Nikita S @singareddynm investor @rre ventures (seed, A, B) 👩🏾‍💻 keeping tech weird on spaceship earth, serial experimenter 🤖 ex @oscarhealth @thegovlab stats @columbia Dec. 22, 2018 3 min read

A thread on China’s Social+ model.

A number of Chinese ecommerce startups/companies have adopted a social+ model where business is anchored by a social pillar that drives user engagement and growth. China has < 50% internet penetration (which makes these #s more impressive). /1

Pinduoduo - eBay-like social commerce app with 226 MAUs in 2017

Get discounts by buying as a group with friends on WeChat and QQ. With other incentives like cash, coupons, lotteries, and free products, mobile Pinduoduo manages to acquire users at a v low cost. IPO’d in 2018./2

Xiaohongshu - a hybrid of Instagram, Pinterest, and Amazon with 30M MAUs in 2017

Users post photos of themselves, tagging clothes, accessories, and makeup to actual listings within the platform. Main feed: influencers’ product photos, reviews, and tips./3

Qutoutiao - social news app with 10M DAU in 2018

A mobile news content aggregator.. that uses financial incentives to build followers (relying on existing social networks). You get 💰when you and your followers read the news on consecutive days. Was best performing 2018 IPO. /4

Mint - social English-learning app

Users are encouraged to share their progress with friends on WeChat Moments’ feed for an incentive: if they post everyday for 80 days, they get free English books 📚

Some honorable mentions: KuGo, China’s most popular social user-generated video app (yeah, move aside TikTok). 228 MAU. Wide audience especially village towns, thanks to square dancing content. Has virtual gift giving (users receive “song coins” transferable into real currency).

TikTokand ByteDance, of course. Especially with the news that the company has applied for fintech and insurance licenses. 

Many of these upstart social apps are/will be acquired/have major stakes by Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba.

Social+ platforms are not just unique to China. We see versions of this in other Asian countries. But does anyone know similar European, Latin American, or African apps?

Do I see this as the future for American apps? Yes, quite possibly. I’ve always wondered why there wasn’t a successful social commerce app like Xiaohongshu.

We’ve got Insta, Wish, Depop, Wanelo, WeHeartIt... but nothing as multi-functional AND social as Xiaohongshu.

But, as I’ve tweeted before... any US/Western counterpart has to offer something unique. Maybe by breaking into adjacent industries or organizing by specific vertical communities (which none of these Chinese apps seem to do).

Last thing: the ABSURD rate at which these social+ biz are dominating.

Pinduoduo (the social discount shopping app) has moved as much merchandise in its 2.5 yr existence as it took JD, VIPshop, and Taobao/Alibaba to do in 10 years, 8yrs, and 5 yrs respectively.

Since last year, I've been interested in China's Social+ apps. Here's the biggest music streaming app you've never heard of: NetEase's Wangyi 网易云音

👥 600M+ MAU
🎶 Video reviews (like Youtube) + annotations (like Genius)
💻 Supports self-posting (like SoundCloud)
🎤 Karaoke

Great thread by @mhdempsey on Ruhnn and its full-service influencer product (helping incubate influencers; analyzing purchasing trends, customer desires, & feedback; building products around their identity).

Nothing this sophisticated in the US.

A reminder that Spotify is not the most valuable music company - Tencent Music (TME) is worth $28B.

👥800M MAUs
📱Owns QQ, Kugou, Kuwo, karaoke app KG
🎶 200+ labels rep'd like SONY, Universal
🎥User video competitions like RAVE (EDM contest), The Coming One (~American Idol)

“Game companion” apps are gaining popularity in China.

Bixin is the most popular ($25M Series A led by IDG)

Send out an order for the games you want to play and when to play; interested virtual companions will respond. Session vary from 10 to 25 virtual Bixin coins, about $2-5.

Zhihu is China’s Quora, the 3rd most popular student platform after WeChat, Weibo

👥180M users, 35M MAU
📶$2.5B valuation
🧔🏻Skews male, affluent (rare on Asian apps)
📝Rev: ads, edu content marketplace (online classes, consulting, podcasts, ebooks)

Interestingly, Zhihu users establish a Haiyan (behavior quality score) shown publicly based on:
1) Resume, education
2) Content creation - asking/answer Qs, publishing articles
3) Friendly interaction
4,5) Community building/behavior - voting, inappropriate content, plagiarism

You can follow @singareddynm.


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