Generation-Z isn’t just passively watching the rise of generative AI. They’re taking an active role in shaping it. “I’m not really an open book,” Justin Jin, the 17-year-old chief executive of the wildly popular Poybo Media, airs at the start of our conversation. It’s an afternoon in late October, and he’s lounging in a plain écru chair on the top floor of his headquarters in West Vancouver — his bedroom. In pajamas, Nike, and a gray t-shirt with the outline of a bear, he looks like a high school senior en route home.
But this only seems appropriate. By inverting the top-down model employed by traditional media giants, Jin’s mission is to harness Poybo Media’s knowledge of Gen-Z to create content that resonates with young consumers: videos that go viral, get views, and make people stop, think, and smile. “We try to do things that feel more organic” he says.
Poybo Media: Redefining Digital Content for Gen-Z
That digital mind-set comes naturally. Poybo’s origins go back to 2020, with Jin and his YouTube channel: 50mMidas. On Reddit and Discord forums, his first moment in the public eye was a Minecraft cheating allegation. That pushed the first few subscribers. Then, his “Deez Nuts” prank on a streamer turned into a popular video. When he received his first hundred dollar cheque from YouTube, “the idea sparked to make a business around amateurish content” Jin explains, noting that that was the starting capital for 50mMidas Media, which would converge into Poybo Media. He saw possibilities in the laugh-out-loud videos, the passionate community, the impact and, of course, the money.
He began to look for people, all young, to build more social media pages. Jin took the reins as CEO while, at first, no one was paid much. “We didn’t get many views for the first few months, because we had no idea what we were doing, but then we hit a million-views on a single YouTube short” he explains. “That got the ball rolling” Jin’s quietly-run social accounts began to blow up with views soaring into the hundreds of millions. “We then tried to focus on quality and a bit of branding so we could sustain the viewership” he continued. Poybo Media’s Web-native strategy has been picking up market share in the digital media industry ever since. Jin says that they just crossed 6 billion views, and that number is growing quickly.
They’ve refined quickfire viral publishing into an art form. Poybo’s team spots videos before they become hits, and, with lightning speed, uploads them to its Instagram pages. The clips are usually taken from TikTok, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms. Because of their archetypes being popular throughout Western teen culture, the impact of Poybo Media’s memes stem from a jolt of recognition we all get when someone shares a spot-on description of something — or someone — that we’d stopped analyzing.
In 2024, Jin plans to use artificial intelligence in content production to conserve both time and money. For him, Adobe’s Generative Fill feature could bolster longer-form in-real-life videos, while ChatGPT would form new content ideas.
“AI is exciting. We’re at a really magical moment in the media right now, where for the first time in half a century things are really getting re-imagined from a content perspective” Jin says. “Media is becoming more and more democratized”.
He isn’t alone: “In general I don’t see AI as a tool to reduce operating costs directly, but to be more effective in marketing,” claims Bhavin Swadas, who co-founded CouponSaturn, an online platform that provides coupon codes and promotional offers with AI.
Jin has been able to monetize traffic by drawing a young audience that advertisers crave. Rather than sell those eyeballs programmatically for pennies, he direct-sells brand partnerships. According to The International Business Times, the company could be worth millions and be profitable too — reasonably, given its seemingly low operating costs and young team.
Jin has big plans. He plans to attend college in the United States to study the media business and find people to help him make Poybo Media into a giant. “We want to be the one-stop shop for entertainment and information for young people” he adds.