The New Z Holdings: Two Internet Giants in Asia Unite to Become a World-leading AI Tech Company

The New Z Holdings: Two Internet Giants in Asia Unite to Become a World-leading AI Tech Company

Z Holdings Corporation, the owner of Yahoo Japan Corporation, successfully merged with LINE Corporation on March 1, 2021. At a press conference and briefing for investors to mark the integration, the two Co-CEOs, Kentaro Kawabe and Takeshi Idezawa, who also serves as CEO of LINE, pledged to use the power of the Internet to solve users’ problems and make daily life more convenient.

The long-awaited event came after both first announced plans to unite the companies in November 2019. Under the new structure, A Holdings Corporation—a joint venture between SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) and Korea’s NAVER Corporation—owns a 65.3% stake of the new Z Holdings.

The new Z Holdings Group structure

The new Z Holdings Group structure

Former rivals to create new value together

Kawabe and Idezawa wore neckties in red and green, the respective corporate colors of Z Holdings’ flagship companies: Yahoo Japan and LINE. Kawabe began by saying, “Today, we completed our business integration with LINE, our former rival. As the new Z Holdings, we’ll take up the challenge of creating new value together.”

The new Z Holdings group has a combined 300 million users, 15 million corporate clients and 3,000 collaborative projects with local governments in Japan. Of the 300 million users, LINE has 167 million in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. The company also has 23,000 employees across group companies.

The New Z Holdings: Two Internet Giants in Asia Unite to Become a World-leading AI Tech Company

Idezawa commented, "With Yahoo Japan, LINE and our other companies, we’ll deliver the best possible experiences to our users and work to solve social issues. This business integration is about what’s best for our customers.”

Kawabe went into more detail. "People sometimes go out shopping just to find that the item they want is not in stock. Wouldn’t it be better if they knew the inventory in advance? And sometimes people want to go to the hospital, but they’re too busy to pay a visit. Wouldn't it be more convenient if they could get examined when they have some spare time at home?” He continued, “People continue to face many issues like these. We’ll work to solve these problems and be a company that enjoys the overwhelming support of many people through our efforts.”

The New Z Holdings: Two Internet Giants in Asia Unite to Become a World-leading AI Tech Company

Yahoo Japan is No. 1 in Japan for total digital reach, and LINE is No. 1 in Japan for reach to active smartphone app users

Idezawa explained the business strategy. “We’ll become a corporate group with three ‘sources of actions’ that are indispensable in our daily lives: Information, Payment and Communication. And we’ll do this with more than 200 services.”

Idezawa outlined the new Z Holdings’ areas of focus. “We’ll continue to promote our core areas—Search/Web Portal, Advertising, and Messenger, which are centered on Yahoo Japan and LINE. We’ll also promote other core areas—Commerce, Local/Vertical, Fintech and Social Services, which are areas with major issues that can be addressed by the Internet. He added, “By applying our data and AI technologies, we’ll generate synergies to add convenience to the daily lives of our users, business activities, and all of society.”

Listening to people to become a leader in AI-driven problem solving

Both stressed that AI is indispensable for the development of next-generation services. They outlined plans to introduce AI to all services to create new value, invest 500 billion yen over the next five years to grow each business using AI as a key technology and to increase the number of AI-related engineers in Japan and overseas to 5,000.

With regard to expanding outside Japan, Idezawa said, "We’ll start with Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia, where we already have a large number of LINE service users. We’ll work to deploy successful Japan use cases overseas and look at successful examples abroad with a view to bringing them to the Japanese market. We’ll also take full advantage of the know-how and networks of our parent companies, SoftBank and NAVER.”

The New Z Holdings: Two Internet Giants in Asia Unite to Become a World-leading AI Tech Company

Introducing the management team of the new ZHD, both Co-CEOs said they will work to strengthen governance and increase corporate value. The company will target revenue of 2 trillion yen in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2024 (FY 2023) versus 1.28 trillion yen, a simple sum of the two companies’ revenue in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020 (FY 2019). While many challenges lie ahead, both stated their aspiration to change Japan from a country with “advanced-country issues” to a nation that can offer “advanced solutions.” To meet this challenge and learn more about the issues, Kawabe and Idezawa unveiled an online “suggestion box” that asks people what they would like to be able to do with IT.

Have a suggestion on how to create a better digital society?
Tell Z Holdings what you would like to see by using their suggestion box.

Click here to make a suggestion

In this video, learn how Z Holdings aims to use the power of data and AI to address social issues and create a world that is both convenient and exciting.

(Original article posted on March 2, 2021)
by SoftBank News Editors