Livesense May Raise Fees as Japanese Job Market ImprovesNaoko Fujimura and Grace Huang
Livesense Inc., the jobs portal led by the youngest president of a company on Japan’s top bourse, may raise fees for its information service as the nation’s labor market improves, sending its stock up the most in five months.
“The number of job openings is increasing, as money is starting to circulate” in the world’s third-largest economy, Taichi Murakami, Livesense’s president and founder, said in an interview in Tokyo. Japan’s jobless rate dropped to 4.2 percent in January from 4.3 percent in December in an indication that newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to boost the economy with anti-deflation policies may be paying off.
“We still have room to raise charges,” said Murakami. The 26-year-old owns a 54 percent stake in Livesense now worth more than $170 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Employers who hire staff through Livesense’s portal pay the company at least 10 percent of the worker’s annual salary as a fee, compared with about 30 percent for competing agencies, Murakami said.
Livesense, whose sales have quadrupled since 2009, is forecasting a 40 percent increase in net income this year as it adds clients. Employers pay fees only when they hire someone through ads on the website and Murakami is still considering how much to increase prices, he said.
Livesense rose 8.2 percent to 4,430 yen at the close of trade in Tokyo, the biggest gain since Oct. 22. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 2.4 percent.
The company, which first sold shares in the exchange’s Mothers section for startups in 2011 and moved to the main section in October, has seen its market value rise 34 percent this year after doubling in 2012.
“The economy is getting better, and that boosts demand for companies like Livesense,” Makoto Sengoku, a Tokyo-based market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Securities Co., said by phone. “Lowering the jobless rate is crucial to meet Abe’s plan to raise consumer prices.
The Tokyo-based company plans to boost its own staff numbers by hiring 60 people this year, including part-time workers, to increase its headcount to 160. The company may need to get more space near its headquarters that can accommodate 200 people, Murakami said.
The Nikkei 225 has jumped 19 percent this year, boosted by the yen’s decline to the weakest level since 2009 earlier this month. The currency’s slide improves Japan’s competitiveness versus its trading partners, a key goal of Abe’s administration.
Clients can put up ads for free on Livesense’s portal and pay fees when someone is hired through the service.
Livesense, whose client numbers more than doubled to 27,000 last year, is hiring engineers to improve web-marketing and develop new businesses. The company expects net income to rise to 834 million yen ($8.7 million) in 2013 from 597 million yen a year earlier. Sales may jump 46 percent to 3.3 billion yen, it said Feb. 14.
Livesense was founded in 2006 when Murakami was a 19-year-old student at Waseda University in Tokyo. He won a business-plan contest at the school and his prize included a free office inside Waseda’s new business incubation center for a year.
The unmarried Tokyo-born entrepreneur said he doesn’t own a refrigerator as he never cooks, and prefers to live within walking distance of his office. Murakami said his hobby is surfing the Internet.
Murakami said his goal is to transform Livesense in a way that emulates changes at Softbank Corp., whose billionaire founder Masayoshi Son built a software distributor into a mobile carrier. Softbank is now Japan’s fastest-growing cellular phone company.
Livesense’s reliance on the job-information business, which accounts for more than 80 percent of sales, may be reduced in the next five years as the company add new businesses, Murakami said.
Japan’s development of new players in the technology industry still lags behind peers in California, Murakami said.
‘‘In Japan, entrepreneurship finally finished the first lap when the Silicon Valley already completed two,” he said.