JOYME's CEO Yuki He Discusses LiveMe, Award-Winning Entertainment App on Galaxy Store
Sr. Marketing Manager
Jeanne Hsu, Senior Marketing Manager for Developer Relations at Samsung, chatted with Yuki He, Chairperson, CEO and founder of JOYME.
Jeanne Hsu (JH): Yuki, what was your professional journey that led you to JOYME?
Yuki He (YH): I entered the Internet industry in 2003 and joined Tencent in product management when they started their product team. I was doing entertainment and social apps like QQ and QQ pets. I enjoyed working in this industry and developed a more profound interest in social products.
Later on in 2013, I started working on overseas products, got familiar with the global Internet market, and was responsible for a utility product. At that time, Samsung also partnered with us to include our product. I also got a chance to visit Samsung's South Korean headquarters to discuss other partnership matters.
In 2015, I participated in the entrepreneurial process of musical.ly (later became TikTok) as a director. I saw a promising future of combining live video and social interaction. I wanted to use both to connect people virtually and in real time no matter where they were located. I saw the vast opportunities in the U.S. market, so I left and decided to build my own company, JOYME.
JH: Where is JOYME located?
YH: JOYME is in various regions including the Los Angeles (U.S.), Singapore, Brazil, and the Middle East.
JH: How many employees work at JOYME?
YH: We have 500 people total including 300 employees and 200 contractors.
JH: How did the relationship with Samsung first start?
YH: We published LiveMe in Galaxy Store in 2020. We already had a relationship with Samsung from my previous work. So this was a natural extension of the partnership.
JH: Best of Galaxy Store Award – 2021 Best Entertainment App for JOYME's LiveMe app. What does it mean to win this award?
YH: We take this award very seriously and especially thank Samsung for the recognition. Samsung has many users and is one of the largest store platforms in the world. Samsung is a world-renowned company, with a prominent brand name. Winning this award also gives us great motivation to continue creating even better products for Samsung users.
JH: In what ways have you promoted winning the award?
YH: We have promoted this fantastic news through the media agency and received positive market feedback. We plan to promote the award-winning news through international media, LiveMe's social media, and the official website. We believe the recognition from Samsung is going to boost our branding and let more Samsung users get to know more about us.
Winning the award gives us great motivation to continue doing what we do best: give our users and the entertainment community the best service.
JH: What have you noticed about mobile trends and LiveMe?
YH: The mobile phone camera has changed people's lives when they interact with their phones. You can be anywhere in the world to connect online with people, show your talent, expand your circle of friends, and share parts of your life. Bringing the community closer together is the original concept of LiveMe. I felt the video and interactive components were important. People can go online with LiveMe and feel happier.
JH: Are there any unique aspects or optimizations to the Galaxy Store version of LiveMe?
YH: We integrated the payment channel SDK with the Samsung IAP (In-App Purchase) SDK. Our base operation is Android. Galaxy Store is very good for the developer so we don't have to do different versions. It saves a lot of time and resources. In the future, we hope to have deeper integration with Samsung.
JH: How did you come up with the concept for LiveMe?
YH: In 2015, livestream video was not as popular as it is now; people took pics. But the camera performance on mobile phones was becoming more sophisticated and advanced. I found that many users gradually developed taking videos on their mobile phones. Video is a richer content carrier than still images or plain text. I could see the future of information transmission trends.
Then video transmission changed; it was faster and people could send full rich videos instead of choppy/frozen bits of pixels. Now instead of just watching a video, people could interact with live video streams. Users could respond with comments or emojis in real time.
The live-stream video experience further enhanced the connection between people. For example, people can stay at home and make friends all over the world. They use this platform to show off their talents. Having this vision of connecting the world was the original idea that inspired me to develop LiveMe.
Broadcasters and Business Model
JH: I noticed on Facebook that LiveMe's tagline reads: “create content, meet friends, and make money.” Tell me more about LiveMe and the business model. How do the broadcasters make money?
