One of the most popular instant messaging apps LINE has announced today that its CEO Akira Morikawa, who has been head of the company since 2013, will step down from next year.
Past year was a joyride for instant messaging apps in the wake of $22 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook. Investors have seen a lot of promise in these simple instant messaging apps which are growing from free SMS platforms to full fledged mobile platforms for payments, gaming and shopping etc.
The current chief operating officer of LINE, Takeshi Idezawa will be replacing the current CEO in March 2015, which will happen after a board meeting and shareholders meeting that month. Morikawa did not say where he was heading now but he said in a blog post that he will remain an adviser to LINE even after stepping down.
Perhaps the main reason for stepping down of LINE CEO is not having enough active users. The company has announced that it has 170 million active users out of a total number of half a billion users which indicates that the company has invested big time in getting people signed up but has not been able to retain them as active users.
LINE has not been able to really break out of Japan, Taiwan and Thailand and remains at a high risk of being struck out of competition of other popular Asian apps like KakaoTalk.