Livedoor Co.’s business is recovering after undergoing upheavals for about a year since the arrests of its founder, Takafumi Horie, and other former executives, current President Kozo Hiramatsu said.
“We have talented people, have no debts, have technologies, and the brand name of Livedoor has become known widely to the public,” Hiramatsu said in an interview. “What we are missing now is a reputation, or so to say trust from society.”
Hiramatsu said the future of the Internet startup, which will rename itself Livedoor Holdings Co. on April 2, will likely be promising as the volume of advertising on its portal site has returned to about 70 percent of the level it was prior to the executives’ arrests in January.
The number of frequent viewers of the Livedoor portal site has grown to 17 million, up from 14 million prior to the arrests, Hiramatsu, 60, said at the company’s head office in the Roppongi Hills skyscraper in Tokyo.
He said it will be imperative to secure nontext content, including movies and music, on its portal site to sharpen its competitiveness against Yahoo Japan Corp., Rakuten Inc. and other bigger rivals.
Hiramatsu said Livedoor may seek an alliance if it finds a company “strong in the field of pictures and sound.”
Besides its Internet-linked operations, Livedoor has money-making accounting software company Yayoi Co. and mail-order house Cecile Co., which he sees as having a great opportunity to grow by taking advantage of the parent company’s expertise in the Internet business.
“By pouring in Livedoor’s technology and knowhow, sales of Cecile via the Internet will be increased to 40 percent,” like other catalog companies, from the current 30 percent, he said.
Hiramatsu said a new business model could be created by combining the Yayoi accounting programs’ customers — about 600,000 small companies — the 3 million active users of Cecile services, mostly women in their 30s and 40s, and the frequent users of the Livedoor portal site, mostly men who are said to have high Internet literacy.
“I think I’m in a very lucky position as president,” said Hiramatsu, who landed in the post after Horie’s arrest. Prosecutors in Horie’s trial called last Friday for the 34-year-old to be imprisoned for four years for alleged securities law violations.
Hiramatsu said the company will move out of Roppongi Hills, which became a symbol of Japan’s new rich, to further trim costs.
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