KRASIA - Sep 4 - After a botched IPO, M17 is carving out its niche as a B2B live streaming platform. By revenue, BIGO is the biggest live streaming platform in Southeast Asia, followed by VivaVideo, also a China-owned app, and MLive, an Australian-owned app. The fourth is 17, owned by Hong Kong- and Taiwan-based M17 Group. M17 is linked to Southeast Asia because it's the result of a merger between Singaporean dating app Paktor and 17's predecessor.
Q: You started out building a dating app in Singapore. How did you end up as the CEO of a live streaming company based out of Taiwan?
Joseph Phua (JP): When I was single and started using Tinder I wanted to bring the app to Southeast Asia. That's when we built Paktor in 2013. I met my current business partner Jeffrey Huang, in 2014. We were competitors at that time, but in 2015 he stopped working on the dating app and started live streaming. At some point he was going through operational difficulties. One of the investors backed out after signing a binding agreement. I stepped in and we decided to merge 17 and Paktor, and I took over as CEO. M17 and Paktor still operate as standalone apps.
Q: What's the difference between BIGO and M17?
JP: We target mature markets. Our competitors are targeting developing markets with low ARPU so they need a big user base.
Q: You took a hit with the last minute cancellation of the IPO. What happened, and what are your new plans?
JP: We decided to withdraw and now we are looking towards building the business. We expect to make $300M in revenue this year, we're profitable. We have 50M registered users.
Q: Where's live streaming headed next?
JP: You cannot escape live streaming. Online dating was a taboo just a few years ago, now it's normal. Same with live streaming. It's already mainstream and all around us. We're already working with major media corporations.