While many might not have heard of Edtech startup SmartStudy or its educational arm Pinkfong, most have heard of “Baby Shark”. The  Baby Shark Dance video on Youtube is the most viewed video of all time with over 9.8 billion views. Thanks to the success of Baby Shark, SmartStudy plans to go public in 2022. No one would have guessed an Edtech startup in Korea that launched in 2010 would become Korea’s first content-based startup to become a unicorn. Their aim is to become the Pixar of South Korea. 

How SmartStudy Started

SmartStudySmartStudy started out by producing videos that featured characters in different languages. It was started by 3 former game developers who worked at NHN and Nexon. They all decided to focus on children’s education by making and uploading four music videos for Samsung Publishing’s children’s songs on their apps. Samsung Publishing with their first investor. They focused their content on the global market from the start as potential customers were limited in South Korea. The focus quickly turned to the U.S. and Spanish markets. Therefore, the content they produced was available in English and Spanish. Their characters soon spoke several other languages such as Chinese and Russian. They published their content through their app which also offered comics and games. Soon they started to post their videos on YouTube which was crucial for its global expansion thanks to the global hit Baby Shark. 

Revenue reached over $23 million in 2018 and passed $33 million in 2019 thanks to the success of the Baby Shark Dance video on YouTube which generated billions of views. Pinkfong was able to launch its own YouTube Original series in 2019 based on the pink fox mascot. Moreover, they also made a Baby Shark movie called Pinkfong and Baby Shark’s Space Adventure that same year. They were also one of the few companies to get a boost from the pandemic as more and more people looked online for children’s educational content. Since COVID, revenue continued to rise to over $50 million.


The core of SmartStudy lies in its capacity to expand and create new realms of business based on the global licensing of its intellectual property rights. SmartStudy has signed over 2,000 license contracts with about 500 major companies from both in and outside of the country. As more than 80 percent of the company’s annual revenues now come from the overseas market, investors expect the firm’s possible listing on U.S. stock markets, such as the Nasdaq.

“If one would have to define us, we would be somewhere between Disney and Sesame Street. Disney provides imagination and entertainment. But in addition to those, we try to each of our viewers about nurturing good values and habits,” said Ryan Seungkyu Lee, Co-Founder of SmartStudy.

Why was Baby Shark a global viral hit?

Baby Shark

Did you know that Baby Shark is the most-viewed YouTube video of all time? The video has over 13 billion views! There are a few factors that explain why Baby Shark has so many views on YouTube. 

Catchy and Simple

The song’s catchy melody and simple lyrics made it easy for children and even toddlers to sing and remember. It had a repetitive structure that appealed to young audiences and encouraged participation.

Visual Appeal

The video accompanying the song featured colorful and animated characters, including a family of sharks and various underwater elements. The vibrant visuals captured the attention of the children and made the video engaging to watch.

Content for Children

Baby Shark specifically targeted young children, who are known to be frequent consumers of digital content. The song’s content was age-appropriate, entertaining, and easily accessible, making it popular among parents seeking educational and entertaining videos for their kids. It was something they could show when parents needed some extra free time.

Online Sharing and Memes

The video gained significant traction through online sharing platforms and social media. Users began creating their own versions and parodies, leading to a viral trend. Memes and challenges related to Baby Shark also contributed to its popularity, generating further interest and viewership. There were many more copycat videos which also pushed the popularity of Baby Shark.

International Appeal

The song’s simple melody and easy-to-understand lyrics transcended language barriers, enabling its global popularity. Different language versions were released, expanding its reach and attracting a diverse audience from around the world.

Algorithmic Recommendations

YouTube’s algorithm played a crucial role in the video’s success. As viewership increased and engagement metrics improved, the algorithm began recommending the video to a broader audience, further boosting its visibility and viewership.

Baby Shark first went viral after it was introduced in a morning tv show by Indonesian actor Amanda Cerny in 2017. After Indonesia, Baby Shark became popular in Malaysia and the Philippines. As Baby Shark became popular in Southeast Asia, SmartStudy made it a priority to localize its content. In 2018, #BabySharkChallenge became viral on TikTok. Soon James Corden featured Baby Shark on his The Late Late Show by singing it with Sophie Turner and Josh Groban. 

The Washington Nationals baseball team took up Baby Shark as their anthem and went on to win the World Series! The White House even played Baby Shark for the team when they visited. Finally, Elon Musk tweeted about Baby Shark saying “Baby Shark crushes all! More views than humans.” His tweet sent Samsung Publishing shares skyrocketing. Similar to what happened with the cryptocurrency Dogecoin. Baby Shark reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January of 2019 and the rest was history. 


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