Tech in Asia — For his interview today at Rise Conference in Hong Kong, Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa talked via an interpreter, but he used English to ask one critical question to the audience – how many of you are using Line? A sea of hands shot up, a loyal bunch of the firm’s 211 million monthly active users. Idezawa, the newly installed CEO of the Japanese messaging juggernaut, was on stage to highlight his company’s growing reach beyond Asia.
Japanese messaging app Line is bolstering its dominance in Japan with a paid on-demand music streaming service featuring an initial catalog of over 1.5 million songs. Line Music is an app and a Tokyo subsidiary that began streaming music in Japan by domestic and foreign artists on Thursday. The catalog covers music from about 30 labels and publishers, including Sony Music Entertainment Japan, in genres including classical, dance music and J-pop, or Japanese pop. Line plans to expand the catalog to 5 million songs this year, and aims for over 30 million in 2016.
LINE, the operator of Japan’s most popular mobile-messaging service owned by Korean portal giant Naver, said it has 12 million monthly active users of its news service, LINE News. The number of the news service users increased by 4.9 million during the past month. It started the service at the end of April. Its concept of the news service is to “let users know the current issues in three minutes,” and allow the users to catch up on the latest news without reading the entire text.
One of the biggest mysteries in Japan’s startup world – what will Akira Morikawa, the former Line CEO do next? – is finally solved. Morikawa unveiled his new project, a video media startup called C Channel. He also secured JPY 500 million (US$4.1 million) in funding from a banner list of investors. GMO VenturePartners, i-Style, Asobi System Holdings, Gree, Nexyz, B Dash Ventures, MAK Corporation, and Rakuten all joined the round.
Line, the chat app and gaming platform which is becoming a lifestyle portal, is restarting preparations for an IPO. The Nikkei is reporting that the company reapplied to the Tokyo Stock Exchange to begin the procedure. A 2015 IPO is possible, but not guaranteed. The move is new CEO Takeshi Idezawa’s first order of business. Yesterday, he officially took over the top spot. No, it was not an April Fool’s joke, but a transition months in the making.
More than a year after it first hit Japan, Line’s standalone ecommerce app has finally arrived in Taiwan. Currently available on Android, Line Mart features the same interface as Line Mall, its analogous Japanese counterpart. Users can browse through an assortment of categories like clothing and electronics, to find an item they’re interested in. Buyers can “heart” an item they like and leave messages for sellers.
Line Pay, the payments solution-focused subsidiary of Japanese messaging company Line, has agreed to buy out Tokyo-based WebPay Holdings in order to accelerate Line Pay’s business expansion. WebPay provides a Stripe-compatible payment processing solutions for e-commerce, web services, and mobile developers in Japan.
Line, the messaging app superstar whose press releases constantly thwart my attempts at inbox zero, has a new announcement which is sure to please entrepreneurs. Line@, the company’s version of a corporate account is going global. Signing up for the account, available via the separate Line@ app (iOS or Android), is free and multiple individuals from a single orgainzation can use their official one simultaneously.
Line, the messaging app taking over the world one sticker at a time, just announced a new investment fund. Titled the Line Life Global Gateway, the fund will operate independently from Line Ventures, although the latter company along with Line itself are the only two parties putting up capital. The JPY 500 million (US$42 million) fund went live on February 4th and is expected to operate for 10 years.
Line, the popular messaging app with 181 million monthly active users at the last count, is set to launch online grocery deliveries across Southeast Asia. Line’s new online supermarket service launches first in Thailand on February 4. It promises discounts on some everyday groceries that people need to stock up on often, such as bottled water, coffee, and instant noodles. There’ll be free delivery for Thai shoppers.
Naver said Thursday its operating profit in the fourth quarter grew 30.3 percent from a quarter ago, led by robust growth from its advertisement sales. The nation’s largest Internet service provider said in its regulatory filing on Thursday that it has posted 196.1 billion won between October and December, compared to 150.6 billion won a year ago. Its sales stood at 750.2 billion won in the same period, up 19.3 percent from last year’s 628.8 billion won.