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Korea MCN startup Treasure Hunter aims for leading K-content maker

Seeks IPO to produce more content, expand businesses into new growth sectors such as metaverse

By Nov 02, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Treasure Hunter founder and CEO Song Jae-yong
Treasure Hunter founder and CEO Song Jae-yong

Song Jae-yong, a leader of the new business taskforce team at South Korea’s CJ ENM Co. went to New York in 2013 to have business meetings for the multi-channel network (MCN) business. The entertainment powerhouse considered the business as the growing importance of YouTubers required the sector that serves as their agencies and managers.

Those meetings convinced him to start the business. “A story was drawn in my head like a novel about how far the MCN business will grow in Korea and how to develop it,” Song said.

Song, called as a guide of the Korean MCN industry, set up DIA TV, South Korea’s first MCN firm, at CJ ENM. But he left the entertainment company and established Treasure Hunter Co. in 2015 – the country’s first independent MCN company.

GROWING WITH CREATORS

Treasure Hunter aims to develop and nurture creators, CEO Song told The Korea Economic Daily in an interview on Nov. 2. The startup joins hands with creators with great potential and jointly cultivates channels rather than supporting famous creators with money from major companies, Song stressed.

Song said the company’s name reflects its goal. “We named the company Treasure Hunter. Like a hunter who explorer treasures, we will find talented and capable creators and grow together,” Song said. “The number of our channels is smaller than other ones of other MCN firms, but all of them have great potential,” added the head of the startup that is cooperating with about 330 creators.

Treasure Hunter provides customized solutions to meet creators’ requests and inclination with four types of services such as a simple one only for editing and management, as well as a comprehensive one including brainstorming and production consulting. That helped creators’ growth increase the company’s sales.

“We present customized strategies for creators with dedicated personnel and create content together,” Song said. “Thanks to this growth and development strategy, some moved to us from other MCN companies and many creators have been with us for a long time.”

ASMR Suna, who signed a contract with Treasure Hunter in 2017, developed her YouTube channel to the one with 1.8 million subscribers through the startup’s content planning and production consulting. General SSO ramped up the number of subscribers to 610,000 from 10,000, helped by dedicated planning and production support after a deal with the company in January 2020.
ASMR Suna
ASMR Suna

The startup is working with YouTubers with subscribers of more than 1 million including Yang Soobin, Kkuk TV and Kgxhwang TV, as well as celebrities such as UFC fighter Dong Hyun Kim and a cartoonist Kian84.

EXPANDING PROFIT MODELS

South Korea’s MCN industry has limitless growth potential, Song said.

“The market is in a very early stage as various channels such as YouTube, TikTok and Facebook emerged. Given the industry’s nature where communication is essential, it will be able to expand to live commerce, private brand (PB) products and VR creators,” he said.

Treasure Hunter started a live commerce business in March 2020 for the first time in the domestic MCN sector. It holds live-streaming more than three times a week at key e-commerce platforms such as Naver Corp.

The startup also has three PB products such as foods and cosmetics. Such expansion helped raise its revenue to 20.3 billion won ($17.3 million) from 12 billion won in 2018.

TO BECOME LEADING K-CONTENT PRODUCER

Korea MCN startup Treasure Hunter aims for leading K-content maker
Song plans to list the company in order to produce more content and increase profit models. Treasure Hunter is scheduled to apply for a preliminary review for a listing on the junior Kosdaq to the Korea Exchange later this month. That would be the first listing in the country’s MCN industry. Daishin Securities is an underwriter.

“We aim for a production-based community platform and create various profit models with the proceedings from the listing,” Song said.

Its goal to become a leading K-content company after the planned initial public offering. Treasure Hunter plans to focus more on producing its own content.

“We want to produce various contents such as web dramas that we could not make because of costs,” Song said. “We also consider providing multilingual translation solutions for creators.”

Treasure Hunter also plans to actively invest in new businesses such as metaverse, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), virtual creator, blockchain and artificial intelligence. Considering its expansion to the metaverse sector, the company in September signed a memorandum of understanding with a metaverse proptech startup Olim Planet.

“Metaverse is a new start just as a new trend of new media began through SNS and YouTube,” Song said. “Treasure Hunter will take the lead in this field which will be specialized in the future.”

Write to A-Young Yoon at youngmoney@hankyung.com

Jongwoo Cheon edited this article.

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