The Samsung Group is a South Korean multinational conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul. It is comprised of around 80 affiliated businesses, most of them with name Samsung attached to them. Samsung is the largest South Korean chaebol (business conglomerate). As of 2020, Samsung was the world’s 8th highest brand in terms of value. The word Samsung means “three stars.” The name was chosen by Samsung founder Lee Byung-Chul whose vision was for his company to become powerful and everlasting like stars in the sky.

Samsung was the chaebol that emerged from the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis leaner and meaner than before, capable of going head to head with any company in the world. In 2001, Samsung displaced Hyundai as South Korea’s largest conglomerate. According to Interbrand, Samsung is one of the world’s top brands and was one of fastest growing in the 2000s.

Samsung was founded in Taegu Korea 1938 by dried fish merchant Lee Byung-chul as a trading company. Over the decades, the company grew and branched out into 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 sectors would drive Samsung’s growth into one of the world’s premier companies.

Samsung Electronics — the main Samsung affiliate — is one of the world's leading electronics companies, specializing in digital appliances and media, semiconductors, memory, and system integration. It is known for producing innovative and top quality products. Samsung's history has been shaped expanding and developing product lines and increasing market share while making products that consumers like. [Source: Samsung]

The family-run group has a significant impact on South Korea’s economy, accounting for about one fifth of the country’s GDP. The Samsung Group earned US$289.6 billion (326.7 trillion won) in revenues in 2019, It accounted for about 17 percent of South Korea's gross domestic product, according to Fair Trade Commission data and a Reuters calculation.

Book: “Samsung Rising:The Inside Story of the South Korean Giant That Set Out to Beat Apple and Conquer Tech” by Geoffrey Cain, Currency, 2020

Main Chaebols

Family Groups (chaebols controlled by the owner's family or the largest shareholders)
Name— Revenues in US$ — Total Assets — Family Groups
Samsung family group — US$222.5 billion — 348.7 — Shinsegae + CJ + Hansol + JoongAng Groups
Hyundai family group — US$179 billion — 204.4 — Motors + Heavy + insurance + trading
LG family group — US$ 168 billion — 148.4 — LG 115 + GS 49.8 + LS 20.5 + LIG [Source: Wikipedia]

Chaebols Groups (Name — Revenues in US$ — Total Assets — Industries
Samsung Group — US$191 billion — 317.5 — Electronics, insurance, card, construction & shipbuilding
LG Corporation — US$101 billion — 69.5 — Electronics, display, chemicals, telecom & trade
Hyundai Motor Group — US$94.5 billion — 128.7 — Automobiles, steel & trading
SK Group — US$92 billion — 85.9 — Energy, telecom, trading, construction & semiconductors
GS Group — US$44 billion — 39.0 — Energy, retail & construction
Lotte Corporation — US$36.5 billion — 54.9 — Construction, food, energy, hospitality & retail
Hyundai Heavy Industries Group — US$27.6 billion — 42.8 — Heavy industry (including Hyundai Mipo Dockyard)

Samsung Affiliates and Industries

Samsung has nearly 80 affiliates. The main ones are: 1) Samsung Electronics — the world's largest information technology company, consumer electronics maker and chipmaker; 2) Samsung Heavy Industries — the world's 2nd largest shipbuilder; 3) Samsung Engineering — the world's 13th largest construction company; 4) Samsung C&T Corporation the world's 36th largest construction companies; 5) Samsung Life Insurance — the world's 14th largest life insurance company); 6) Cheil Worldwide — the world's 15th largest advertising agency; and 7) Samsung Everland — operator of Everland Resort, the oldest theme park in South Korea. There are various interrelations between main Samsung affiliates. For example, Samsung Life Insurance controls Samsung Electronics' stocks. [Source: Wikipedia]