YH: Broadcasters earn money by presenting engaging content in their livestream channel. They can build up a global fan base. Then viewers can send virtual gifts to show their appreciation. They also encourage people to subscribe to their channel. For example, out of 100K people that enter a broadcaster's room, 20% could give them gifts like flower animations and virtual diamonds. The more gifts they receive from their fans, the better. It shows a very active community.
Some broadcasters see this as a hobby, but some make it their professional career. We're not talking about famous celebrities who have their own channels but rather the Uber driver, bar singer or amateur dancer. They can use LiveMe as an entertainment channel and make money doing it as a living. We help 300,000 broadcasters earn money in the U.S. Globally we have a million broadcasters that are making good money via LiveMe. It's a very powerful story.
Not only do they receive gifts from their fans, but they also get benefits from LiveMe. We also give the broadcasters gifts depending on the volume and activity of their fan base. It helps incent broadcasters to generate new content.
Every month, we give several millions of U.S. dollars to the broadcasters. What's more, we have an ongoing plan with a $60 million investment to support our broadcasters and creators. We're able to offer jobs to people all over: in the U.S., Brazil, Japan, and the Middle East, just to mention a few.
JH: What a strong message. “We believe in you, and are willing to pay you for your creativity attracting a large fan base.” It's an intriguing business model. What else are broadcasters doing to increase their audience?
YH: We have talented broadcasters who create content and make friends by livestreaming. They can interact with viewers. Fans can also beam in to the “room”, do challenges and play mini games with the broadcasters. There can be up to nine people in a livestreaming room. YouTube cannot do that. Fans then become part of the action with other community members. And there are more people who are commenting, giving gifts, and cheering these people on.
Having this very interactive community lends itself to many creative ideas. We can combine games with the livestreaming: In soccer, the broadcaster guards the goalpost and another person kicks the ball, in real-time. People can play casual games together. Then the community interacts as they play games, dance or sing. It's very entertaining!
App Ideas, Discoverability and Reach
JH: How many apps has JOYME published, and how many are on Galaxy Store?
YH: LiveMe and PhotoGrid are the two main apps of JOYME. LiveMe is a live video social app and PhotoGrid is a video and photo editing app. Both LiveMe and PhotoGrid are on Galaxy store.
JH: Where do you get your app ideas?
YH: User feedback is important to us. They give us ideas and inspiration. We learn from other apps (funny and creative ideas from games and apps). We'll also run campaigns to celebrate special events like our 6th birthday this past April; fans sent us video birthday cards. We do marketing research to see if there is new technology we could use. For example, new technologies like virtual character AI improves the user creative experience in our apps.
JH: What is the work flow when designing, developing and publishing an app?
YH: There are six steps for our app development and publishing.
- First, we need to list out the product project needs. It is necessary to determine the project's overall plan, the timeline, the general framework, the main functions, and the core belief of the app. What are the needs of target users? What kind of value can this app create for the user?
- Once the app has its primary functions defined, we research to understand potential competitors and competitive environment. For example, is it a saturated market or a competitive market?
- Next is the realization of the app function by designing the first draft of UI and UX. After multiple meetings and rendering, we will have the final interface design ready.
- The product will then enter the research and development stage. While forming the app with programming, we prepare everything in the app store account for release.
- The next step is to test the app. We test the app thoroughly before release by having internal test users test the first version and extract user feedback to improve and optimize the user experience.
- Finally, it is time to publish the app. We'll use the app store account to release and publish the tested app, and leave three to five days to fix any bugs after the app is released.
JH: With all the competition for apps, what has been your strategy for discoverability?
YH: We buy ads traditionally from Google and Meta, etc. Every app developer does that. But we have a community of broadcasters who can promote our apps as well. They will share their live-steaming with their fans by cross-promoting from other channels they've cultivated.
We can see that more people are making friends and enjoying the interaction with the broadcasters. Friends are telling others about broadcasters that appeal to them. There's nothing more compelling than the “tell a friend” concept.
We do some PR and marketing events. Before Covid, we used to do live in-person promotions with iHeartRadio; one was for the event Music House. We hosted parties in LA and San Francisco with broadcasters, asking them to invite their friends to join in. We found that people share their experiences on social media. It was a fun way to promote the LiveMe app to their friends.
