The Forbes Australia Forums are a series of exclusive business events that will offer the opportunity to meet, learn from, and interact with people who have made it their mission to grow – and disrupt – the business world.
Preparing to take to the stage as event curator and host of the upcoming Forbes Australia Forums is Felicity McVay.
Formerly the global head of entertainment at TikTok, McVay more than 20 years of content experience in TV and online – including more than seven years at Google, with several roles in Google’s AU/NZ leadership team and time as head of YouTube content partnerships AU/NZ.
Ahead of the Forums, Mediaweek caught up with McVay to chat about what made her say yes to joining the Forums, and what some of the biggest trends in digital content are today.
First of all, what made you say yes to joining the Forbes Australia Forums?
“I’m a long-time fan of Forbes and their quality business journalism and am inspired by their vision in Australia to build a community of like-minded professionals including entrepreneurs, founders, leaders and business operators. As a leader in the technology and media industries at organisations like Fremantle, Google/YouTube and TikTok, I’m passionate about developing team capabilities and I believe one of the best ways to do this is via peer-to-peer learning, drawing on real life situations, wins and challenges experienced by others.
“When Forbes Australia offered me the opportunity to co-curate the inaugural Forums, I jumped at the chance to tap my network of colleagues, business associates and contacts. There is such a wealth of business talent in Australia with global expertise and insights and I’m excited that we can provide access to them to a broader audience of people who are keen to invest in their personal and professional development.”
What do you hope guests get out of the Forums?
“Our goal is to provide guests with practical, actionable insights that they can apply in their businesses and lives. The intimate setting will enable attendees to connect directly with speakers and have all of their questions answered, as well as connect with other guests to build their networks. We are committed to providing guests with a quality and unique experience that is both informative and engaging.”
With your experience in TV and online content, including your roles at Google and TikTok, what are some key trends or shifts you’ve observed in the industry over the years?
“With a career focused largely on digital content, my focus has been on content, and the biggest shift I have seen is the emergence of creators producing high-quality content. Rewind the clock to 2010 when I joined YouTube as one of its first AUNZ employees, there were only advertisers, publishers, and users on the platform, with the latter producing low-quality content that sometimes went viral.
“Most people remember the video Charlie Bit My Finger, but no one remembers who created it. The success of YouTube and TikTok is now centred on creators like The Inspired Unemployed, MrBeast, and Sarah Magusara, who are not only driving views and watch time for these platforms but are building successful brands and businesses in an industry that’s estimated to be worth over US$100B. We’ve come a long way since the days of dogs on skateboards and keyboard playing cats.”
As the hottest topic at the moment, what are your thoughts on Meta’s new Threads app? Is it actually going to ‘kill Twitter?’
“It’s almost impossible to bet on a winning horse but I think Meta’s timing is good. Users and consumers are tired of seemingly endless negative headlines across the world and changes under Musk’s leadership of Twitter have meant it has been a source of ongoing controversy. Meta is simply tapping into a gap in the market and consumers are responding favourably.
“Threads’ success beyond the initial flurry of sign-ups will depend on whether they are able to convert high profile Twitter users to their platform to cement it as the platform of choice for major announcements and if their user experience surpasses that of Twitter, addressing challenges such as hate speech and the spread of misinformation. Typically, users are reluctant to move platforms when they’ve already built a community, but the emergence of TikTok has demonstrated that it can be done when the value proposition favours the user with investment and innovation in algorithm, UX and community design.”
How significant is the Australian market when it comes to the creator ecosystem?
“I don’t have access to any data beyond what is publicly available. According to Adobe, the number of content creators has doubled to over 303 million worldwide in 2022. In Australia, there are now over 6 million content creators, contributing to the creator economy which is estimated to be worth approximately US$100B.”
Top Image: Felicity McVay