Japan-based LINE Corporation, the developers of messaging app LINE, just announced the launch of a new $42 million investment fund, called Life Global Gateway.
This is identical to the $100 million Line Game Global Gateway fund launched in September 2014, which saw the LINE Corporation acquire 10 per cent stake of Japanese game developer Gumi.
Both funds are separate from and operate independently of LINE’s own venture arm, Line Ventures, with each operating for the duration of 10 years, ending in Q3 2024 for Line Game Global Gateway and Q1 2025 for Life Global Gateway.
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According to Line Corp: “LINE Life Global Gateway fund provides financial support to service providers operating in the fields of O2O (online to offline), e-commerce, payment, media and entertainment. By working closely with these companies, LINE aims to enhance the services that have evolved from LINE and reinforce the foundation for LINE to grow further as a global platform.”
The announcement of the new fund follows the recent establishment of a new online supermarket in Thailand, an effort by LINE Corporation to establish itself in new verticals.
Claiming to currently have a user base of 181 million active monthly users, its competitors, China-based WeChat and US-based WhatsApp claim a user base of upwards of 400 million and 700 million users respectively.
Given the disparity in user base, and the intense competition that this brings, LINE’s recent efforts of expanding into new markets like gaming, food delivery, taxi booking and mobile payments seem to be aimed at establishing a competitive advantage over its competitors.
Seen through the lens of a Five Force Analysis, this latest move is part of a larger strategic move designed to leverage on their existing user base and brand, while finding new ways to generate revenue.
Given the increased competition in the messaging app vertical, as well as their recent moves, its certain that this is only the beginning of a series of moves by LINE to maintain and improve its overall market position.
Judging by its recent move in Thailand, more moves to enter the online spaces of emerging markets like Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines can be expected in this and future quarters.