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The global stranger social industry is surging, and the major social products are constantly moving. Looking back on the past and looking forward to the future, strangers’social development history of more than 20 years seems to have been in a whirlpool, and has been flying above the wind.
Exploration, Soul and many other dating apps are frequently off the shelves, the supervision is tightening, and for a time the wind is blowing.
At a price of US$85 million, Video Opera purchased Jimu wholly to make its best use of strangers’social market.
Momo has released four new social products in succession, moving towards the goal of “China Match Group” with a matrix strategy…
Tinder announced that it would launch Tinder Lite for emerging markets, starting from Southeast Asia, into the Asia-Pacific region.
Google launched the social tool “shoelaces” and Facebook launched the “secret love” function. The giants’pace of laying out strangers’ social interaction seems to be uninterrupted for a moment.
MICO upgraded its brand to MICO WORLD, strengthened its global attributes, and continued to draw money silently in the Middle East, India and other foreign countries…
About guns, pornography, violations… Stranger socialization is always accompanied by various controversies, but it constantly attracts a batch of entrants.
Under the whirlpool and above the tuyere, this hormonal business has undergone more than twenty years of development:
Match.com and others were born, and stranger socialization sprouted from the United States.
In April 1995, Match.com, a dating website, launched the first way to make friends with strangers.
Match was founded by Gary Kremen and Peng T. Ong. In 1999, it was acquired by IAC Corporation of the United States until now.
Despite the changes from the PC era to the mobile Internet era, Match still plays an important role in this industry, and has developed into its group Match Group, which has a number of dating products.
Twenty years after Match was born, IAC packaged and integrated its dating software into Match Group.
On November 19, 2015, Match Group went public in Nasdaq.
Match Group’s Dating and Friendship Brand
As you can see, App Tinder, the largest date in the United States, is also affiliated with Match Group, which even purchased a 20% stake in Chinese dating website Treasure in 2012.
Two years after the birth of Match.com, some dating platforms have emerged in the United States. For example, JDate, a Jewish dating community launched in 1997. JDate is committed to providing opportunities for Jewish men and women to make friends and date, and is still one of the mainstream dating platforms in the Jewish world today.
Looking back at Match now, you can see that its impact is enormous: since then, the way Americans find partners has changed unconsciously.
Stanford’s team of sociologists pointed out that by the 1990s, one in five heterosexual couples in the United States had met in the office, but that figure had dropped to 10% in the past 20 years. By contrast, their chances of finding a successful target on the Internet jumped from 2% in 1995 to 39% in 2017.
Make friends, lovers and couples through the Internet. This form, starting from the United States, has gradually spread around the world since 1995. Almost immediately thereafter, online stranger socialization has taken shape in another big Internet country, China.
Golden Age of Chinese Marriage Websites
In the Chinese market lacking date culture, it was generally accepted that “all love without marriage is hooliganism”; in the early days, strangers’social interaction was confined to dating websites.
Marriage dating websites focus on promoting real marriage, not a typical “social” and with the development of their business model, offline elements are too strong, so they are not so “Internet”. So let’s take the dating website as the rudiment of Chinese strangers’social interaction.
In May 1998, China Dating Center, the predecessor of Treasure Network, was established in Shenzhen, which is the first dating website for marriage and love in China.
In October 2003, Gong Haiyan, a “little dragon girl” in Grade 2 of the School of Journalism, Fudan University, founded the Century Fair in her dormitory.
In May 2004, Li Song and Xiong Zhiqiang, both investment bankers, acquired the China Friendship Center and renamed it Zhenai.com.
In May 2005, after witnessing hundreds of parents matching for their children, Tian Fanjiang, Qianjiang and Muyan jointly created the Lily Network.
In July 2007, Hongdou Online, the predecessor of Yuanwang, was founded by Dong Ship and started to cut into WAP in the following year.
Since then, several major players of online love and marriage in China have assembled and started years of competition. Although after 2005, similar websites sprang up like mushrooms, such as Marriage Online, Love Apartment, Absolute 100, China Hongniang Network and so on, but none of them can enter the first echelon.
Corresponding to the enthusiasm of entrepreneurs, the market was also highly sought after by capital at that time.
From 2004 to 2007, only a few companies, such as Cherish Net, Lily Net, Married Me Net and Century Jiayuan, received more than 50 million dollars in investment, which was a considerable amount at that time.
