The application used as a main form of communication between the majority of Tokyoites—and between 470 million people across 230 countries*—will reportedly be listed on both the New York and Tokyo stock exchanges.
South Korea’s Naver Corporation—the Japan-based company LINE operates as its subsidiary—filed for an IPO valued at over $10 billion in Tokyo on Wednesday. The company stated that plans to list LINE on both the US and Japan exchanges were still up in the air; however, a Bloomberg report this morning reveals LINE confidentially filed for an initial public offering in the US.
Companies with revenues of under $1 billion can submit their filings privately in the US, fitting into LINE’s revenue range of 51.8 billion yen ($508 million) in 2013.
Although the app is free to download, strong sales come in from LINE’s add-ons, including the sticker shop, games, and revenue from charging companies and public figures to send out promotional messages from an “official” account. The company also offers in-app “LINE Apps” that include everything from LINE news, LINE weather, LINE manga, LINE “malls,” and LINE Cards to send out invitations to friends.
LINE’s IPO filing comes at a time when messaging apps are on the rise, considering Facebook’s recent purchase of US-based app WhatsApp at $19 billion, and Rakuten’s acquisition of European-based app Viber at $900 million in February. The messaging app industry in Asia is a competitive market: LINE, WeChat (China), and Kakao Talk (South Korea) all offer more than just messaging within their applications.
The Asian-based companies seem to fully distinguish themselves from Western messaging apps by incorporating social, entertainment, and promotional aspects in addition to their messaging capabilities.
*The number of nations (recognized, unrecognized, and dependent) seems to be a topic that is up for debate. The standard rule of thumb puts the number of nations on Earth at about 193 or 196, but depending on exactly who’s counting and how one defines (or who defines) a nation, that figure can reach 230, and it certainly provides an impressive number for LINE’s marketing purposes…