The Big Business of Teenager Media

2 Mins read

Poybo Media’s founder, Justin Jin, isn’t exactly a typical start-up CEO. For one, he’s still in high school. And his introduction to the media business wasn’t as an internet executive but as a Minecraft YouTuber. 

Once upon a time, brands such as Cosmopolitan, Maxim, and GQ pulled considerable weight among 16-to-30-year-olds, as well as those advertisers eager to reach the coveted demographic. But the rise of the Internet has seen the influence of those brands diminish. Millions of millennials now flock instead to a new breed of online destination packed with culture, sports, and viral content. Media has gone digital – and the older publishers have been left in the dust.

In 2020, Jin rose from a well-known gamer to a micro-celebrity. The downtime during the pandemic gave many virtual businesses a huge advantage over their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Isolated indoors, people turned to the one option they had – scrolling through social media. Jin’s Poybo Media, which now includes a variety of sites that have distinct social media pages, staff, and coverage areas, as well as a native advertising unit, tried to help people smile through the darker times. Brands include Dog Land (animals), YWFG (memes), Fisherman’s Wharf (fishing), 50mMidas (gaming), Preneur (business and motivation), The Vach (news and politics), and more. So far, Poybo has lured 7 billion views.

They’ve refined quickfire viral publishing into an art form. Poybo spots videos before they become hits, and, with lightning speed, uploads them to its Instagram pages. The clips are usually taken from YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and other Instagram accounts. Sometimes there is a credit and link to the source account or the person who sent it in, and sometimes there isn’t. They have around a dozen staff, including freelancers. Most are still in high school or college. Producers are tasked with scouring the web for video clips and sifting through the emails Poybo’s viewers send in each day, submitting or suggesting content they’ve seen online. The atmosphere, according to two people we’ve spoken to who worked there, is anarchic and appears to be part digital media start-up and part club. There have been instances of childish messages. 

Poybo Media is popular. But not everyone is a fan. The publisher, and others like it, has been accused of fueling a sexist culture among young men. Their news distributor, The Vach, posted multiple videos aiding in the popularity of misogynistic internet personality Andrew Tate. Jin wants to balance that. “It’s essential that we’re more than just online humor for guys,” he mentioned in an interview with LA Weekly. “We want to be the one-stop shop for everyone’s entertainment.” So, they want to launch women-focused brands led by female executives next year. They also want to go global. “We’ve begun to see growing numbers in India,” he told USA Today. Luckily, Poybo’s animal-themed accounts appeal to a wider cross-section of people. Dog content is usually humorous, hardly ever controversial, and almost always cute.

The company is making decent amounts of money from advertising as well as drawing in a huge audience – it reportedly makes more than US$300,000 in revenue.

If the success of Poybo Media shows anything, it’s that for a whole generation of people, social media and the consumption of text, pictures, and video are the same thing – for the twentysomething reader of 2023, content is consumed not alone, but with friends. Poybo Media has identified a profound shift in media consumption habits. In doing so, it has stolen a march on the media establishment it so clearly wants to join.


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