Financing of several dating websites in 2004-2007: Erie
From 1998 to 2008, the market competition pattern has been formed, including Jiayuan, Lily Net, Youyuan Net and Cherish Net. Although hot for a while, the marriage website is still in the bottleneck of development and does not move towards a bigger future:
In December 2015, Jiayuan delisted from the U.S. and packaged and merged with Lily to list the new three domestic boards.
In November 2017, after the failure of backdoor listing, Zhenbao sold itself cheaply to the Taimeng Investment Group.
In August 2018, Youyuan withdrew its IPO application after two years of queuing.
Because of the limitation of the mode, the overweight of the operation, the single way of making profits and other problems have not been solved, the story of the marriage website ended quietly.
In contrast, in the western market, dating websites such as Match in the United States and Badoo in the United Kingdom have developed steadily during this period due to factors such as dating culture and payment habits.
In addition, while the website of marriage and love is confronting each other, China’s forum friendship has also experienced the development from scratch, from peak to insipid:
In 1997, the cat jumped on the line; in 1998, Xisi Hutong was on the line; in 1999, Tianya was on the line; in 2005, campus network and Douban were on the line; in 2008, Kaixin was on the line; if the early QQ was also counted as strangers’social intercourse, it was born in this period.
Friendship Forum Born in 1997-2008
In any case, chatting, company and dating are not necessarily related to marriage. In the first decade of the 21st century, online dating has become an increasingly recognized way of making friends. Concentrated, customized stranger dating products are appearing in the demand of users.
LBS social budding, “people around” appear
LBS, Location Based Services, location-based services, relying on mobile devices.
LBS was first developed in the United States and originated from the Global Positioning System (GPS) deployed for military applications. By the late 1990s, the application of positioning as the core function began to appear widely. Stranger socialization is one of the scenarios.
With the popularity of LBS, strangers’social products with the main function of “nearby people” began to appear one after another.
In 2009, Zheng Weijie and his team developed Piaoxin, which allows users to define their social circles in products and make friends around them through geographical location.
Gossip did not survive long, and it stopped operating in 2012. On the other side of the ocean, however, a product born in the same year as Piaoxin has been successful.
Foursquare, a mobile social networking service based on users’geographic location, launched in the United States in 2009, and registered more than 1 million users in a short time, reaching 7.5 million in two years. This new service experience brings new business opportunities to strangers’social market.
Foursquare soon became the focus of attention in the mobile Internet industry, media and investors, and set off a wave of imitation. LBS social network service providers such as Loopt, Bright Kite, Yelp, Where, Gowalla and Booyah have emerged in the United States, while strangers, an important player in the stranger social market, have emerged in China.
Strangers’Social Blowout in the Mobile Internet Era
With the emergence and popularization of smart phones, the era of mobile Internet has come quietly. With the development of new technologies such as LBS, big data and artificial intelligence, strangers’social industry becomes sexy in an instant.
Since 2011, mobile Internet has produced one after another platform-level stranger social products, showing unprecedented vitality and various forms.
Major Stranger Social Products Launched in 2011-2014
1. In 2011, Mo Mo: China’s first artillery artifact
In August 2011, the first version of strangers was launched and positioned as a mobile product based on geographical location to meet the social needs of strangers.
Walking heart or kidney is an inherent controversy about strangers’social products. The early strangers undoubtedly chose the latter in positioning.
In order to get to know the people nearby, strangers have caught the nerves of many men, women and men. This near temptation has made the hormonal business a stranger.
About artillery artifacts, the number of strangers has soared: on January 28, 2012, the number of strangers reached 1 million. Half a year later, on August 1, 2012, the number of strangers exceeded 10 million. In December of that year, the number of strangers exceeded 20 million. Three months later, the figure reached 30 million.
At this time point, Wechat, which used to roll out nearby people, drifting bottles and shaking functions, has begun to turn to the circle of friends and Wechat public numbers.
After more than two years of rapid expansion, steadily rooted strangers began to seek brand transformation. In May 2014, Mo Mo launched 14 “white wash” posters, arguing that she is not a “artillery artifact”, emphasizing the attributes of interest and friendship, and at the same time, writing in a straight and faithful manner.
