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Line messenger scores biggest tech IPO of 2016

The Japanese company, whose messenger app is hugely popular in the Far East, is the fifth tech company to go public this year.

Naver Corporation

Line is one of the world's biggest instant messenger apps -- even if you've never heard of it. And on Thursday, the Japanese company scored tech's biggest initial public offering of 2016.

Line raised roughly $1.25 billion in its IPO, CNBC reports, and debuted on the New York Stock Exchange at $42 per share, offering 22 million shares there and 13 million on Tokyo's stock exchange. Shares soared afterwards, reaching a high of $44.49, giving the company a $9.3 billion valuation. Stocks closed at $26.61, however.

For comparison, Facebook's stocks closed at $38.23 after its first day on the stock market, while Twitter's post-IPO valuation was $31 billion. Line, which is more like WhatsApp than Facebook or Twitter, makes most of its money by selling stickers and games.

The app was created by NHN Japan, a Japanese subsidiary of South Korean internet giant Naver, in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. NHN Japan's employees developed Line to communicate with each other following the ravaging of the country's telecommunications infrastructure.

The app was released to the public later that year and, as of last August, it has been downloaded by over 600 million people. Its active monthly user base is estimated to be around 220 million. It's only the fifth tech company to IPO this year, and by far the biggest.