IN THE SPRING of 1995 word got to Lee Kun-hee that a batch of Samsung’s brand-new mobile phones, which it had administered as new-year gifts, did not work. Incensed, the group’s chairman bought employees at the factory that had actually made the angering gadgets to accumulate 10s of thousands of them in a courtyard. A cool $45 m-worth of devices then increased in flames.
The episode is emblematic of the method Mr Lee (envisioned), who died on October 25 th aged 78, turned a South Korean maker of knock-off electronics into an innovation powerhouse. Samsung Electronics, the group’s crown gem, has a market worth of $311 bn, more than JPMorgan Chase, America’s greatest bank.
The group should find growth beyond growing smart device markets. And it has to grapple with Mr Lee’s other tradition: an over-cosy relationship with politics that has actually embroiled his business, as well as his kid and follower, Lee Jae-yong, in corruption cases …
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