Korean e-commerce unicorn Coupang hires Walmart’s former global chief compliance officer

Coupang, the unicorn that is defining e-commerce in Korea, announced today that it has hired Jay Jorgensen, Walmart’s former global chief ethics and compliance officer, to serve as its general counsel and chief compliance officer. Jorgensen will relocate to Seoul for the position.

Founded in 2010, with a total of $3.4 billion raised from investors, including SoftBank, and a valuation of $9 billion, Coupang currently operates only in Korea, where it is the largest e-commerce player, but has offices in Seoul, Beijing, Los Angeles, Mountain View, Seattle and Shanghai.

Known for building a tech infrastructure that gives it almost complete control over delivery fulfillment, including last-mile logistics, Coupang more than doubled its revenue over the past two years to about $5 billion in 2018. The company says more than 120 million products are available on its platform and half of Koreans have downloaded its mobile app, with millions of customers ordering from Coupang more than 70 times each year.

Prior to Walmart, Jorgensen was a partner in the law firm Sidley Austin LLP. Earlier, he served as a judicial law clerk for the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and a law clerk for Samuel Alito Jr. while he sat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Jorgensen told TechCrunch in a phone call that he wanted to join Coupang because of “the extent to which it is changing life in Korea. It is not just an e-commerce player, it is the e-commerce player.” The company also reminded Jorgensen of learning about Amazon and later on Alibaba in their early days, then watching them develop into the world’s biggest e-commerce players.

When a quickly growing startup unicorn hires a chief compliance officer, the obvious question is if that means a public offering is in the works. Coupang’s vice president of marketplace and customer experience, Dan Rawson, who was also on the call with TechCrunch, said the timing of the company’s future IPO is “contingent on a number of factors, including everything from market conditions to company performance,” and that it still sees many growth opportunities both in Korea and eventually other countries.

Rawson adds that Korea, already one of the five biggest e-commerce markets in the world, is set to become the third biggest, after only China and the United States, and there is still room for growth in the country. One of Coupang’s most important advantages is its control of the last-mile delivery and customer service experience (most packages are brought to customers by “Coupang men,” or the company’s delivery workers, while some are performed by Coupang Flex, a peer-to-peer delivery program similar to Uber Eats).

More than four million products are available through its premium Rocket Delivery service, which, like Amazon Prime, offers faster shipment. Rocket Delivery’s options, however, are even faster than Amazon Prime’s. For example, one guarantees delivery by dawn if customers order by midnight. Rawson says Rocket Delivery has fulfilled more than one billion items since September 2018.