Many smaller companies can rely on methods of venture capitalism- say, offering a substantial amount of equity in return for a sum of investment- to start up their business. But while private equity is a starting step for many budding corporations, the true rite of passage for many bigger companies comes from going into the public market and allowing shares to be bought and sold by investors.
Line, a Japanese/Korean messaging company did exactly that- in its New York Stock Exchange debut, it sold 35 million shares in total, with prices that climbed up to $41 a share at its peak. Overall, the company raised close to $1.3 billion in the largest technology IPO (initial public offering) of the year, and now holds a market value close to $8 billion.
Much of Line’s first-time success comes from its already well-established network in many East Asian countries; it holds a monopoly in Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan, similar to the dominance of Facebook in the West and Tencent in China. But the app also holds a unique appeal of its own- Line generated over $800 million in revenue in 2015 with sticker purchases. From animated stickers ranging from bear characters to Taylor Swift, the sticker choices that Line offers have been embraced by customers- at its peak in 2014, 1 in 10 messages was in the form of a sticker.
With its widely successful debut in the US and Japanese market, Line now plans on focusing on relatively domestic growth and strengthening its monopoly within countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Japan by moving into the taxi market as well as streaming options for music enthusiasts.