Now we hold other online events, building on our platform, so people worldwide can participate.
JH: What has been your strategy for generating revenue?
YH: LiveMe generates revenue by IAP (In-App Purchases) for virtual gifts to support favorite broadcasters or participate in in-app events. To encourage users to be more engaged, we create monthly competitions with different themes, holidays, and unique virtual 3D animation gifts to best express users' distinct support styles.
JH: In the last five years, LiveMe is in 85 countries. How do you attribute your growth and expansion?
YH: LiveMe started with multiple tests and trials in a few countries to build a solid foundation. In the early stages, it is necessary to confirm if the product provides valuable services for users that reflect the actual demand in a pilot before launching a large-scale expansion. The Internet industry is getting so competitive that users' needs and requirements change every second. It is truly a great challenge for our developers. Our fundamental strategy is making good products and services that genuinely exceed user expectations. JOYME has also been exploring and improving under the same principle.
JH: What is in the future for JOYME / LiveMe?
YH: Our mission is to "connect the world and spread happiness." JOYME will continue to devote itself to creating exciting pan-entertainment products. In the future, we will also develop immersive meta-universe experience products. Everyone is facing different obstacles in life under the influence of the pandemic, so I hope JOYME can create products that give more companionship, happiness, and love to bring our global users together.
Feedback and Advice
JH: What advice would you give developers looking to bring their apps to Galaxy Store?
YH: For specifics about Galaxy Store, I recommend the following:
- Become familiar with the policy for Galaxy Store. If developers ignore this, their apps will soon be off-line.
- Understand how to control the risk of payments. Different platforms have varying risks.
- Get good feedback from users and cooperate with Samsung. We do activities together with Samsung and benefit from their promotions.
- Incent Galaxy Store users. We give gifts to Galaxy Store users, such as free coins to buy gifts to send to broadcasters. It encourages users to buy more coins and engage with LiveMe.
JH: Why is it important to offer your app on Galaxy Store?
YH: Our main market is the U.S. and Samsung has a major presence there.
JH: Where is LiveMe on Galaxy Store?
JH: What are some of the ways you promote LiveMe?
YH: Here are our websites and channels:
- Website - https://www.liveme.com/
- Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/streamliveme/
- Twitter - https://twitter.com/streamliveme (@streamLivem)
- YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/c/LiveMeofficial/featured
- Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/streamliveme/
- LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/livemeinc
Diversity and Inclusion
JH: What is JOYME doing related to diversity and inclusion?
YH: JOYME supports multiple languages and is available in many countries, so focusing on content localization based on local culture, trends, and holidays is essential. We are committed to meeting the needs of our diverse users and respecting different cultures and religions. Our goal is to create a supportive community that includes all races, religions, and cultures to connect users in the various regions.
Our management team is 40% to 50% women; some of them have been with me for more than five years, building a good relationship with each other. We also have offices in eight countries with different nationalities and cultures, all working together.
JH: I understand you were involved in the Women's Entrepreneurship Day (WED) Summit. Tell us more about that.
YH: Yes, thanks for asking. This international annual WED Summit empowers women and girls worldwide to alleviate poverty their communities. I spoke to encourage them to become active participants in the economy by becoming leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs. It gave me an opportunity to share my story with young women from all over the world and highlight how LiveMe is empowering women to share their talents and follow their passions.
JH: What do you do for fun outside of work?
YH: I enjoy playing different sports and fitness; I am also into singing. I was the singer of the official theme song "Song of Tencent" for Tencent. I participated in many singing competitions during my college years and was pretty good at it. If I didn't become a product manager in the Internet industry, I would probably have become a singer.
In fact, that was one reason I launched LiveMe. I started out as a broadcaster and gained a lot of fans by singing and dancing. Everyone has the opportunity to grow their channel.
Nobody knew I was the CEO of the company. Once they found out, they said “I knew Yuki before as a broadcaster.” Now, I leave the broadcasting to the other talent.
JH: It's great you started as a broadcaster. So you know firsthand how to showcase your singing and dancing talents. Kudos to you! Thank you so much for this interview Yuki.
YH: You're very welcome. I am happy to chat with you.
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