line emojis stickers messaging app japan

Characters used as large-sized emojis or ‘stickers’ in the LINE app. Source: Facebook/LINE Global

LINE app looks to build on Asian popularity with one of year’s biggest tech IPOs

WITH over 200 million registered users worldwide, one of Asia’s most popular messaging service’s next goal is huge – LINE Corp. is expected to make what could be the biggest initial public offering (IPO) for a technology enterprise this year.

LINE Corp., a Japanese subsidiary of Korean internet search giant Naver, plans to open its shares to the public in Tokyo and New York this July, aiming to raise between US$1 billion and US$2 billion at a valuation of US$5 billion to US$6 billion, reports Bloomberg Technology, citing unnamed sources.

The company, based in Tokyo, also aims to raise about half of the monetary goal by pitching to U.S. investors as it plans to make its foray into the American app market.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg, LINE will become 2016’s biggest tech offering globally if it manages to pull it off. It will also become the first business to raise more than US$150 million in a tech IPO.

SEE ALSO: Thai police search for creator of LINE stickers that mocked royal family

In July 2014, LINE submitted an IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, but later cited it was “not an ideal time” for the company.

An IPO refers to the first sale of stock by a private company to the public, and is usually done by the company to gain capital in order to reach an extended goal.

LINE is already profitable, getting 35 percent of its revenue from advertisers, which is something they wish to expand. Its “stickers”, which count as communications-related products, account for about 22 percent.

The firm’s total reported revenue in 2015 was over US$1 billion (120 billion yen), up 40 percent from the previous year.

CEO Takeshi Idezawa, 42, is looking to make the company stand out by making its profitability the focus point during the upcoming roadshow with investors.

LINE’s success in the region has been attributed to it adopting different strategies in its respective target countries, as opposed to a blanket strategy to rope users in.

For instance, the developers created a line of large-sized emojis, or “stickers”, using local slang for Malaysians. In its own home market, cuteness rules the hearts of the Japanese.

The chat app’s main rivals include Facebook Messenger and China’s WeChat service, which has an impressive database of 650 million monthly active users.