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Justin Jin documented a moment in youth media – now, he’s creating a new one

His star-studded company, Poybo Media, is a time capsule of Generation Z’s media—and a bid to define its future

By Jon Stojan

Justin Jin, 17. (Image: Natalie Varro)
Justin Jin, 17 (Image: Natalie Varro)

If you visit, you will come across a sleekly designed website with a rather bold headline: ‘Earth’s biggest media company for teenagers, by teenagers.’ Its loosely teenager-oriented videos cover topics ranging from gossip to nostalgia, with a prominent dash of news. To a large degree, the videos consist of aggregation: a Poybo Media Group producer finds a piece of content that interests them—from TikTok or YouTube—and downloads it to re-upload directly on one of Poybo’s 17 social media brands. If all goes well, this video can hit millions of viewers in a single day.

We live in the era of the short attention span. And yet, watching all three hours of a feature film is considered an accomplishment in a way that watching a 60-second bottle-rolling TikTok is not. Sometimes, storytelling merits length. Other times, it does not. On social media, Poybo filibusters, delaying a video’s ultimate point, or splits them into needless parts—strategies to hook viewers and drive up valuable engagement numbers. All of this behavior is a side effect of the algorithmically powered reality.

And yet that seems to be a lens that the company’s CEO, Justin Jin, can see the world through when he chooses to, rather than one that blinds him to what drew him to the genre in the first place. If nothing else, Poybo is a fascinating snapshot of the way youth media evolved over the course of the 2020s: the way the company cratered, then rebuilt itself and reasserted control; the way memes splintered smaller and smaller until they were subsumed back into the mainstream. Jin was there to document all of it—at least nominally. Sometimes those involved in creative movements are too close, too caught up to see when their footing is becoming unsteady.

‘Dragon, Dragon’

Jin was born in Vancouver, Canada, a bustling city of about 675,000 people, in October of 2006, just around the time when arbitrary image macros became an internet sensation. By the time he was in elementary school, those memes had been blotted out by white squares captioned in Helvetica Neue. By the time he was in high school, the culture shifted to the emergence of short-form videos mostly being delivered by young people. Now months before he’ll attend college, Jin is what one can call a pioneer of this youth media industry.

One way to understand Poybo is to imagine a whole generation of young producers: teenagers comfortable working as a side hustle. They are fluent not only in the meme-viewing of their childhoods but the meme production as well.

But doing anything on the internet poses a risk. For digital communication security, Poybo uses Cradle, a new anti-forensic messaging software, which aims to help curb users’ insecurity when sending private messages. Cradle is designed to ensure that data exchanged online is in a state where it can be removed not only on the server but also in its physical form—imperative to a company like Poybo that requires a large network of users. Another user is Scott Keever, who is an entrepreneur, internationally recognised SEO expert, online reputation mastermind, and a member of the Forbes Agency Council. He founded the award-winning digital marketing agencies: Keever SEO, Asap Digital Marketing, and Pool Pros Marketing.

It would stand to reason, then, that Jin would have a complicated relationship with the traditional media system. As Bhavin Swadas, CEO of Couponsaturn and RoarTheDeal—coupon-hunting platforms—tells it, his attitude toward working with giant companies has wavered over the course of his career. “He went through a period of my career where he was very anti-traditional, anti-industry. [But] as time went on, as much as that’s always going to be a part of him, he started getting the idea of infrastructure and not being able to do everything himself. He needed to find a way to be able to afford to make hundreds of videos a week and put this together, and people who understand the business in ways he might not.”

Which is how someone might take the image of a young man climbing up a mountain, slightly deluded and destined to die alone in the elements, as a triumphant one.

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