Update #64 - K-Pop IPO, More Indian Bans, and Bilibili Content


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We update you on the most essential news from Asia in tech, media, and business—the things you need to know that you probably haven’t heard in Western media.

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K-pop’s Big Hit Entertainment Plans an IPO 🎤

  • Big Hit Entertainment is one of the world’s largest K-pop agencies and this week they announced their intention to go public. Big Hit Entertainment plans to raise $812 Million in an IPO that would be the biggest Korean IPO of the last three years. Big Hit manages the absurdly popular K-pop group BTS, who has become one of the world’s most popular music groups and grossed $170 Million from live events in 2019, which made them the fifth largest live music act in the world.

  • BTS’s latest single ‘Dynamite’ just reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, which is the first time an Asian act has done this since 1963. K-pop’s popularity has increased massively over the last few years, which contributes to the growing wave of Korean influence in global pop culture. This Korean cultural wave also includes the major film success of Parasite and the growing popularity of K-drama. I’m super bullish on the continuing influence of Korean culture on the world stage. It’s all part of this increasing relevance of Asia that East West Hurricane was built to witness and document.

India Issues New Ban That Includes PUBG Mobile

  • On Wednesday, the Indian government announced a new list of 118 Chinese mobile apps that are now banned in the country. This comes after the government banned 59 apps just over a month ago, including TikTok. The big news from this round is that one of these apps is PUBG Mobile, which was one of the most popular games in India. For PUBG, India was their largest market with 175 Million downloads and 24% of their total downloads globally.

  • As per the previous group of banned Chinese apps, the Indian government is citing security reasons as the reason for the ban. First TikTok, and now PUBG? Brendan Ahern, who writes the newsletter China Last Night, described it best when he called this situation an “Indian Teenagers’ Worst Nightmare.” The Global Times, a Chinese publication, has described the move essentially as a way for the Indian Prime Minister to deflect away from domestic failures, especially related to Covid. Whatever the truth behind the decision, it seems like we could start seeing more regional technology - where legislation makes internet services like social media and gaming different on a country by country basis.

Bilibili’s New Content Acquisition 🎥

  • Bilibili is kind of like ‘the Youtube of China,’ with over 170 Million users and a particular focus on ACG, which stands for Anime, Comics, and Gaming. As the platform grows, their strategy is increasingly to expand outside of the initial ACG niche. On Monday, Bilibili announced a $66 Million strategic investment in Huanxi Media, one of China’s largest media production companies. This gives Bilibili exclusive broadcasting rights to a large part of Huanxi’s TV and Film productions. The two companies also agreed on other partnership revenue opportunities like joint merchandise, film production, and shared ad revenue.

  • A Western equivalent of this would be like Youtube investing into a major film studio like Paramount Pictures in order to have exclusive rights to broadcast their content on Youtube. As I’ve written about previously, Bilibili is an interesting company that has made tons of progress recently, including a listing on the Nasdaq in 2018 and continued growth over the last two years. They also received a $400 Million investment from Sony in May. Keep your eye on Bilibili, because another priority for them is international expansion.