Advertising posters/pictures launched by Momo in 2014 come from the Internet
In 2015, the stranger also asked Jia Zhangke to shoot an advertisement, telling three young people through the stranger to find good stories.
Although in the later stage, in order to save the brand image, strangers spent a lot of effort and cost. However, looking back, the original choice of Mo Mo can not be blamed, after all, it found its own way of survival in the crack.
In fact, strangers were baptized by artillery fire from birth. At that time, in the domestic social market, Tencent QQ and Sina Weibo were in the ascendant, Renren was still very active, and Michao and Weixin had also begun to emerge. In the follow-up development, the rapid rise of Weixin, Michao and Renren almost faded out of people’s vision, and even Weibo was nearly killed in the impact.
In addition, strangers’social interaction is inherently a more sensitive emotional need. After a period of expansion and barbaric growth, the whole industry has even been labeled “about guns” – Tinder is no exception.
Sliding Match Founder
“He has a face that makes people want to scratch left.”
In the United States, this sentence can be used to deny a person’s face.
In 2012, Sean Rad and Justin Mateen founded Tinder, pioneering the “left-slip right-slip” dating product.
Faced with photos of the opposite sex, left sliding feels insensitive, right sliding likes; if they like each other, they will pair up successfully, and then they can chat.
Tuyuan: UX Sishen Tang
Tinder was released on the campus of the University of Southern California in the opening season of September 2012. Less than a week, the download reached 4000, which became a hot topic on campus. The two founders were chosen as “30-Under-30” by Forbes in 2013.
Many people have analyzed that a simple interactive interface is a key factor in Tinder’s success. Since the registration and login stages, Tinder has striven to simplify the user’s “work” and become a pioneer in using Facebook accounts to login. After landing, set the location, gender, photos, and then you can start the appointment.
In addition, this model also reduces people’s fear of being rejected. Tinder shows only those who are successful in matching, and you can’t see those who reject you or have been rejected by you, which will undoubtedly make it very easy.
It can be said that Tinder is excellent in product design and user psychological insight.
After more than six years of development, Tinder has become the most popular dating software in European and American countries. Tinder currently lives more than 10 million days, generates 20 billion slides a day, completes 1.6 billion matches, and helps users achieve 1 million appointments a week.
Finding partners and dating through Tinder has become a very common way. Tinder’s success has also made “sliding pairing” a model to be emulated by numerous strangers’social products, including Bumble, Exploration and MICO.
In 2014, Bumble
Women’s Platform for Friendship Caused by a Tearing War
Speaking of dog blood: Tinder and Bumble had a tangled history.
Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder and CEO of Bumble, was Tinder’s executive and former girlfriend of Justin Mateen, Tinder’s co-founder.
In June 2014, Whitney said that her former boss and boyfriend Mateen continued to abuse and threaten her, and the company deprived her of the title of co-founder. She indicted Mateen in anger, and Mateen was eventually forced to resign.
In addition to protecting its rights and interests through legal means, Whitney intends to compete commercially with Tinder. She left Tinder in 2014 and launched Bumble, promising a safer dating experience for women.
Bumble takes another approach: letting women take the lead. The feature of this application is that it requires women to take the first action and send the first message. With its unique entry point, Bumble has been welcomed by a large number of female users.
For dating platforms, female users are undoubtedly more valuable, bringing in seven times the number of male users. Bumble downloads grew by 570% in 2016 and 2017. According to App Annie, the analysis company, Bumble has become the third largest dating app downloaded in the United States in 2017.
Match Group offered Bumble a $450 million offer, but Bumble rejected it. Someone said it was Whitney who changed the tone of dating motivation. Bumble’s success undoubtedly provides another way of thinking for stranger dating products.
Local heroes are also lonely
Stranger socialization has entered a period of vigorous development since 2011, and has achieved great success in the European, American and Chinese markets. But few people seem to realize that in a conservative, restrained secular society, online strangers have a stronger need for friendship – MICO is keenly aware of this.
In 2014, when Chinese Internet companies were flocking to sea, a product called MICO came online, and its first stop was in the Arab world.
In the Middle East, chatting up on the street is almost impossible, and offline entertainment is scarce. In real life, they are more conservative than the Chinese, which also means that they need online social networking more urgently.
Another point that can not be ignored is that the Middle East is a rich land full of local tyrants, and it is the preferred market for Internet products to absorb gold.
