Line messaging app goes public with year’s biggest tech company debut

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Line Corporation, maker of the popular messaging app Line, arrived on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Thursday morning in what turned out to be the biggest market debut of a tech company this year.

Trading under the ticker symbol “LN,” Line opened at $42. Despite suffering a slight dip, it ended the first day at $41.58, up 27 percent from its IPO price. Overall, that gives Line a market value of approximately $8 billion, CNN reports.

Updated 07-14-2016 by Saqib Shah: Added info about Line’s first day of trading on the NYSE.

The company raised $1.3 billion from selling shares on the stock market in both New York and Tokyo, a sign of solid investor confidence in the app, despite the western dominance of its rival Facebook Messenger.

Reports of an expected Line IPO first began making the rounds two years ago. In June, Line officially announced that it would seek approximately $1 billion in listings on the NYSE and the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Crucially, for Line’s main product, its stock market debut announces the app’s arrival on the world stage amidst a heated battle for users with its more popular rivals Messenger, and WhatsApp, both owned by Facebook.

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Despite those two competitors boasting a combined total of almost 2 billion users, Line has managed to carve out a niche in Asia. The app claims to have 218 million users, with 152 million of its total user base scattered across four countries in Asia, including Japan. Line has also successfully implemented an aggressive monetization policy, charging for its vast range of cute stickers, and games. In its recently announced first quarter earnings, Line claimed to have generated more than $300 million, a 21-percent increase over the same period in the previous year.

The competition is also fierce in its biggest region, with counterparts Viber (owned by Japanese firm Rakuten), and WeChat (owned by China’s Tencent) vying for users. Line will be hoping the funding from the IPO will help it gain a foothold internationally, opening the doors to new markets.

Alongside its emoji empire, Line has kept up with its rivals by adding a raft of new features including a ride-hailing option, online payments, bots, end-to-end encryption, and spinoff apps. As is now common with most messaging platforms, it also offers voice and video calls.

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