Introducing Iflix: A Streaming Service Operating in Emerging Markets

A former employee described the African business’ traction among consumers as “pitiful,” but noted that Iflix’s expansion—which kicked off in 2017—was necessary to attract investor attention and capital. In December 2015, TechCrunch reported that Iflix had spoken with VCs to raise $150 million to extensively expand its presence—then just Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand—by moving into other parts of Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

“There was a lot of stuff that was going on behind the scenes that was done solely to make it look good to investors,” the person added.

Even without Africa, there was more shedding to come. Also in December, Iflix laid off staff across Southeast Asia, leading to the surreal moment when its chief media relations officer departed the business weeks after denying the cuts. It had already allowed previously celebrated content deals with Disney and other West producers to quietly lapse, with content disappearing from its site overnight. The cost-cutting continued into 2019, and last month, Iflix was reported to have shut down its Middle East operations.

According to Deadline, which broke the news, multiple local buyers claimed they were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by Iflix but were unable to reach their local contacts at the company.

That’s not all. Iflix plans to shutter its engineering hub in Prague, Czech Republic, at the end of September to further reduce overheads, a former employee revealed. The office houses nearly 50 staff and was set up three years ago to augment Iflix’s engineering teams in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Beijing, China and Melbourne, Australia. The person said the move is part of Iflix’s strategy to focus on core markets in Southeast Asia.

Iflix—a sinking ship?

Iflix—a sinking ship

Flip-flopping on strategy isn’t anything to write home about in the world of startups, where A-B testing, pilot trials and limited rollouts are common methods for testing ideas in real-world conditions. But those with knowledge of how Iflix’s business developed raised concerns about some aspects of how the company is run. How its senior team works with the rest of the staff, in particular.

One former employee called decision making “wonky.” While the person conceded that startup life is all about ironing out kinks and staff turnover, they suggested that Iflix’s management regularly shifted its strategy and changed plans, which didn’t help when it came to convincing investors about the company’s prospects or simply executing long-term strategies.

In reviewing over 140 reviews on Glassdoor, the website where employees can anonymously rate company working experiences, feedback regularly centres around frustrations with management and an apparent unwillingness to listen to staff. The company is described as a “sinking ship” in numerous reviews, with CEO Mark Britt’s confidence rating at 40%.