The initial model of MICO is similar to that of strangers. The social interaction based on LBS can make friends with people nearby. Therefore, it is called “overseas strangers” by many media. Later, MICO added a sliding pairing function similar to Tinder.
In addition, based on its global nature, MICO comes with such functions as “global roaming” and “instant translation”.
MICO Product Interface/Map Source: Google Play
There is no very clear information about the founder of MICO.
The known information is that the core teams of its products and technologies are from Tencent and Weibo, while the market and operation leaders are from ZTE and Huawei.
Localization may be the key to MICO’s success.
Many American products are popular all over the world, but there is little effort to localize them in different areas. Generally speaking, they are only translations of language versions.
MICO is different – because its founding team has strong overseas genes and has worked or lived in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia for many years, it has made deep localization for different regions and cultures.
For example, the interface display of Chinese or American products starts from the left, while Arab users are more accustomed to putting content on the right. These details of “adaptation” cater to many local users.
At present, MICO has downloaded more than 150 million copies worldwide, and has achieved its head in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, India and other regions. This is enough to show that strangers’social interaction is a rigid demand in all corners of the world and in all kinds of cultural atmosphere.
Entertainment, Matrix, the Business Breakthrough of Stranger Socialization
Love that is not for marriage is not necessarily hooliganism, but products that are not for making money are necessarily hooliganism.
Social traffic is the most valuable traffic, which is a common recognition, but strangers do not have a clear way to make money from the beginning.
From 2014 to 2017, strangers’social products have gradually matured in commercial exploration, ushered in the outbreak of revenue, and many products have been capitalized.
Match Group: Matrix Strategy and Pay Membership
From a business point of view, Match Group is the undisputed leader in the industry.
In November 2015, Match Group was listed on Nasdaq and accelerated its development after listing. It has also been continuously recognized in the capital market. Its current market value has exceeded $21 billion.
Match Group occupies the market through a matrix strategy. Since Match.com was acquired by IAC in 1999, IAC began to package and integrate various dating software into Match Group, and continue to develop new products, as well as acquisition and investment.
At present, Match Group has more than seven dating products, not including its investment and shareholding products.
The main revenue sources of Match Group are membership fees and advertising, of which membership fees account for the vast majority. Taking Tinder, whose weight accounts for 2/3 of Match’s overall valuation, as an example, it is not difficult to see its strong ability to absorb gold.
Tinder’s paid membership services include Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold.
Tinder Plus’s functions include unlimited number of compliments, monthly top-ranking opportunities, choosing visible objects (such as only those who have complimented), matching arbitrarily around the world, no advertising, and so on. In addition to the basic membership functions mentioned above, Tinder Gold can also view people who like you to achieve fast matching.
Tinder Plus costs $9.99 per month and Tinder Gold costs $14.99 per month. In the United States, Tinder Plus costs up to $19.99 a month for users over 30. In the UK, users aged 28 or older charge 14.99 pounds a month.
Tinder paid 4.7 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 1.3 million over the same period last year, and its outstanding monetization performance was the biggest boost to the rise in MatchGroup’s share price. Tinder was also the top seller in the iOS bestseller list in the United States, once pushing Netflix and candy crushing legends.
Tinder had faced low-cost competition from Hinge, whose membership costs were $7 a month. However, in 2018, the financially strong Match Group acquired Hinge and implemented its matrix strategy to the end.
In the first quarter of 2019, Match Group’s average number of paid subscribers increased by 16% to 8.6 million, and revenue increased by about 14% to $464.6 million, higher than expected.
Source: Match Group website
Last May, Facebook announced that it would launch its dating feature. MatchGroup shares fell 22% that day, and its parent company, IAC Corp., fell 17.7%. But after the second quarter results were released, Match Group proved its profitability with strength, and the stock price gradually rose.
2. Momo: “Know me by Video”
Match, an American player, found the business path of membership fees several years ago. However, in China, the subscription payment mode of members has been almost a year or two, and has just shown its feasibility in video products such as IQY.
So how did the strangers survive?
At first, Momo tried to profit from membership fees by following Tinder’s example. But even with advertising and game revenue, strangers are still losing money. In 2014, the net loss of Mo Mo nearly tripled, barely making a profit in the first quarter of 2015.
