China’s live streamer YY expects its video conference app IMO to grow into a super app

With 221.8 million monthly active users IMO makes up for more than half of YY’s user base.

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China’s live streamer YY expects its video conference app IMO to grow into a super app

YY is in China mostly known as a live streaming site, but it’s diversifying after fully acquiring the Singapore-headquartered Bigo in March.

YY’s success is largely found overseas: In its first-quarter financial report, YY said it had over 400 million mobile monthly active users  (MAU) in the first quarter of 2019, 75% of which were based outside of China.

Further breaking down the data, YY said that mobile MAUs of its video conference app IMO, which is operated by Bigo, reached 221.8 million, accounting for more than half of YY’s user base.

“By offering frictionless video call and other communication tools, IMO has attracted a highly engaged and video-oriented user base in the Middle East, South Asia, and other global regions,” said Li Xueling, founder and CEO of YY.

He later told analysts on the company’s earnings call that IMO’s video communication services were used over 55 million times per day on average and each user’s daily average usage time was about 40 minutes in the first quarter of 2019.

He added that the next step is to bring more features including short-video and live streaming into IMO to enable it to evolve into a super app.

Li said that monetization on IMO has also started, such as through advertising. Currently, YY still gets most of its revenue from live streaming.

Its live streaming revenues increased by 47.9% year-on-year to RMB 4.5 billion (USD 661.7 million) in the first quarter, accounting for 94% of its entire revenue.

The company’s net income also increased by 223.9% year-on-year in the first quarter to RMB 3.1 billion (USD 460.4 million), mainly due to the remeasurement gain of YY’s previously held interests in Bigo.

YY’s non-GAAP net income, which is an alternative profitability-measuring indicator that excludes one-off items such as investment gains or losses, decreased to RMB 653.5 million (USD 96.4 million) from RMB 730 million in the first quarter of 2018.

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