Livestreaming firm M17 appoints Infinity Venture Partners’ Hirofumi Ono as Global CEO

M17 Entertainment’s new Global CEO Hirofumi Ono
Image credit: M17 Entertainment

See the original story in Japanese.

17 Media Japan, the local operating company of mobile livestreaming app 17 Live or ‘Ichinana’ also known as Livit in the English-speaking countries, announced today that Hirofumi Ono was appointed as Global CEO of its parent company M17 Entertainment Limited (M17). Focused on the Japanese market, M17 will be continually responsible for service operations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, and other Asian countries. Former M17 CEO Joesph Phua will step down as CEO to become a non-executive chairman. Ono will also continue to serve 17 Media japan as its president.

The Japanese operations of the livestreaming app was launched back in 2017 by Ono who has been backing M17 as one of investors – Co-founder & Managing Partner of Infinity Venture Partners. The app now has become an outstanding platform where singers and entertainers perform their live shows. It has acquired 45 million registrants as of November of 2019.

Along with this, Ono announced that he will be stepping down from his role as managing director at Infinity Ventures in September. He was involved in launching the VC firm back in 2008 together with Akio Tanaka and Masashi Kobayashi.

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In addition to investing in ventures in Japan and the Greater China region, Ono has contributed to the growth of startups with his unique style of entrepreneurial involvement as a founding member of them. The startups he was involved in managing include Rekoo Japan (the company behind Sunshine Ranch), (Japanese classifieds site), Groupon Japan, Farfetch Japan, and of course 17 Media Japan. He has also made a significant impact on the startup ecosystem as an investor, hosting Infinity Ventures Summit (IVS), one of the largest venture conferences in Japan, for 12 years.

Below is his open letter on his Facebook timeline. (sic)

It is my pleasure to announce that I will be graduating from Infinity Ventures(IV), which I have led with Akio since 2008, this September.

And I will be taking on the role of Global CEO at M17 Entertainment, Ltd(M17). that is portfolio company of IV and is the parent company of 17 Media Japan where I have been acting as CEO over 3 years.

After launching 17 Media Japan from zero and leading its growth to No. 1 in Japan, there was a strong request from Joseph Phua, Co-Founder of M17 Global and Chairman, for me to take over the global CEO position, and after discussions with Akio and Joseph Huang internally in IV. I decided that the best way for me is to graduate from IV and commit to M17 as CEO so that I can contribute to those who helped me a lot during my time in IV by leading M17 to further growth stage.

In the 12 years since launching IV from scratch, I have had the great opportunity to not only invest but also run many companies on my own like Rekoo Japan (Sunshine Farm), Groupon Japan, Jimoty, Farfetch Japan, and 17 Media Japan. And fortunately most of them made great success to be leading companies in that industries and brought successful exit.

I am particularly pleased that Jimoty that I had built literally from scratch completely on my own went public this year.

I have also been able to get involved in some of the big exits for IVP’s fund, such as Soracom, freee and some of great investment like Wealth Navi and YeahKa (listed in HK and worth over 3billion USD now).

M17 is now expanding widely in Japan, Taiwan, India, HK, the US and the Middle East, and I will continue to grow the company so that we can expand our live streaming business even further around the world.

I am looking forward to a longer relationship with you as a serial entrepreneur.

As for IV, IVS President Toshiaki Shimakawa has successfully hosted more than 1,000 guests in the first online IVS, and the IV Japan team will continue to strengthen its operations with keeping investing in Japan and leading IVS.

Also, I will continue to contribute to IVS LaunchPad as an advisor to the development of our startups.

Sorry for that long message.

I would like to have opportunity to say hello to you individually if I could.


Translated by Masaru Ikeda