Taiwan-based live streaming company 17LIVE Inc is exploring options for a public listing, three years after aborting its New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) share sale, according to several sources close to the firm.
17LIVE is understood to be weighing various options such as a traditional initial public offering (IPO) and a reverse merger via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Discussions are still at an early stage. The Taiwanese livestreaming app is also looking at various exchanges in Asia and the US to list, but is leaning towards bourses in North Asia, including Hong Kong and Japan, according to one source close to the firm.
A separate direct source told DealStreetAsia that 17LIVE is not in a rush to IPO, but has been considering a listing to allow its long-term investors to cash out. It counts Temasek-backed Vertex Ventures and Japanese venture firm Infinity Ventures among its shareholders.
17LIVE is already profitable, say sources. The Taiwanese entertainment app generated over $700 million in revenue and $150 million in profit last year, which means the firm can comfortably fetch a market valuation of $3-7 billion given its current growth trajectory, according to one source. The pandemic was also a massive boon to the firm, leading to a deluge of new online users and increased engagement on its platform.
In an interview with DealStreetAsia last year, 17LIVE chief executive officer Shang Koo had said that the firm was “well-situated for an IPO” anytime it wanted to since most of the groundwork was already done for its last IPO attempt on the NYSE back in 2018.
17LIVE, then known as M17 Entertainment, famously aborted its NYSE listing at the very last minute due to a combination of factors, including a weak book—forcing the firm to halve its IPO size to $60 million following poor response during its investor roadshow—and missteps involving its lead underwriters, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank.
The incident spiralled quickly into disappointment and a public display of rage, with 17LIVE co-founder Jeffrey Huang firing expletives at Citi and Deutsche in a Facebook post before hastily taking it down on the same day. It was the first time in NYSE’s nearly 230-year history that a company cancelled its listing on the same day it was supposed to begin trading.
It is not known if Citi and Deutsche have been re-selected as underwriters for 17LIVE’s upcoming listing.
17LIVE has since recovered from its listing fiasco to emerge as one of North Asia’s dominant live streaming platforms and has raised more capital from private investors. Its last fundraise was a $26.5 million Series D round in May 2020 led by Vertex Growth and joined by Stonebridge Korea Unicorn Venture Fund, InnoVen Capital, Kaga Electronics and ASE Global Group.
The livestreaming giant operates several interactive platforms today, including its flagship live entertainment streaming app 17LIVE (known as LIVIT in English markets), Meme Live and live streaming shopping platforms HandsUP and FBBuy.
In August 2020, M17 Entertainment sold its Paktor online dating business to focus on live streaming. It renamed itself as 17LIVE later the same year.
DealStreetAsia has reached out to 17LIVE for comment.