Samsung family group — US$222.5 billion — 348.7 — Shinsegae + CJ + Hansol + JoongAng Groups
Samsung Electronics — US$106.8 billion — 105.3 — Electronics, LCD, TV, mobile phone, semiconductor
Samsung Life — US$22.4 billion — 121.6 — insurance
Samsung C&T Corporation — US$18.1 billion — 15.4 — Trade & construction
CJ Group — US$11 billion — 12.3 — Food & shopping
Samsung Fire billion — US$10.3 — 23.0 — insurance
Shinsegae — US$9.7 billion — 10.7 — Shopping
Samsung Heavy Industries— US$9.5 billion — 26.5 — Shipbuilding [Source: Wikipedia, 2020]

Products, industries and interests of the main Samsung affiliates:
Samsung Electronics — smartphones and mobile devices, televisions, cameras, other consumer products, electronics parts, including lithium-ion batteries, chips, semiconductors, hard drives, etc. Customers include Apple, HTC, and Sony
Samsung Heavy Industry — shipbuilding
Samsung C&T — construction, investment, and trading (which extends the companies control into natural resources including coal and gas, as well as wind power, steel, chemicals, and textiles),
Samsung Life Insurance — Life Insurance
Samsung Everland-Cheil Industries — Clothing and luxury retail, entertainment, and theme parks,
Samsung SDS — Information technology,
Cheil Worldwide — Advertising and marketing,
Samsung Techwin — surveillance, aeronautics, and weapons technology
Hotel Shilla — Hospitality, hotels, resorts, and duty-free shops [Source: Business Insider, 2014]

Sam Grobart of Bloomberg wrote: “A Seoul resident may have been born at the Samsung Medical Center and brought home to an apartment complex built by Samsung’s construction division (which also built the Petronas Twin Towers and the Burj Khalifa). Her crib may have come from overseas, which means it could have been aboard a cargo ship built by Samsung Heavy Industries. When she gets older, she’ll probably see an ad for Samsung Life Insurance that was created by Cheil Worldwide, a Samsung-owned ad agency, while wearing clothes made by Bean Pole, a brand of Samsung’s textile division. When relatives come to visit, they can stay at The Shilla hotel or shop at The Shilla Duty Free, which are also owned by Samsung. [Source: Sam Grobart, Bloomberg, March 29, 2013]

Samsung Life Insurance is biggest life insurer in South Korea with about 26 percent of local market share. Founded in 1957, the insurer’s growth accelerated after it was incorporated under Samsung Group in 1963. Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani of CNBC wrote: Its initial public offering in 2010, which raised $4.4 billion, catapulted the firm to the status of one of South Korea’s most valuable companies. The insurer’s top shareholder is Lee Kun-hee, South Korea’s richest man and former CEO of parent firm Samsung Group. The company is at the heart of a web of Samsung Group cross-shareholdings that have come into question as Lee defends three lawsuits from relatives on his holdings in the conglomerate. [Source: Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani, CNBC, July 20, 2012]

Samsung Affiliates by Industry and Sector

Samsung Fine Chemicals
Samsung General Chemicals
Samsung Petrochemical
[Sources: Hoover's, company reports, Los Angeles Times, 2005]

Samsung Corning (TV picture-tube glass)
Samsung Electro-Mechanics (Electronic components)
Samsung Electronics (Semiconductors, consumer electronics)
Samsung SDI (Display screens, batteries)
Samsung SDS (Systems integration, telecommunications)

Financial and insurance
Samsung Capital
Samsung Card (Loans, cash advances, financing)
Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance
Samsung Investment Trust Management
Samsung Life Insurance
Samsung Securities
Samsung Venture Investment

Cheil Communications (Advertising)
Cheil Industries (Textiles)
S1 (Security systems)
Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology
Samsung Corp. (General trading)
Samsung Engineering
Samsung Everland (Amusement parks)
Samsung Heavy Industries (Machinery, vehicles)
Samsung Lions (Pro baseball team)
Samsung Techwin (Fine machinery including semiconductor equipment)
Shilla Hotels & Resorts

