James Kuk has been part of the gaming industry for long. Currently he works as a Senior Director on the Global Business Development team at Twitch, the company that drives live-streaming videos and games.
At Twitch, James oversees B2B partnerships with Game Developers & Publishers, e-sports companies, and other new gaming and creator-focused practices. Prior, James led investments and partnerships in gaming and entertainment at Xbox and in media and online businesses at Apax Partners.
Koreatechdesk.com asked James Kuk a few questions about his work in the gaming industry, his view on Korean startups and his interest in working with them.
1. How did you join Twitch?
I joined Twitch in 2015. Prior to it I was a leader in the game publishing/investments and business development group for Xbox Studios and led Xbox’s esports and live streaming initiatives. After working with Twitch on launching their service on Xbox and on several new esports practices including Halo and Gears of War esports, I eventually joined Twitch to build their Esports and Gaming Business Development practices.
2. Please tell more about your role in the company.
I am a Senior Director on the Global Business Development team and oversee our Games Publisher & Developer partnership practices. We drive partnerships to help drive innovation and value to our creators and our business partners that span game publishers and developers, esports companies, new media and sports leagues. Some of the notable partnerships and products we’ve launched include the “Overwatch League All-Access Pass” with Blizzard Entertainment, and ground-breaking content programs such as “Broadcaster Royale” with PUBG Corporation. These products and programs have pushed the envelope for esports viewership as well as given back immense value to content creators and our community at large.
3. What have you learned so far in your industry and what do you want to achieve in the future?
The global economy for content creators is thriving and has incredible runway to grow, and our community and creators are receiving amazing press and acclaim. Spontaneous moments where our partners like Ninja organically stream games with world-class performers, music performers like Drake, Travis Scott and Marshmello are pop-culture events. Mass media events like this inspire me to help bring this industry to even greater heights that will continue to rival traditional media and entertainment.
4. What are the main factors that startups have difficulties in working with corporates in your industry?
I’d actually argue that startups have found success in working with corporates in our industry. In fact, all of our hundreds of thousands of content creators and developers are in fact or like individual businesses. Whether they’re a single person streaming on our site, a young streaming and broadcast tools company, or even a large esports league, they are all finding success on our services. We exist to help companies of all sizes, especially smaller ones, succeed. That said, like any company, no one finds overnight success. Content creators, developers, esports companies, they all require a commitment to quality and patience to grow their audiences.
5. What’s your advice to entrepreneurs who have a chance to meet an industry expert like you to ask for support?
Be focused and have clear goals. Many companies I interact with sometimes fall into the trap of doing either too many things or not understanding what they want to ultimately achieve. Setting goals and a vision requires steady focus and discipline.
6. How do you want to support Korean startups in the future if you have opportunities?
I’d be happy to provide insights on how to set their sights, goals and execution plans on global opportunities. I’ve worked with many Korean partners in the past, and understand some of the decisions companies have to make between operating for the Korea market versus a global market. I’d love to see more stories of Korean startups finding success outside of Korea.
7. What’s your general thought about the term “Global”?
At the heart of it, I’m a video games guy through and through. Video games inherently transcend the global market and cater to gamers regardless of culture or language. To me, a “global” business like the video games business and is able to transcend local dynamics (albeit all global products and services require some level of localization).
8. What are the important factors (criteria) for Korean startups to consider in a US expansion in your industry?
Korean startups must be comfortable with ambiguity and competition. The content creator and live-streaming industry are by definition supporting millions of people and businesses. And while there are definitely some patterns of best practices forming, the innovation content creators and developers bring to the table are seen every day, week and month on services like Twitch. The trick is to find your niche or angle, and to have conviction in what you are trying to accomplish. With patience and focus, you can absolutely find success.
9. As you know, our Media Group name is “beSUCCESS”, what’s your definition of the term “success” as an industry expert or as an individual human being?
Simple, set out a goal and come to work every day to achieve it. Your only benchmark in life for achievement is yourself. If you accomplished your goal, dream or vision, you’ve found success.
10. What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Nothing. I love my life! I’ve had many meandering life moments where I’ve asked myself, “What am I doing”, or, “Am I happy or getting something meaningful out of this?” When I don’t say yes, I reflect and try to see the silver lining and consider the following, “Is this getting me to the next thing I want in life”, and 9/10 it’s a yes. As long as you feel there’s a greater purpose, don’t change anything!
11. When you come to Korea next time, what kind of Korean entrepreneurs and startups you want to meet?
Gaming, new content and media, and entertainment startups. Anything in adjacent categories is great too!
James Kuk will be attending TIPS X beSUCCESS KOREAN STARTUP SHOWCASE as one of the prominent judges on March 12th, 2019 at JW Marriott San Francisco.