M17 Group CEO Talks Asian Streaming Industry

Joseph Phua, CEO of Paktor’s parent M17 Entertainment, has given some thoughts on the APAC livestreaming industry in a new interview.

Speaking to KrASIA, Phua says he started Paktor in 2013 after spending time on Tinder in the USA. Bringing swipe-based dating back to Singapore brought him into competition with local player Jeffrey Huang, but Huang left dating shortly afterwards to focus on livestreaming with 17 Media.

17 Media then encountered difficulties after a committed investor pulled out, and Phua stepped in with an offer to merge.

M17 Entertainment was formed to hold the two brands. Despite a high-profile IPO attempt falling through, the combined company has progressed rapidly and is now considered one of the major streaming players in the region. In June last year, M17 secured $35 million in investment from existing backers.

Phua says the content on M17’s streaming property is unique, as they curate their creators and only work with stars who have a proven track record of managing an audience. While the platform may see less organic growth as a result, it is able to increase revenues elsewhere by offering SaaS white label streaming tech to thousands of local merchants.

On the general direction of the industry, the CEO said: “You cannot escape live streaming. I think we are on the cusp of finding out how many other use cases [for live streaming] there are.

“Things are changing fast and Southeast Asia is already catching up. 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.”

M17 expects $300 million in revenues this year, and claims 50 million registered users. According to Sensor Tower data, the 17 Media app ranks fourth for revenues in South East Asia. 

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