Samsung Success

Samsung is now one of the world's most recognized brands of electronic goods, and South Koreans regard it as a source of national pride. In 2005 Samsung's brand overtook rival Sony in leading consumer surveys. "You have to give them [Samsung] credit where it's due," Chang Ha Joon, a professor of economics and politics at Cambridge University, told the Los Angeles Times [Source: Don Lee, Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2005]

Don Lee wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “South Korea's economy has long been dominated by family-owned conglomerates. These companies, called chaebol, played a powerful role in lifting South Korea out of poverty and turning it into the world's 11th-largest economy. Analysts estimate that Samsung, Hyundai Group, LG Group and other chaebol account for the bulk of South Korea's exports and tax revenue. Samsung is the biggest of them all. With 61 affiliate companies, whose operations include aircraft engines, hospitals, hotels and textiles, Samsung makes up an estimated 15 percent of South Korea's economic activity, analysts say. Its products account for one-fifth of the nation's exports. Samsung says one-fifth of its $122 billion in revenue in 2004 came from sales in North America.

According to The Economist: The hottest chilli in the Samsung kimchi bowl is Samsung Electronics, which started out making clunky transistor radios but is now the world's biggest technology firm, measured by sales. China sends emissaries to study what makes the firm tick in the same way that it sends its bureaucrats to learn efficient government from Singapore. To some, Samsung is the harbinger of a new Asian model of capitalism. It ignores the Western conventional wisdom. It sprawls into dozens of unrelated industries, from microchips to insurance. It is family-controlled and hierarchical, prizes market share over profits and has an opaque and confusing ownership structure. Yet it is still prodigiously creative, at least in terms of making incremental improvements to other people's ideas: only IBM earns more patents in America. Having outstripped the Japanese firms it once mimicked, such as Sony, it is rapidly becoming emerging Asia's version of General Electric, the American conglomerate so beloved of management gurus.” [Source: The Economist, October 1, 2011]

“There is much to admire about Samsung.. It is patient: its managers care more about long-term growth than short-term profits. It is good at motivating its employees. The group thinks strategically: it spots markets that are about to take off and places huge bets on them. The bets that Samsung Electronics placed on DRAM chips, liquid-crystal display screens and mobile telephones paid off handsomely.” In the 2010s the group planned “to gamble again, investing a whopping $20 billion in five fields in which it is a relative newcomer: solar panels, energy-saving LED lighting, medical devices, biotech drugs and batteries for electric cars.” As of the early 2020s, Samsung didn’t seem to have made much impact on the solar panels and medical devices sectors and it still seem to rely on smart phones and chips.

How Samsung Conquered the World

Raymond Zhong wrote in the New York Times: South Korea’s best-known export, Samsung, bean as “an obscure maker of cheap microwaves that Western expatriates in the country had taken to calling “Sam-suck.” Today, Samsung is a household name, and a bigger smartphone maker than Apple. But its path to the top was strewn with secret deals, price fixing, bribery, tax evasion and more, all of it overseen by an ultrasecretive, ultrarich family ready to use every means at its disposal to stay in command. [Source: Raymond Zhong, New York Times, March 17, 2020]

“The journalist Geoffrey Cain tells this story in “Samsung Rising,” and in his account both the good and bad of Samsung were imprinted upon it in its earliest decades. The company was founded in 1938 as a shop selling vegetables and dried fish. South Korea after the war was a poor backwater. And as Samsung’s founder, Lee Byung-chul, expanded into sugar, finance, chemicals, electronics and beyond, he felt he was building not just a business, but the entire nation of South Korea along with it. Over-the-top, world-conquering ambition became a Samsung signature, as did unquestioning reverence for company brass and military-style discipline. Cain describes a leaked video in which seas of Samsung recruits parade in formation, holding up placards to form moving patterns. “It was amazing, scary and weird,” one employee told Cain.

