M17, the Taiwan-based live streaming entertainment startup, announced that it has raised a $26.5 million Series D. The round was led by Vertex Growth Fund, with participation from Stonebridge Korea Unicorn Venture Fund, Innoven Capital Singapore, Kaga Electronics and ASE Global Group.

The new funding will be used for growth in Japan, one of M17’s key markets, and expansion into the United States and other regions including the Middle East.

The company’s funding announcement said that more users are logging onto live streaming apps to stay entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic. It added that M17, whose products include live streaming app 17 Media and a talent agency called Unicorn Entertainment, has seen a record number of artists and users signing up over the past few months.

17 Media enables content creators to monetize through in-app gifts and social commerce. In January, the company said it had processed over $500 million worth of virtual gifts for 30,000 exclusive content creators.

Two years ago, M17 planned to list on the New York Stock Exchange, but cancelled its IPO in June 2018 and decided to continue raising private funding.

In a statement, Vertex Growth managing director Tam Hock Chuan said, “We are impressed by M17’s market leading position and continued strong growth in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. With M17’s unique value proposition and battle-hardened management team, the company is well prepared for its next phase of growth.”

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