Line Corporation’s CEO Morikawa on fast and furious global expansion



This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013.

In the opening session of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013, we had a chance to hear from the CEO of Line Corporation, Akira Morikawa. The company’s popular Line chat app now boasts over 140 million users around the world, and over 45 million in its home market of Japan. The moderator, Ryuichi Nishida, tried to ask if they have a next target goal in terms of users, but Morikawa-san declined to bite on that one.

Morikawa explained a little about the recent rebranding of the company from NHN Japan to Line Corporation, explaining that this decision was largely based on creating a brand intended for global expansion.

Mr. Nishida asked about what the company’s localizing strategy is, and whether they plan to establish regional subsidiaries in all the countries or regions where they operate. Interestingly, Morikawa-san explained that they do not, noting that they prefer to operate in a more flexible manner, as a sort of borderless company. He says that when they find some success in a certain region, they do fly there and do business – but they don’t need to be there perpetually. He added:

Maybe we were lucky to succeed in each market, but we didn’t think very deeply about [each one]. Japanese companies think too much. They devise a way to do the best [thing] from the start, and then you can’t really go anywhere.

This somewhat echoes his sentiments from last week at the Japan New Economic Summit, with more of an emphasis on speed and agility. This is pretty unique for a company in Japan, and it’s likely the characteristic that contributed to their unique success thus far.

For more information on the growth of Line, please check out our interactive Line Timeline which chronicles its growth from its launch back in 2011 up until the present day.