“South Korea’s leaders were mostly happy to accommodate Samsung’s ambitions, and by the 1960s the company was already a symbol for how political connections could lead to great riches. Samsung’s coziness with the government grew as the company did, helping its chairman, Lee Kun-hee, twice be granted presidential pardons for white-collar crimes. Today, across the Republic of Samsung, as South Korean cynics call their country, it can feel impossible to escape the company’s influence, which stretches from gadgets to hospitals to art.

Samsung “keeps a tight lid” on “almost anything to do with the ruling Lee dynasty... This is a shame, because the Lees are a truly HBO-worthy bunch. The ailing patriarch, Kun-hee, is a mercurial loner who breeds dogs and spends his free time speeding around in sports cars on Samsung’s private racetrack. His son and heir, Jae-yong, is widely regarded, Cain writes, as “more entitled than he was competent.” The family’s unending feuds, tragedies and intrigues are the stuff of fascination among South Koreans.

“The Lees’ maneuverings have gotten Samsung into trouble in recent years. In 2017, South Korean courts ruled that the company had bribed the country’s president to win support for a corporate takeover that solidified the family’s control over the empire. Lee Jae-yong served barely a year in jail before his five-year sentence was commuted. Samsung did just fine financially during that time. As Cain puts it: “If the empire was posting record profits while its king-in-waiting sat in jail, then what was the point in having a king-in-waiting?” Cain helps answer his own question when he recounts a conversation he had at that time with a former Samsung boss. With the Lees in crisis, “Our empire is not an empire,” the man laments. “We are becoming like any corporation.”

Samsung Electronics

Samsung Electronics is the flagship subsidiary of the Samsung Group. It is the world’s biggest technology firm by revenue, and by far the largest-listed company in South Korea. Its market capitalization is more than three times larger than the closest rival — Hyundai Motor. It was founded in 1969 and is the now the world’s biggest maker of memory chips, smartphones televisions.

▪Samsung Electronics is the world's largest information technology company, consumer electronics maker and chipmaker. Its main products are smartphones, mobile devices, televisions, cameras, other consumer products. It also makes electronics parts, including lithium-ion batteries, chips, semiconductors, hard drives and other electronic products and components used by other companies, including competitors. Customers include Apple, HTC, and Sony

Samsung Electronics was founded in 1969.Headquartered in Samsung Digital City, in Suwon, 30 kilometers south of Seoul, it employs 287,439 people. In 2020, its revenues were US$200.6 billion, it operating income was US$30.5 billion, it net income was US$22.4 billion, its total assets were US$320.4 billion and its total equity was US$233.7 billion. All of these figures were higher than the previous year .

A) The leaders of Samsung Electronics: 1) Lee Jae-yong (chairman); 2) Kwon Oh-hyun (vice chairman and CEO); 3) Young Sohn (president). B) Main Owners: Government of South Korea through National Pension Service (10.3 percent); Samsung Life Insurance (8.51 percent); Samsung C&T Corporation (5.01 percent); Estate of Lee Kun-hee (4.18 percent); Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance (1.49 percent); C) Main Subsidiaries: Samsung Medison; Samsung Telecommunications; SmartThings; Harman International; Viv

History of Samsung Electronics

By the late 1960s, Samsung found Lee Byung Chul chose electronics to be the focus of Samsung's manufacturing. In the late 1970s Samsung put Korean engineers to work dismantling color television sets from the United States, Europe and Japan to see how they could be copied. It took about three years for Samsung to go into production of color television sets. In 1979 Samsung started making VCR's and in 1980 microwave ovens. [Source: Samsung]

In 1969 , Samsung-Sanyo Electronics was established (renamed Samsung Electro-Mechanics in March 1975 and merged with Samsung Electronics in March 1977). The production of a black-and-white television (model: P-3202) started at Samsung-Sanyo began soon afterwards. A huge burst of growth for Samsung occurred in the burgeoning home electronics business. Samsung Electronics, already a major manufacturer in the Korean market, began to export its products for the first time during this period. [Source: Samsung]

