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Could Line.com Sold for Six Figures on DNS be flipped for higher?
The domain name Line.com is currently owned by Domain Investor Eric Chow of New York who also owns domain names such as Bulletin.com and several others but could Line.com be flipped for an even larger Six or even Seven Figure sum?
Line.com was sold on Frank Schilling’s Domain Name Sales platform back at the end of 2012 for $118,000 and reported on DNJournal.com, It appears it was previously owned by another Domain Investor in New York named Bill Kim according to Whoisology.com who still have a whois record from 28/12/12 showing as the last record but now on DomainTools.com it appears the owner is Eric Chow.
The reason I ask is a hugely popular App in Japan called Line is reportedly turning over $100,000,000 per Quarter, Thats right this is app is bringing revenue of $400,000,000 per annum and they don’t own the DOT COM instead they use a subdomain name for their app – Line.Naver.jp – The actually own LineCorp.com but to promote the app they redirect to Line.Naver.jp – The Line Corp business is a spin off from NHN Corp who are a publicly traded company called Naver Corporation.
Line Corporation runs completely separate from Naver and there are talks for Line Corporation to plan an IPO in the near future due to the huge success of Line App which was developed originally as an in house messaging system to assist staff in the wake of the Japanese Tsunami which brought devastion to many and cut staff off from communication towers but could use the app instead, eighteen months after Line was launched they had over 100 million users and now the revenue is sky rocketing also.
Parent Company Naver own Naver.jp but also own Naver.com so hopefully they shall acquire Line.com and give owner Eric Chow a nice payday for his domain name assuming he wishes to sell, It is currently parked at Sedo.com but is not available for sale on their platform.
Here is the full story on Line Corp.
The app, which spun out of its parent company NHN earlier this year, said it brought in 9.9 billion yen ($99.9 million) in net sales for the quarter ending in September. Overall revenues, which include the amount that Line has to pay out to the app stores and developers, has more than doubled in the past six months to 15.6 billion yen ($157.6 million).
While there have been reports in local newspapers about an impending IPO next year, the company remained quiet on the subject in an interview on Friday. But we hear from sources closely connected with the company that they are considering an offering in mid-2014.
“Of course you’re going to ask questions about an IPO,” said Jun Masuda, who had served as a chief strategy and marketing officer for Line’s original parent NHN Japan before switching over as an full-time executive on the app. “It’s a strategy we’re thinking about, especially looking at services like Twitter. But at the current moment, we don’t believe that it’s something that we have to do right away. We currently have enough cash and we don’t have a pressing need to do an IPO.”
Line has seen an astonishing rise for a skunkworks project that came out of NHN, which is the company behind South Korea’s big search portal Naver. From its launch shortly after the devastating 2011 earthquake that crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Line has accumulated 280 million registered users worldwide. They have never shared figures on monthly active users.
The app has totally saturated Japan with 49 million registered users and completely upended the mobile gaming market in Japan, undermining the historical power of gaming platforms like DeNA’s Mobage network and GREE. These two companies ruled in the feature phone era, but DeNA has now seen its shares slide 32.5 percent while GREE shares have fallen 41.5 percent over the last year. Line’s rise, along with that of other apps like Tencent’s Weixin (which has 236 million monthly actives), shows just how volatile the mobile social networking and messaging space continues to be.
Now Line is picking up momentum in the gaming space, with 39 published titles and deals in the works to bring more third-party games from abroad over into the Japanese market. They recently closed a deal with Finland’s Boomlagoon, a studio from a team of former Angry Birds developers.
Before turning into a games platform, Line had aggressively pushed stickers and sponsored accounts for revenue. (Stickers, notably, were copied by many other Western rivals like Facebook and Path).
But now, the key part of Line’s massive revenue growth now is in gaming. The games part of Line’s business now makes up 60 percent of their revenue, followed by stickers, which make up another 20 percent of their sales. Then there are sponsored accounts and merchandising, which is pretty minimal. Their gaming-centric strategy closely follows what neighboring South Korean messaging app Kakao did in coming to dominate Google Play’s charts. Kakao publishes all 10 of the top 10 grossing titles on Google Play in the country, according to App Annie.
Next, they’re considering building some type of e-commerce service or marketplace, handling both consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer transactions. That could create competition for giants like Rakuten and scores of other small e-commerce startups based in Japan.
After saturating Japan, their big growth markets are in countries like Taiwan and Thailand. Then they’ll be looking at Spanish-speaking or Latin American markets like Mexico, Spain and Brazil for growth.
The U.S. remains a tough and incredibly competitive market, even though they’ve hired local U.S. executives and partnered with artists like Snoop Dogg to grow an audience there.
“We’ve considered strategies to enter America for awhile, but it is a very difficult market at the moment,” Masuda said, declining to share how many U.S. users the app has.
He said despite upstarts like Weixin or WeChat, the venerable WhatsApp is their strongest rival, especially in growth markets like India.
“You’re able to use that app in areas with poor network connections or on smartphones without very high specs,” he said.
Even though Line has had a very quick rise, Masuda argued that it won’t be quick to fall — not like the rapid decline that GREE and DeNA have seen over the last year.
“There’s a fundamental difference between companies like us and Mobage (DeNA) and GREE,” he said. “Their SNS (social networking services) were based around games, so it was easy for users to quit the service quickly. But Line is based around communication. Users use it every day for free calls and messaging, so we think our lifespan will be longer than former SNSs.”
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