"Our business is still the first station"-Lancers Akiyoshi talks about his feelings for listing

サ ー Lancers, which operates a freelance platform business, listed on the TSE [Tokyo Stock Exchange] Mothers on December 16, 2019. The same day is the eleventh year since the service was launched on December 16, 2008, and is the "freelance day" defined by the Japan Memorial Day Association. We asked Lancers President and CEO Yosuke Akiyoshi about his impression of the listing and future developments, as well as the reason that he said, "The management is uncertain, but the muscles will not betray."

Yosuke Akiyoshi, Lancers President and CEO

Yosuke Akiyoshi, Lancers President and CEO

The point is to approach quality that can be used by large companies

——It was listed at the same time as the service launch date. Please tell us why you selected December 16, 2019 as a listing date.

は It was a coincidence that the company was listed on the service start date. The timing of December 2019 was planned, but the date was not decided. This timing was largely due to the government's work style reform and the increase in the number of companies listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange that lifted the ban on side jobs. Three to four years ago, it was around 20%, but in 2019, it has exceeded 50%. There is also a tailwind where liquidity increases, as freelancers become full-time employees and vice versa.

Of course, one of the reasons for listing is that we wanted to raise funds again. I don't know what the answer is, but it's often said, "Is it a VC [venture capitalist]?", But it wasn't nearing the maturity of the fund, and it was listed only for our convenience.

——How do you see the benefits of listing? There are also disadvantages, such as information disclosure responsibility. Please tell us your thoughts around this.

Our service is "social infrastructure" from the user's point of view. We believe that if this platform grows soundly and becomes public, and that internal control, compliance, and governance are firmly built in the process, the value provided to mid- to long-term users will be maximized. Also, raising funds for unlisted companies is really hard. Certainly it has become easier than in the past, but the diversity of funding differs greatly between listed and unlisted companies.

Our business is still at the first station, so we need more money in the future. Diversification of financing and improvement of reliability are important items. It is still about five days after the listing [the interview was conducted on December 20], but the content of inquiries and the number of candidates for hiring have also changed significantly. Maybe it's getting attention right after the listing.

Of course there are disadvantages. It will be almost completely naked from the state where all information is not disclosed. As more and more shareholders become shareholders, we must fulfill our accountability. In addition to holding IR and quarterly briefings, J-SOX [Internal Control Reporting System] is required to maintain listing. It costs more than disadvantages. In the company, the era of about 5 to 10 employees was easy, but it was necessary to monitor and balance to expand to this scale and to become a listed company that does not conflict with compliance. The speed must be reduced accordingly.

——When startups go public, some companies are ridiculed as “listing goals,” but what are your thoughts on this?

We are a generation that has seen people who say that it is a listing goal. I don't know if it's the right expression, but on the other hand it's a big part of being a teacher. I don't think that recently listed startups have listed listing as their goal. Certainly, in the past, there may have been customs that thought that “listing = goal”.

The rest is information. Since the advantages and disadvantages of listing come around, know-how such as preparing in advance is distributed. Rather than knowing for the first time as a listed company, it is much closer to entrepreneurs of the same age who were listed when they were not listed. I guess, 20 years ago, the listed company's president wasn't around the entrepreneurs, and came across troubles during and after the listing, which led to better business performance and inadequate control. The flow may have been born.

——If you look at the startups that went public in December 2019, you're the only one who has created the Internet industry in the 2010s. I personally feel the fate there. Looking back on the IT market in the 2010s, do you have any episodes with startup companies?

前後 Around 2010, the game market was very exciting. I think there are five companies [Medley, Freee, Space Market, MacAque, Lancers] who have been facing social issues from there. For example, the space market and our company are sharing economies, and the crowdfunding of Makake is a socially new service. None of them are plain and flashy, but the generation has changed, the business has changed, and the listing of social companies has increased.

Coincidentally, the other four [Kohei Takiguchi, President of Medley, Daisuke Sasaki, President of Freee, Daisuke Shigematsu, CEO of Space Market, and Ryotaro Nakayama, President of Makake] , Five guys go to the sauna. I also go to a distant hotel.

Mr. Shigematsu and I created a regional revitalization group, and around 2016 I went to rural areas. Since Sasaki is the same age, I went to Osaka to eat kushikatsu. I'm glad that all of them are listed entrepreneurs. On the other hand, I am an ordinary person, so I am deeply impressed that I work hard, and I think that even younger people will work harder.

——I think Lancers is one of the leading companies in Japan that has created a crowdsourcing market that did not exist before. How has your social position changed from its inception to the present? Please let us know if you have any issues.

We started a business in 2008, but at the time there was no culture of ordering work over the Internet, and of course there was no culture of ordering work without meeting the ordering partner. The first three years were really hard. The client said, "It's suspicious," and the worker said, "I'm afraid to work for people who don't see my face." After the Great East Japan Earthquake, work styles began to attract attention, and services similar to ours began to appear little by little. A culture has emerged in which startups place orders for freelance platforms.

Even now, awareness is low, and when you go to an established company other than the IT industry, you are often told, "Lancers? What's that? Baseball team?" It is an honest impression that it is still. I have participated in the Keizai Doyukai, but since our members are mostly large companies, I think our recognition is about 10%.

Although there are no issues such as regulations that affect the country, it is important that we approach the level of quality that can be used by large companies. I feel a tailwind, but I think it will grow slowly. I hope you can recall Lancers at that time when you change jobs tomorrow.

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