Online Train Timetable Service Ekitan Goes IPO

An online train timetable service that goes IPO? It may sound ludicrous to people living outside Japan, but Tokyo-based Ekitan is doing exactly that. The company will be listed at the Mothers Market (for high-growth and emerging stocks) of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on March 3 (code 3646).

Ekitan started as a Toshiba in-house venture project in April 1997 and started to operate independently in January 2003. The company has 69 employees and is 60.99% owned by Tokyo-based private equity fund Polaris Capital Group (Polaris bought out Ekitan in 2007).

Ekitan runs fixed web and mobile train timetables. For the mobile versions (available on Japanese feature phones and smartphones), the company reported 1,751,579 free and 851,657 paid users in March 2010 (the end of the last financial year). The web version is free to use.

At the end of the last financial year, Ekitan reported $29.6 million in sales and $6.1 million in operating profit, meaning we will probably see a rather small IPO.

Ekitan is competing with other services in the “train timetable space”, including Navitime, Jorudan and tons of other sites that offer similar functions. Jorudan went IPO in 2003 at the Hercules market for startups in Osaka.

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Serkan Toto

Dr. Serkan Toto is a German based in Tokyo. Like us, he is passionate about introducing Japanese IT to the rest of the world. Full-time, Serkan works as an independent web industry consultant for hedge funds, venture capital companies and start-ups worldwide. He is also a writer for mega tech blog network TechCrunch, covering Japan-related technology and web trends. This is Serkan's website. Follow Serkan on Twitter here.

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