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“It would be difficult to function here without it.”Spy on other passengers in the Tokyo subway, and there’s a more-than-decent chance that you’ll spot a salaryman or schoolgirl interacting on their smartphone with Brown, Cony, or one of the app’s other hyperlovable mascots. subscribers signed up, with nearly 4 million using the service regularly.Visit a restaurant and a small placard at the cashier invites you to follow the business on Line in return for discounts. Visit an electronics store and you’ll find them in plush form, as prizes in a coin-operated crane game. But it has held off until it can prove that it can be as relevant everywhere as it is in Japan. The question now is simply how far this strange mix of Disney-meets-Skype-meets-Facebook can go.Line is headquartered in Shibuya Hikarie, a gleaming high-rise in the heart of Shibuya, the Times Square–like hub of commerce centered around one of Japan’s busiest train stations.I am here to meet Takeshi Idezawa, who was promoted from COO to CEO of Line Corp. Expecting Japanese formality, I’ve donned a suit and tie for the occasion, but Idezawa is dressed like a Silicon Valley exec, in a collarless gray shirt under a gray jacket.On this Saturday morning in mid-December, a throng of extremely excited twentysomething men and women crowd into the grand opening of a 1,700-square-foot shop located across the street from H&M and Forever 21.As they enter the store, they’re greeted by two costumed characters: a deadpan bear and an exuberant rabbit.11,000 : Number of stickers submitted during a contest in the U. million: Gross revenue from Line’s Creators Market in its first seven months..49: Cost for a sheet of physical stickers featuring Line’s Brown the bear.

Less than four years after Line’s launch, the company says that more than 560 million people worldwide have registered as members, the majority of them in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand.This new store, called Line Friends, is different, to put it mildly.For one thing, it’s not owned by a retailer but by a social media company called Line, which in less than four years has become Japan’s hottest phenomenon by offering an app that provides free messaging and video and phone calls.As part of the spinoff, Joey Levin, the CEO of its search business, has been named CEO of IAC and will join its board.Greg Blatt stays chairman of the Match Group with Sam Yagan as CEO.

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