In 1972, production of black-and-white televisions for domestic sale began. In 1974
washing machine and refrigerator production started. In 1976, the 1 millionth black-and-white TV was produced. In 1977 Samsung started to export color televisions In 1978, the 4 millionth black-and-white TV — most in the world — was produced. In 1979, the company began mass production of microwave ovens, In 1980, the 1 millionth color TV was produced. In 1982, the 10 millionth black-and-white was TV produced. In 1984, the first Samsung VCRs were exported to the U.S. In 1989, the 20 millionth color TV was produced.

In 1982, Korea Telecommunications Corp. changed its name to Samsung Semiconductor & Telecommunications Co. In 1988, Samsung Semiconductor & Telecommunications Co merged with Samsung Electronics and home appliances, telecommunications, and semiconductors were selected as core business lines. In the mid-1990s, 17 different products — from semiconductors to computer monitors, TFT-LCD screens to color picture tubes—climbed into the ranks of the top-five products for global market share in their respective areas, and 12 others achieved top market ranking in their areas.

By the early 2000s, Samsung Electronics Co. was a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, digital media and digital convergence technologies with 2003 parent company sales of US$36.4 billion and net income of US$5 billion. At that time the company employed approximately 88,000 people in 89 offices in 46 countries. There were five main business units: 1) Digital Appliance Business, 2) Digital Media Business, 3) LCD Business, 4) Semiconductor Business and 5) Telecommunication Network Business. Recognized as one of the fastest growing global brands,

A spokesman for Samsung told the New York Times in the early 2000s: “We are into every kind of electronic product, from chips to cell phones.” Among its $26.6 billion in sales 30 percent was in telecommunications, mainly cell phones; 29 percent was in digital media such as monitors, televisions and personal computers; 27 percent was in semiconductors; 10 percent was in appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners and microwave ovens; and 6 percent was in other.

Samsung’s Complex Ownership Structure

There are various interrelations between main Samsung affiliates. Samsung Life Insurance controls a good portion of Samsung Electronics' stocks and it in turn is controlled by Samsung Everland. According to The Economist, The “Samsung group”, has no legal identity: its 83 firms shelter under an umbrella company in which the Lee family has a controlling 46 per cent stake.

Matt Phillips wrote in Quartz: “The ownership structure of the whole Samsung group is extremely complicated with some circulars within the affiliates. The chairman and family effectively control the group through their key five holdings in Samsung Everland, Samsung Life, Samsung C&T and Samsung Electronics. The de facto holding company of Samsung group is Samsung Everland, which owns Samsung Life and Samsung Electronics. [Source: Matt Phillips, Quartz, June 20, 2014]

Donald Green wrote in the New York Times: “Legislators, regulators and advocates of shareholders' rights are questioning the financial structure that links Samsung's 61 affiliates and are trying to gain some influence over how the company is controlled and eventually will be passed on to Lee's son, Lee Jay Yong. This attention comes as regulators and legislatorstry to correct the imbalance between voting rights and the exercise of power by the founding families in the country's conglomerates, or chaebol, in an effort to protect shareholders. They are also trying to strengthen the independence of financial companies like insurers. [Source: Donald Green, New York Times, August 18, 2005]

“Critics say Samsung's complex system of ownership, tying together an array of financial, manufacturing and other affiliates, breaches either the letter or the spirit of South Korean corporate law. Kim Sun Woong, executive director of the Center for Good Corporate Governance, said the ownership and control structures at Samsung were "not for the shareholders' profit but rather to retain Lee Kun Hee's corporate control."

