How do you create a ¥1.5 trillion company in an industry that gives its primary product away?

Line Corp. did it by getting smartphone users to pay for teddy bear icons and games with cute cookies and wicked witches.

The Tokyo-based messaging application has grown to more than 370 million subscribers since its creation in 2011, when South Korean parent Naver Corp. saw a need for Internet-based communications after the Tohoku earthquake crippled Japan's phone networks.