In an interview with the Financial Times, Jungho Shin said: “My biggest priority is to ensure that the company is in a constant position to deliver innovation. As many cases in the US and Europe show, the fear is that we will become big and sluggish.”
His comments came as Line announced that Shin has been appointed co-CEO alongside CEO Takeshi Idezawa and that the pair will focus on driving the company’s growth in fintech, artificial intelligence and blockchain.
Line, which is majority owned by Naver, the South Korean internet search group, has 164 million monthly active users in its core markets of Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.
The messaging app is particularly popular among Japanese consumers, who also use it to make payments, play games, buy insurance and search for jobs, yet it remains a minnow in comparison with Tencent’s WeChat and Facebook’s WeChat.
With its new management structure, which is aimed at enabling “nimbler decision-making”, as well as its willingness to expand beyond its core business, Line said that it intends to grow beyond Asia and turn itself into a global company.
“There are challenges to expanding into new areas like fintech and payment,” said Shin in his interview. “But if users want this and it is an area where we can contribute to improving their lives, we need to take on the challenge even if there are some risks.”
He added that a key criterion for success will be maintaining the type of “innovative environment” for top talent to “continue taking on challenges”, especially as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently outlined a strategy that would see it more active in private messaging and its associated services.
“Considering Facebook’s scale and the number of users, there’s no mistake that they are a formidable competitive threat,” said Shin. “But we have spent years trying to understand the needs of our user base and I am convinced we can offer services that are even more satisfying to our users.”
Sourced from Financial Times, Line, Reuters; additional content by WARC staff