development, investments that were pivotal in pushing the company to the forefront of the global electronics industry. In 1982, it built a television assembly plant in Portugal; in 1984, a plant in New York; in 1985, a plant in Tokyo; in 1987, a facility in England; and another facility in Austin, Texas, in 1996. As of 2012, Samsung has invested more than US$13 billion in the Austin facility, which operates under the name Samsung Austin Semiconductor. This makes the Austin location the largest foreign investment in Texas and one of the largest single foreign investments in the United States.
Samsung started to rise as an international corporation in the 1990s. Samsung’s construction branch was awarded a contract to build one of the two Petronas Towers in Malaysia, Taipei 101 in Taiwan and the Burj Khalifa in United Arab Emirates. In 1993, Lee Kun-hee sold off ten of Samsung Group’s subsidiaries, downsized the company, and merged other operations to concentrate on three industries: electronics, engineering and chemicals. In 1996, the Samsung Group reacquired the Sungkyunkwan University foundation.
Samsung became the largest producer of memory chips in the world in 1992, and is the world’s second-largest chipmaker after Intel (see Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Market Share Ranking Year by Year). In 1995, it created its first liquid-crystal display screen. Ten years later, Samsung grew to be the world’s largest manufacturer of liquid-crystal display panels. Sony, which had not invested in large-size TFT-LCDs, contacted Samsung to cooperate, and, in 2006, S-LCD was established as a joint venture between Samsung and Sony in order to provide a stable supply of LCD panels for both manufacturers. S-LCD was owned by Samsung (50% plus one share) and Sony (50% minus one share) and operates its factories and facilities in Tangjung, South Korea. As of December 26, 2011, it was announced that Samsung had acquired the stake of Sony in this joint venture.
Compared to other major Korean companies, Samsung survived the 1997 Asian financial crisis relatively unharmed. However, Samsung Motor was sold to Renault at a significant loss. As of 2010, Renault Samsung is 80.1 percent owned by Renault and 19.9 percent owned by Samsung. Additionally, Samsung manufactured a range of aircraft from the 1980s to 1990s. The company was founded in 1999 as Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the result of merger between then three domestic major aerospace divisions of Samsung Aerospace, Daewoo Heavy Industries and Hyundai Space and Aircraft Company. However, Samsung still manufactures aircraft engines and gas turbines.
In 2000, Samsung opened a computer programming laboratory in Warsaw, Poland. Its work began with set-top-box technology before moving into digital TV and smartphones. As of 2011, the Warsaw base is Samsung’s most important R&D center in Europe, forecast to be recruiting 400 new-hires per year by the end of 2013.
In 2010, Samsung announced a ten-year growth strategy centered around five businesses. One of these businesses was to be focused on biopharmaceuticals, to which the company has committed ₩2.1 trillion.
In December 2011, Samsung Electronics sold its hard disk drive (HDD) business to Seagate.
In first quarter of 2012, Samsung Electronics became the world’s largest mobile phone maker by unit sales, overtaking Nokia, which had been the market leader since 1998. On 21 August’s edition of the Austin American-Statesman, Samsung confirmed plans to spend 3 to 4 billion dollars converting half of its Austin chip manufacturing plant to a more profitable chip. The conversion should start in early 2013 with production on line by the end of 2013. On 14 March 2013, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S4.
On August 24, 2012, nine American jurors ruled that Samsung had to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages for violating six of its patents on smartphone technology. The award was still less than the $2.5 billion requested by Apple. The decision also ruled that Apple did not violate five Samsung patents cited in the case. Samsung decried the decision saying that the move could harm innovation in the sector. It also followed a South Korean ruling stating that both companies were guilty of infringing on each other’s intellectual property. In first trading after the ruling, Samsung shares on the Kospi index fell 7.7%, the largest fall since 24 October 2008, to 1,177,000 Korean Walpole Apple then sought to ban the sales of eight Samsung phones (Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 AT&T, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S2 T-Mobile, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail) in the United States which has been denied by the court.
On September 4, 2012, Samsung announced that it plans to examine all of its Chinese suppliers for possible violations of labor policies. The company said it will carry out audits of 250 Chinese companies that are its exclusive suppliers to see if children under the age of 16 are being used in their factories.
In 2013, a New Zealand news outlet reported a number of Samsung washing machines spontaneously catching on fire. The corporation is expected to spend $14 billion on advertising and marketing in 2013, with publicity appearing in TV and cinema ads, on billboards and at sports and arts events. In November 2013, the corporation was valued at $227 billion.
In May 2014, Samsung announced it will be shutting down its streaming service on 1 July 2014, also meaning the end of the Samsung Music Hub app that typically comes installed on its Android phones.
On September 3, 2014, Samsung announced Gear VR, a virtual reality device in collaboration with Oculus VR and developed for the Galaxy Note 4.
In October 2014, Samsung announced a $14.7 billion investment to build a chip plant in South Korea. Construction will begin next year with production beginning in 2017. The company has not yet decided the type of chips to be produced.
In October 2014, Samsung also announced it would invest 633 billion South Korean won ($560 million USD) in the construction of a new 700,000 square metre production complex in Vietnam.
Samsung plans to launch a new set of services beginning early 2015. The goal of this new suite of business offerings, dubbed Samsung 360 Services, is to become a help desk of sorts for businesses IT departments. The customizable services range from technical support to security solutions for having a Samsung employee embedded in a client’s business as an on-site support ma