“From its majority-owned perch in Samsung Everland, a de facto holding company and operator of South Korea's version of Disneyland, the Lee family controls the country's largest insurer, Samsung Life Insurance, and through it, Samsung Electronics, its largest company by market capitalization.South Korea's Fair Trade Commission released a report showing an imbalance between direct ownership by founding families in the chaebol and the level of voting rights they exercise. Within South Korea's 55 top chaebol and their 968 affiliates, founding families on average own just 5 percent of the shares but exercise 51.2 percent of the voting rights, according to the commission. The Lee family, with an average of 4.4 percent ownership of Samsung companies, exercised 31 percent of the voting rights. Lee Seuk Joon, director of the commission's business group division, said the government wanted to "reduce the gap between ownership rights and controlling rights by chaebol chiefs" to protect rights of minor shareholders and improve corporate checks and balances.

Working at Samsung

Don Lee wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “ Samsung workers remain loyal to their company, and many others want to join Samsung. A Samsung business card means you're part of an elite social and economic class. At Samsung Electronics, the average pay” was about $70,000 in 2005 — “ more than triple South Korea's per capita income. [Source: Don Lee, Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2005]

Sam Grobart of Bloomberg wrote: “Management is centered around a number of central slogans: “Fostering the individual” and “change begins with me” are commonly heard phrases. Perhaps most important, it deals in quality control, or “quality management,” as it’s called within the company. [Source: Sam Grobart, Bloomberg, March 29, 2013]

Conglomerates have been out of favor in most of the industrialized world for decades. What separates Samsung from Gulf + Western, Sunbeam, and other extinct examples is focus and opportunism taken to the extreme. “Samsung is like a militaristic organization,” says Chang Sea Jin, a professor at the National University of Singapore and the author of Sony vs. Samsung. “The CEO decides which direction to move in, and there’s no discussion—they carry out the order.”

“Samsung’s like clockwork,” says Mark Newman, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein who worked at Samsung from 2004 to 2010, for a time in its business strategy department. “You have to fall in line. If you don’t, the peer pressure’s unbearable. If you can’t follow a specific directive, you can’t stay at the firm.”

Samsung Recipe for Product Success

Sam Grobart of Bloomberg wrote: “Consider the disciplined way Samsung Electronics moves into new product categories. Like other Korean conglomerates—LG and Hyundai come to mind—the first step is to start small: make a key component for that industry. Ideally the component will be something that costs a lot of money to manufacture, since costly barriers to entry help limit competition. Microprocessors and memory chips are perfect. “A semiconductor fab costs $2 billion to $3 billion a pop, and you can’t build half a fab,” says Lee Keon Hyok, Samsung’s global head of communications (and no relation to Chairman Lee). “You either have one or you don’t.” [Source: Sam Grobart, Bloomberg, March 29, 2013]

“Once the infrastructure is in place, Samsung begins selling its components to other companies. This gives the company insight into how the industry works. When Samsung decides to expand operations and start competing with the companies it has been supplying, it makes massive investments in plants and technologies, leveraging its foothold into a position that other companies have little chance of matching. Last year, Samsung Electronics devoted $21.5 billion to capital expenditures, more than twice what Apple spent in the same period. “Samsung makes big bets on technologies,” says Newman. “They study the hell out of the problem, and then they bet the farm on it.”

“As Samsung has risen, others have failed, often in spectacular fashion: Motorola was split up and its handset business sold to Google. Nokia watched its long-standing No.1 position erode when it got blindsided by smartphones. The Sony-Ericsson partnership dissolved. Palm disappeared into Hewlett-Packard. BlackBerry continues to be on a 24-hour watch and has had its belt and shoelaces confiscated. When it comes to mobile hardware, today there’s only Apple, Samsung, and a desperate crowd of brands that can’t seem to rise above being called “the rest.”

