Japanese Messaging Giant Lines Up Changes to Spur Growth

Line Corp in Japan
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Line Corp. character toys sit on display at the Line Friends Store in Tokyo, Japan.

Months removed from the year's largest IPO for a tech company, but now facing slowing subscriber growth, Japanese messaging service Line Corp. is looking to two top executives to expand its user base and come up with fresh ideas.

Bloomberg reports that Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa has tapped strategy chief Jun Masuda and co-founder/Chief Global Officer Joongho Shin to build upon the 20 percent share gain the company has enjoyed since going public in July.

Line's user base of 220 million is not growing as expected and revenue from its stable of games and digital stickers is also slowing, according to the report. Line's core product is a free messaging service and app, though the Tokyo-based company has expanded to other areas including music streaming. 

Line Music, which is currently available in Japan and Thailand, boasts 30 million songs and has the benefit of being heavily integrated with the flagship Line app. Spotify launched in the country in late September, joining Apple Music and Google Play. The country's physical market dwarfs its (rising) digital recording business, each respectively generating $1.9 billion and $255 million in the first half of this year.

"You need to be ready to change your philosophy, your culture and your brand," Masuda said. "All three of us believe that the good times don't last and everything can be lost in a moment. That's why we’ve always remained hungry."

"“We need to make sure that Line continues to produce destructive innovation,” Masuda said in a separate interview with The Japan Times.

Line, which has a market value of ¥888 billion ($7.71 billion), is reportedly eyeing expansion into the BlackBerry-loving market of Indonesia.

Masada and Shin's new roles, along with a broader revamp in Line's corporate culture, are expected to be discussed at a company-wide meeting in January.