Asian Boss is months away from shutting down

Asian Boss, a South-Korea based media company, has released a video saying they are running out of cash. Their investors have gone bankrupt. Asian Boss has started a GoFundMe campaign today, and at the time of this posting, has got 590,000 views on YouTube and $345,000 raised.

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Robert Huot
January 27, 2021 5:54 pm

There’s a trend that’s very common on the internet nowadays that I believe Asian Boss has fallen victim to. The CEO Stephen Park admits to leaving “little attention to monetization.” There are several ways to dissect this statement. Either it was a mistake because he simply neglected it, or he neglected it because he thought it would damage Asian Boss’s reputation. That’s the issue a lot of companies face right now. It’s trendy to say you’re not ‘doing it for the money’. There are companies out there who are doing amazing work, yet they try to distance themselves from making too much profit because of the association with corporate greed.

The problem here is that Asian Boss is a business. I needs to make money to survive! That is a fundamental part of how it can continue to serve its mission of raising awareness of Asian culture. This trend is so pervasive that it’s making businesspeople and creators hesitate to make money from their work. I watched a YouTuber the other day apologizing to his audience that he will have to start putting ads on his videos. Why should he apologize!? He frequently uploads videos that provide value to his audience. He must spend hours every day working on the videos, yet he feels bad saying he’s going to be making money from his work.

Although it’s the cool thing to say these days that you’re not in it for the money, there’s a counter-trend that’s pragmatic and understands the need for a business to make profit. The viewers of the YouTuber I just mentioned have commented on his videos, saying he’s putting a lot of work in and should get money for it. On top of that, the public appreciates businesses that have broken the mould and gone from a small scale start-up to one that influences millions of people. If Asian Boss does survive, and it certainly is looking good as it’s close to reaching its $700k target, fans will be sympathetic to future monetization strategies.

Kaitlyn Mora
January 26, 2021 10:26 pm

Not everyone is sympathetic to the plight of Asian Boss. Many businesses have struggled and had to shut down. What makes Asian Boss so special that it has to be saved? With 40% of their staff being let go and the rest taking pay cuts, some people are putting the blame on the CEO for his lack of foresight. Why did he neglect monetization?

Others are much more sympathetic saying he was focused on his mission of bridging cultural gaps, which is more important to the team than profitability.

Another point of controversy is the lack of transparency about the donations. Where will the money be going specifically? Yes, it will help Asian Boss survive. But look at charities that ask for donations. Usually they have very detailed transparency reports explaining what each penny will be used for. At a difficult time like this for Asian Boss, we can’t expect a long, professionally published report, but some transparency will help. They’re almost at $600,000 Australian dollars. This is no small amount.

Perhaps some offer of exchange could have been mentioned. Not to the extent of ownership of Asian Boss such as stock. But maybe those who donated could be put on an exclusive list who get access to special content before everyone else. Whatever it is, there doesn’t appear to be much reciprocity for those supporting a business.

In the current arrangement the CEO could quite literally take the money and sail away on a yacht 🤣🤣 Of course this would be a crazy move that would ruin the company and the CEO’s reputation, but things like this have happened before. On the weird world of YouTube, some channel owners have asked for donations, and then ended up spending the money on cars or other unnecessary items.

Last edited 4 months ago by Kaitlyn Mora
Jason Ng
January 25, 2021 10:03 pm

This predicament is resonating with many fans and even non-fans of Asian Boss. The coronavirus has impacted so many businesses and livelihoods. I didn’t know that Asian Boss’s videos were getting demonetized by YouTube. And I only heard about their appeal for help from a friend’s Facebook post. She praised their authenticity and attempt to break down cultural barriers.

So far their #SaveAsianBoss GoFundMe campaign is doing well. Already $422,698 from over 10,000 donors. It really shows how much of an impact online media has. Particularly when it comes to culture, which can so often be misunderstood and a cause of conflict. Clearly to some viewers the channel’s mission of bridging cultural gaps is important enough to donate large sums of money. The two highest donations so far are for $15,000 and $10,000, both by anonymous donors.

Though there is a bit of criticism – or maybe questioning is the right word. Some viewers are wondering why they’ve gone for this large one-off fundraiser instead of doing something more enduring and stable such as Patreon.

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Art Charrel
January 30, 2021 10:41 am

I don’t know whether to be surprised or just resign myself to the fact that some unscrupulous individuals will always try to scam donors. The #SaveAsianBoss campaign has been enormously popular, generating a massive outpouring of support. But along the way fake donation pages have been created, attempting to divert funds that were intended for Asian Boss. The main Asian Boss page and their social media pages have warned their followers of the fake pages.

Asian Boss won’t be affected too much by this. They achieved their fundraising goal and are AUS $30,000 beyond it right now. I can only hope that those who donated to fake pages have got their money back. During corona times we are spending much more time online. Perhaps we don’t have as much patience or due diligence when handing over money with our PayPal or card details. We’re so used to it now. When I first started buying things online, I remember being so careful. I would try to check several times that the site was secure. I would confirm that the company I was sending money to looked as legitimate as possible. Now it’s really just a quick glance at the page. If I see a grammar error, that’s usually a red flag. Otherwise, it’s a quick review and I punch in my details. I think I should go back to my old ways 😂

No doubt many others are the same. There is even a start-up that received funding from investors entirely online. The start-up webpage was professionally done. It had photos of team members, information about their backgrounds and capabilities of their product. Once they received funding, however, their website went down and the ‘team’ disappeared, along with the money. It’s likely that the team that was described on their website was all made up.

It’s a sad reflection how people can try to steal money away from a company that is appealing for support. Whatever you think about Asian Boss, whether they deserve donations; their appeal was genuine. It’s frustrating that some took this as an opportunity to steal money away from them.

Nicole Stratton
January 28, 2021 5:19 pm

Well Asian Boss has reached its donation target. Well done to them for a strong campaign. Over 4,000 shares of their GoFundMe page and just under 20,000 donors. To understand why they’ve been successful, it’s useful to look at things from a donor’s perspective. An Asian friend of mine I’ve known since middle school gave a large donation. Just like me, when we donate money, we generally give to urgent causes; for example, providing emergency relief following an earthquake or flooding.

I asked my friend what made her donate. It’s probably a failure on my part as a friend to have missed this, but she talked about how she didn’t feel comfortable as much anymore. She feels there is much more anti-Asian sentiment in society, driven by the rising power of China and of course the recent pandemic. In her opinion, keeping media like Asian Boss alive was a donation for societal and cultural awareness rather than just saving a popular YouTube channel.

When I look at it like this, the support Asian Boss has received is understandable. Spending or donating your money is like a vote or an appeal for change. A big part of supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement included support for black creators and black-owned businesses. Every one of us holds power through our purchasing decisions, whether it’s to no longer buy from a company that does animal testing or to choose to buy from one that minimizes its carbon emissions. As the saying goes, you vote with your wallet. People have voted and Asian Boss has survived.

Last edited 4 months ago by Nicole Stratton