This interview is part of our series of articles and interviews with the members of HOLOSTARS English -TEMPUS- and hololive Production’s CEO Motoaki Tanigo. This series includes interviews and recommendation lists from some of the world’s most well known VTubers and the President of COVER Corp.
Since its founding in 2016, COVER Corp and hololive Production have become synonymous with the burgeoning VTuber industry. Since the debut of hololive Production’s first VTuber, Tokino Sora, the company has expanded into three languages and now represents dozens of talent with over 64 million collective subscribers on YouTube alone. We had the pleasure of talking with COVER Corp’s CEO Motaki Tanigo about the history of his company, the future of VTubing, and what he thinks about the infamous nickname “YAGOO!”
Could you please introduce yourself for our readers?
Motoaki Tanigo: I am the CEO of COVER Corp. And my name is Motoaki Tanigo. I am also known as YAGOO. Nice to meet you!
It’s nice to meet you as well! Could you tell us a bit about your career? How did you get started and what did you work on before starting COVER Corp.?
Tanigo: First of all, after university, I started working at a game company. I was a producer there. I went on to then create a lot of UGC — user generated content. And then after that, I created the COVER Corporation.
What led you to create COVER Corporation? What are your intentions when starting the company?
Tanigo: This is actually the second company I created. The first one I founded didn’t do so well. With the second company, I really wanted to make sure that it was something I was familiar with, that it was something I had expertise with like VR and AR technology. That’s really what led me to found COVER Corp. — so I could create content in the field I knew I was good at.
I know COVER Corp. started out not necessarily focusing on VTubers. How did you and your company first get into VTubers to begin with?
Tanigo: First of all, when we first started doing work with VTubers, VTubing wasn’t really a thing yet. There, of course, was Hatsune Miku, that was really successful and kind of the iconic UGC community that was out there. With my expertise in my particular field, I wanted to create something similar. That’s what led me down the path that became VTubing and getting into that space.
This isn’t a question — more of a comment — but I really love Miku. It feels like you’ve taken the core idea of Miku and expanded it in a special way that really shares it with the world.
Tanigo: Thank you very much.
VTubers have become so popular! What is it about VTubers that you think makes them so unique compared to other forms of entertainment?
Tanigo: Probably the biggest reason for this success is the element of real time interaction. The VTubers and the audience get to communicate. That’s probably the biggest reason. And also because we’re in such a difficult time right now with COVID. The fact that everyone around the world is able to get together in this moment and have this community within the VTuber space. I think that’s a big part of it as well.
In a way, COVER Corp is connecting all of our hearts across space.
Tanigo: Thank you!
My next question is about the company itself. hololive Production has a very positive reputation, not just the talent, but the corporation itself. How did you and your team manage to cultivate such a good relationship with your audience?
Tanigo: Usually, with an organization like this, you only see the talent, but with hololive Production, I and my staff are quite visible to the audience. We’re out in the forefront. I think that really helps build trust with the audience. I think that’s a really big part of it.
Even if it seems like you’re only seeing one person on the screen when you’re watching a VTuber, we’re trying to make it feel like you’re a part of … almost an entire universe. It’s not just one person, all of us together are creating that.
That’s so special, I really love that sentiment. My next question is actually sort of related to that.
Most CEOs are somewhat distant and people don’t really get to see them in a public way, but, as you were saying, you and the rest of the hololive Production staff are very visible and accessible. Was that something intentional?
Tanigo: It was something that just sort of happened organically. It wasn’t really something where we thought, “Okay, let’s do this.” A lot of the time you see that for games as well — there will be a community manager who will come to the forefront and kind of become a part of the brand for that game. I almost liken myself to a community manager in that way.
The birth of the nickname “YAGOO”
I have a sort of a funny question. Ever since a very specific Robocosan stream, you’ve gained the nickname YAGOO. How do you feel about this nickname?
Tanigo: I feel that with the name “Tanigo”… it feels a lot more formal, like the president of the company. I embraced “YAGOO” to make myself a bit more personable to the audience. That’s my reasoning behind going along with it.
I think that worked really well! You see a lot of fans commenting “YAGOO-san! YAGOO-san!”
Do you have any advice for aspiring VTubers who want to try and audition?
Tanigo: Probably the biggest piece of advice I can give is to have a skill, something you’re good at, and really hone it. Become like an expert. That’s the important thing. You also need to be able to communicate on the internet. You need to be able to do that very efficiently and expertly.
That makes sense to me. Many of my favorite VTubers are highly focused on displaying a certain skill like drawing or singing.
It feels like we’re only at the beginning of VTubing as an industry. What do you think we have to look forward to in the future of VTubing?
Tanigo: As you said, it is the beginning of this industry, so a lot of the VTubers we see right now are in the style of Japanese anime. I would be interested in seeing more US style CG movie-type VTubers. As PC specs get better, we can expect to see VTubers become more and more lifelike and look a lot more human. I would like to see that. We have also been getting into the Metaverse. Through VR chat, the talent is able to collaborate with fans, but we would like to make it so that they could chat with each other as well.
I have one final question before we wrap up: do you have any final message or thoughts you would like to share with fans of hololive Production or fans of YAGOO-san?
Tanigo: hololive Production and COVER Corp are planning to come out with a lot of other content with VTubers, so please keep that in mind and look out for a lot of exciting great content going forward. Please look forward to it.
Other articles in this series:
Cayla Coats tweets @ceicocat.