Zynn, A TikTok Lookalike, Pays Users to Watch Videos
Right as everyone in America was beginning to understand and getting addicted to TikTok, a lookalike short-form video app hits the market. The catch? This one actually pays users to join, to watch the videos, and then for referring their friends.
The app is called Zynn and is currently the #1 app in the Apple Store and in the top 10 of the Google Play Store, boasting over 2 billion global downloads just last month. Zynn launched in early-May, climbing the app charts in record time. But why is this TikTok clone taking off? Do people really need more than one short-form video platform?
Zynn is a short-form video social media platform that is a nearly identical, button-for-button, to TikTok. The key difference between the two? Zynn pays its users to watch videos and get friends to sign up. This monetization model likely explains its meteoric rise to the tops of the app charts.
When a user joins Zynn, one dollar is immediately placed in their account balance. From there the user can earn money either by watching videos in their entirety or by referring friends to download and use the app. A user can earn $20 for each friend referred and up to $110 for referring 5 friends to the app (Note: the fine print of the app stipulates that the full amount will only be rewarded if the people you refer continue to regularly use the app.)
What about the points, how do those work? As a user watches a video in Zynn, there is a countdown timer in the corner of their screen. The more you watch the more the timer fills with points. These points can then be redeemed later by the user as either cash or gift cards.
With the COVID-19 crisis in America reaching 3 months of sheltering in place and rising unemployment, an entertainment app that pays you to use it might sound too good to be true.
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Users
Zynn was developed by a well-known Chinese company called Owlii. However, Kuaishou acquired Owlii and was the one to release Zynn to the public.
Kuaishou, also known as Kwai in China, just closed its first round of financing with backers including Sequoia Capital, Morningside Venture Capital, and DST Global as well as Chinese internet companies Baidu and Tencent. The $3 billion round of financing in December of last year gave the Chinese startup a pre-money valuation of $28 billion.
It is reported that ByteDance, the company which owns TikTok, and Tencent, a key funder of Kwai, are bitter rivals. There have been lawsuits filed against each other in the past which supports this theory. Those close to the matter cite the viral ByteDance apps stealing users from Tencent’s games and social network WeChat as the source of the tension.
The launch of Zynn represents Tencent’s first serious attempt in the US market.
Is TikTok’s Time Up?
In short, probably not. At least, not any time soon. While the download-to-payment model of Zynn has translated to millions of downloads worldwide, there has not yet been the high-quality content creation that TikTok boasts. Most of the videos that populate Zynn are from Kuaishou, the Chinese sister-app, rather than from Zynn itself.
The model of Zynn took off in China and has stood the test. If users begin creating hilarious or addictive content on Zynn like they do on TikTok, the app will have continued success.
Additionally, one of the biggest turning points for TikTok’s popularity in the US was when the videos began to be amplified by cross-posting on other platforms. When people started seeing hilarious TikToks on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, they were interested and thus more likely to download the app. If Zynn hopes to lure these users away from TikTok, they will likely need to follow suit.
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