New Life for Live-Streaming: M17 Entertainment Scores US$26.5M Series D

M17 Entertainment

Latest financing to spur continued growth in Japan, and expansion to U.S. and Middle East

Taiwan-based live-streaming startup M17 Entertainment Limited, announced yesterday that it has secured US$26.5 million in a Series D funding round led by Vertex Growth Fund, with participation from Stonebridge Korea Unicorn Venture Fund, InnoVen Capital Singapore, Kaga Electronics Co., Ltd, and ASE Global Group in New York.

The latest funding will bolster M17’s continued growth in Japan as well as its expansion to the U.S. and other key new markets such as the Middle East, with the aim of securing a substantial amount of new users and artists, the company said.

Founded in 2015, M17 is a live streaming app and social networking platform which claims to have over 40 million global users who produce 300,000 hours of content every month.

M17 Entertainment says that it is the number one live streaming platform in developed Asian markets including Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea. It claims to have over 60% market share by revenue in both Japan and Taiwan.

In June 2018, M17 dramatically ditched a planned public listing due to lack of interest. Through the IPO, the company had originally planned to raise $115 million, but the expectation was lowered to $60 million, and eventually the IPO was aborted in full.

M17 bagged an investment of $35 million from existing investors two weeks after the botched IPO, followed by a $25 million capital infusion in December 2018, in a round led by Terry Tsang, the CEO of Hong Kong-based games company Madhead.

The startup claims to have become profitable in 2019, with 70% year-on-year growth, and was on track in August 2019 to achieve projected annual revenue of approximately $323 million, and projected annual live and social-commerce GMV of $323 million, according to a statement released by the company.

M17 has seen a record high of artists and user onboardings, as well as user interaction in the past few months, according to the company statement.

CEO Joseph Phua said in the statement, “M17 provides a virtual stage for performers to explore what is possible both artistically and financially, by allowing them to showcase their talent and interact directly with fans everywhere in real-time. This new funding allows us to continue our mission of empowering artists around the world, through our online live streaming and social commerce platforms.”

According to Frost and Sullivan, the pure-play live video streaming market in developed markets in Asia is expected to grow to $3.3 billion by 2022, and Japan is expected to be the largest market with a market size of $1.1 billion.

“We are impressed by M17’s market leading position and continued strong growth in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. With M17’s unique value proposition and battle-hardened management team, the company is well prepared for its next phase of growth,” said Vertex Ventures Managing Director Tam Hock Chuan.

With consumer preferences shifting to individualized on-demand viewing online, M17 is capitalizing on the need for a robust, financially viable platform for artists, the statement said.

“M17 is a beneficiary from the accelerating shift towards building a digital economy,” added Jeff Chang, Managing Director of Vertex Growth.

“Even at their level of scale, M17 is showing astonishing rate of growth,” said Stonebridge Ventures Managing Director Fortune Sohn.

“At a time where startups may be facing fundraising challenges, we are heartened by the confidence that our investors, led by Vertex Growth, have in M17’s capabilities and strong growth potential. We will continue to leverage technology and deliver the best social interaction solutions to our artists and superior online entertainment to our audiences right in their own homes,” said  Phua.

Top: Joseph Phua, CEO, M17 Group

Header Image Courtesy of M17 Entertainment

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