Japan first "unicorn" start-up, Mercari, goes public
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Since Line Corp.'s in 2016, Mercari's IPO hits an all-time high for a technology company in Japan
Maybe there are some terms to explain before going in the depth of the subject.
First, let's talk about the "Unicorn start-up" or "Unicorn Club". The term has been created by seed-investor Aileen Lee in her 2013 TechCrunch article "Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning from Billion-Dollar Startups".
It refers to privately held start-ups, usually in the software and technology industry, valuated over $1 billion and founded after 2003. While China and the USA have plenty of well-known Unicorns such as Uber, SpaceX, WeBank or Toutiao, Japan progresses at its own pace.
Mercari, founded in 2013, is a used products marketplace smartphone application. It expanded to the US market a year later and, in 2016, entered in Europe through the UK. The same year, Mercari became the first startup to reach a valuation of $ 1 billion and thus entered in the Unicorn Club.
At the end of 2017, the application had been downloaded more than a 100 million times and counted 10 million customers monthly.
Planning to sell 43.5 million shares at ¥3,000 a piece, Mercari Inc. expects to raise ¥130.5 billion ($ 1.2 billion) in initial public offering (IPO). The stock will be trading in Tokyo from June 19.
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