“Such striving for efficiency and excellence wasn’t always a priority. In 1995, Chairman Lee was dismayed to learn that cell phones he gave as New Year’s gifts were found to be inoperable. He directed underlings to assemble a pile of 150,000 devices in a field outside the Gumi factory. More than 2,000 staff members gathered around the pile. Then it was set on fire. When the flames died down, bulldozers razed whatever was remaining. “If you continue to make poor-quality products like these,” Lee Keon Hyok recalls the chairman saying, “I’ll come back and do the same thing.”

Samsung Training

Reporting from the Samsung Human Resources Development Center in Yongin, a city about 45 minutes south of Seoul, Sam Grobart of Bloomberg wrote: “. The complex’s formal name is Changjo Kwan, which translates as Creativity Institute. It’s a massive structure with a traditional Korean roof, set in parklike surroundings. In a breezeway, a map carved in stone tiles divides the earth into two categories: countries where Samsung conducts business, indicated by blue lights; and countries where Samsung will conduct business, indicated by red. The map is mostly blue. In the lobby, an engraving in Korean and English proclaims: “We will devote our human resources and technology to create superior products and services, thereby contributing to a better global society.” Another sign says in English: “Go! Go! Go!” [Source: Sam Grobart, Bloomberg, March 29, 2013]

“More than 50,000 employees pass through Changjo Kwan and its sister facilities in a given year. In sessions that last anywhere from a few days to several months, they are inculcated in all things Samsung: They learn about the three P’s (products, process, and people); they learn about “global management” so that Samsung can expand into new markets; some employees go through the exercise of making kimchi together, to learn about teamwork and Korean culture.

“They will stay in single or shared rooms, depending on seniority, on floors named and themed after artists. The Magritte floor has clouds on the carpet and upside-down table lamps on the ceiling. In a hallway, the recorded voice of a man speaking Korean comes over the loudspeakers. “Those are some remarks the chairman made some years ago,” a Samsung employee explains.

She’s referring to Lee Kun Hee, the chairman of Samsung Electronics,” who “maintains a low profile. Except within Samsung, that is, where he’s omnipresent. It’s not just the slogans over the sound system; Samsung’s internal practices and external strategies—from how TVs are designed to the company’s philosophy of “perpetual crisis”—all spring from the codified teachings of the chairman.

Samsung Factory

Sam Grobart of Bloomberg wrote: “All of that is vividly on display at another Samsung holy site, the Gumi complex, located about 150 miles south of Seoul. Gumi, Samsung’s flagship smartphone manufacturing facility, is where Samsung built its first mobile phone: the SH-100, a Brobdingnagian handset that rivaled Gordon Gekko’s Motorola DynaTac 8000 in tonnage. [Source: Sam Grobart, Bloomberg, March 29, 2013]

“The first thing you notice about Gumi is the K-pop. Korean pop music seems to be everywhere outside, usually coming from outdoor speakers disguised as rocks. The music has an easy, mid-tempo style, as if you were listening to a mellow Swing Out Sister track in 1988. The music, a Samsung spokeswoman explains, is selected by a team of psychologists to help reduce stress among employees.

“There are more than 10,000 workers at Gumi. The vast majority are women in their early 20s. Like most twentysomethings, they move in groups, often with their heads down as they look at their phones. Workers wear pink jackets, some wear blue—which color is a matter of personal preference. Many of the unmarried employees also live at Gumi in dorms that have dining rooms, fitness centers, libraries, and coffee bars. Coffee’s big in Korea; the coffee shop on the Gumi campus has its own roaster.

“Inside, Gumi is surprisingly warm and humid. The factory is part of a global network of Samsung facilities that, in 2012, produced a total of 400 million phones, or 12 phones every second. Workers at Gumi are not on an assembly line; production is done on a cellular basis, with each employee standing within a three-sided workbench that has all the necessary tools and supplies an arm’s reach away. The employee is then responsible for the overall assembly of the phone. Computer stations located throughout the assembly facility can call up real-time manufacturing data from any Samsung facility in the world.

