Moi Corporation, the Tokyo-based startup behind Twitcasting, today announced a US$5 million series A funding round that will be used to increase the live-streaming platform’s presence outside of Japan. The investment was led by Indonesia’s Sinar Mas, marking the first time that a non-Japanese VC has invested in the company. Seed investor East Ventures1 also contributed.
Twitcasting, already the largest live-streaming community in Japan, hopes to grow its user-base in the US and Brazil specifically. At present, only 20 percent of users are outside of Asia – but the service is catching on in niche communities. Grammy Award-winning Brazilian singer Ivete Sangalo was an early adopter of Twitcasting, which initially launched in 2010. More recently, a group of citizen journalists who call themselves “Midia Ninja” have taken to the platform to broadcast World Cup protests across Brazil – gaining as many as 180,000 live viewers at once.
“16 percent of our users are from Brazil, so it is reasonable that we put more power there,” Moi Corporation CEO Yosuke Akamatsu told Tech in Asia. “We can also see growth in Mexico and some other South American countries, so we will use the US basecamp as a marketing hub for penetrating those non-English-speaking countries. Of course, we will start marketing in the US as well, as it is the biggest market – but a tough one to enter.”
The latest funding round follows the March release of Collabo, a Twitcasting feature that allows up to four users to broadcast simultaneously on a single mobile display. The service is available for PC and Mac, but 95 percent of users prefer mobile. The iOS and Android-supported apps are separated into two categories – “Live” for content broadcasters and “Viewer” for those who prefer to watch. Viewers can chat with broadcasters (and now even join them via Collabo) and even purchase virtual gifts for them.
Twitcasting received US$640,000 in seed funding from East Ventures in May 2013. In just over a year, its user-base has ballooned from 2.4 million users to 6.5 million, with 15,000 new signups each day. More than 80 percent of Twitcasting users are under 24 years old and the company claims that, as of late last year, Twitcasting is more popular with Japanese teens and university students than Facebook.