A vice president of Bigo Technology, who oversaw the company’s short-video app Likee, left in September, followed by Likee’s heads in the Middle East, North America, and East Europe, as the product’s path to monetization remains unclear, 36Kr reported on Friday.
Singapore-based Bigo, which is owned by Chinese online entertainment giant JOYY (NASDAQ: YY), targets viewers outside of China. It had 104 million monthly active users by September, JOYY’s Q3 earnings report showed. TikTok, the viral platform run by ByteDance, claims to have around 689 million global monthly active users. Bigo’s flagship products are livestreaming app Bigo Live, Likee, and social app Hago.
“The Likee team has been upgraded this year in a bid to further pursue the company’s globalization. The company will build a more professional, international, and localized team,” said Bigo when approached by 36Kr, adding that new leaders and talents took over the positions. JOYY is not satisfied with the performance of Likee, which caused the departure of VP Wei Wen, 36Kr reported, citing a person close to Wei.
Likee’s ability to monetize the product has been in doubt, while other segments are prospering. According to JOYY’s earnings report, the company’s net revenue increased by 36.1% year-on-year (YoY) to RMB 6.3 billion (USD 925.9 million) in the quarter, while returns from Bigo grew by 120.8% YoY to RMB 3.4 billion, “mostly driven by the uptick in its livestreaming revenues.” The livestreaming segment generated RMB 6 billion (USD 890.9 million) in this period, accounting for 96% of the company’s total revenue.
In November, short seller Muddy Waters accused Bigo and JOYY’s China-focused livestreming service YY of faking revenues and user data. Bigo is “substantially fraudulent,” the report said. Joyy responded that the assessment is full of ignorance about the livestreaming industry and ecosystem. “The report contains a large number of errors with unclear logic, confusing data, and hasty generalizations,” the company said.
ByteDance reportedly planned to acquire Joyy’s overseas businesses, including Bigo, what JOYY denies. A person familiar with the matter told 36Kr that Bigo is “the bosses’ lifetime business” and therefore a sellout impossible. “The sale of the domestic units Huya and YY Live was done to explore possibilities in the global market and start new initiatives in China,” the person said.
JOYY’s stock closed at USD 85 on Thursday, with a market capitalization of USD 6.88 billion.