“Banks of quality-testing equipment fill one room. Small plastic propellers spin above the air vents of many of the machines. “It was an employee’s idea,” a tour guide explains. “It was difficult to determine if a machine was functioning from far away. The employee suggested that propellers would be a good indication if the machine was on.” Samsung employees are given incentives to come up with ideas like these. A cost savings is calculated, and a portion of that is returned to the employee as a bonus.”

Samsung Product Unveiling

Sam Grobart of Bloomberg wrote: “For the Galaxy S 4 unveiling in mid-March, Samsung rented Radio City Music Hall on a Thursday night. TV trucks were parked outside, and lines of people snaked around the block. The lobby was packed. As a point of comparison, a Motorola event in New York six months earlier was held in a party space that had sold its naming rights to Haier, the Chinese appliance company. Nokia’s event the same day was nearby at a low-profile, generic event facility. [Source: Sam Grobart, Bloomberg, March 29, 2013]

“At Radio City, Broadway actor Will Chase mastered the ceremonies in between surreal sketches of actors portraying average consumers using the Galaxy S 4’s features in various situations. Elaborate sets evoking a school, Paris, and Brazil emerged from the stage floor. An orchestra rose up on hydraulic lifts. A little boy tap-danced. The whole show seemed inexplicable—save as a metaphor for Samsung’s try-everything mobile business. “Samsung makes every kind of handset in every market in every size at every price,” says Evans. “They’re not stopping to think. They’re just making more phones.”

“The Galaxy S 4 doesn’t come out until late April. It’s fast, has a big, bright screen, and will probably be another huge hit for Samsung, as will the S 4 mini that will go on sale soon after. Yet when discussing Samsung’s immediate future, Lee Keon Hyok betrays zero triumphalism. He’s seen this before and knows that it’s counter to the principles of New Management to derive pleasure from the success of today. “In 2010 it was a banner year for the whole group,” he says, sitting in his 35th-floor office in Seoul. “The chairman’s response? ‘Our major businesses can disappear in 10 years.’”

Which is Bigger Samsung or Apple?

Srikant Ritolia, Intern at Samsung, posted on Quora in 2013: Samsung is a much bigger company than Apple. Samsung is a conglomerate company. Samsung industrial subsidiaries include Samsung Electronics, Samsung Heavy Industries (second-largest shipbuilder measured by 2010 revenues),Samsung Engineering, Samsung C&T (construction business), and Samsung Techwin (a weapons technology and optoelectronics manufacturer), etc. The combined revenue of all the subsidaries is much higher than Apple. Fortune Ranking - Samsung Electronics is 20th in the fortune global ranking list 2012 whereas apple is 55th in the list. Samsungs's revenue was US$148.9 Billion whereas that of Apple was US108.2 billion.

Kenneth McLaughlin, posted on Quora in 2014: According to Forbes Magazine, Apple is the most valuable brand with a market cap of $416.62 billion. Samsung is the ninth most valuable brand with a market cap of $174.39 billion making Apple the larger company financially. Apple has an employee headcount of 80,300 full time individuals not including factory workers and Apple store employees. Samsung employs 270,000 worldwide including the factories, which they own unlike Apple. This makes Samsung the larger company employee-wise.

Tejas Upmanyu, iOS Developer and Computer Science Enthusiast, posted in 2018: According to the Korea Exchange on March 20, the combined market capitalization of 23 Samsung affiliates, including preferred stocks, stood at 442.47 trillion won (US$395.77 billion). Apple took the top spot in the tech group weeks after shares hit a new record high, reaching over $147 per share for the first time on May 2 despite disappointing iPhone sales. For the past year, Apple saw $217 billion in sales, $45 billion in profit, $331 billion in assets and a market cap of $752 billion. Apple is not only the largest tech company in the world, but also also the 9th largest company in the world.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.

Text Sources: South Korean government websites, Korea Tourism Organization, Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

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