In December 2014, strangers logged on to Nasdaq. Since then, strangers have begun drastic product reform. After 35 iterations of version 6.0, strangers have finally found another way to achieve a breakthrough in commercialization – live broadcasting.
In the third quarter of 2015, strangers invited a few pre-selected singers to hold live concerts.
In 2016, strangers launched live broadcasting, opening the video live platform to all users.
In the first quarter of 2017, the revenue of live broadcasting increased to $212.6 million, with a net profit of $81.2 million.
So far, “video” has become a new keyword, “know me with video” advertising language overwhelming.
2017 Momo Poster/Tuyuan: Momo Official Weibo
Now, it seems that it is a natural choice for social products to become pan-entertainment. According to Momo CEO Tang Yan, a social product, if only functional applications, but no content consumption scenario, will certainly not work.
In fact, at that time, most strangers’social products at home and abroad were functional products with “dating” as the core. The promotional slogans of these products were very obvious.
“Friends with Friends” – Hinge “Only a High Quality App Date Every Day” – Coffee Meets Bagel “App Apps Required to Line up with Neighbors” – The League “Apps that Force Girls to Talk to You First” – Bumble
It is not difficult to see that these products, with the primary purpose of promoting real-life dating, strive to migrate from online to offline, which seems to run counter to the theory of how long users are occupied in Internet thinking.
How to leave users on the platform and let them chat, accompany, entertain and consume on the platform? Based on this thinking, a number of platforms have gradually evolved into pan-entertainment. Typically, besides strangers, there are also “overseas version strangers” MICO.
3. MICO: stranger + Tinder?
Similar to the strangers breaking out from the artillery fire, MICO, which grew up independently, was very pragmatic from the very beginning.
The overseas expansion of heavy-duty products, without a golden spoon, can only do everything possible to self-hematopoiesis. TikTok burned $1.2 billion in overseas expansion in 2018, which is beyond the imagination of a start-up team like MICO.
After completing the early user accumulation, in 2017, MICO and live product Kitty Live were merged and connected, adding a series of entertainment functions, such as live broadcasting, short video, games and so on, and then ushered in the outbreak of revenue.
Q1 China App Overseas Revenue List for 2019 released by Sensor Tower
Through the core social attributes to precipitate user relationships, and through various entertainment modules to provide content and consumption scenarios, MICO has become a stranger in overseas emerging markets, achieving low-cost, strong retention, long-term, and rapid revenue growth. In May 2018, MICO announced large-scale profitability.
The path of “social + entertainment” has been verified, so is “entertainment + social” feasible? In fact, many live broadcasting platforms that started to go to sea in 2016 have tried to transform to strangers in the next year or two, but few have succeeded.
It’s not hard to understand.
Entertainment together after making friends is a very natural process. In the relatively scarce dating platform for women, live broadcasting achieves the result that a woman socializes with many men at the same time to a certain extent.
On the contrary, it is not:
The purpose of the users of live broadcasting platform is clear, that is, to watch live content, and the first entrance of live broadcasting products can not meet the social needs. Live platforms impose social interaction, and this reverse combination is doomed to end.
With the rapid growth of profits, MICO is further deepening its social functions, adding sliding matching functions, and putting them in the first level. As a result, the proportion of members’paid revenue is increasing.
It is not difficult to see that, whether at home or abroad, the membership payment model has gradually matured in recent two years. Mo Mo acquired exploration in 2018. In addition to the matrix layout, Mo Mo is also enriching its profit model.
Re-emergence of tuyere, the future is promising
The wind seems to be blowing again, starting in 2018.
At the beginning of 2018, Soul, the main “psychic social” player, received a B-round financing led by DST. Under the guidance of the fund, which has invested in such celebrity social products as snapchat and exploration, Soul has won the favor of many VC and big factories.
At the end of 2018, one month’s “meetings” on the line received tens of millions of dollars of A round financing from Sequoia capital and Gaorong capital, and 200 million yuan financing from “Xiangjian”.
In the domestic market under the cold winter, capital is still confident about strangers’social circuit.
Some people say that the fourth outlet for strangers to socialize has come, and this trend continues this year.
In April, Quickhand bought the photo-polling social networking software “shrimp head” to further lay out strangers’social networking. After launching a series of new products in succession, Momo just launched its social product “Look and see” in July. Hong Kong-listed audiences recently announced a wholly-owned acquisition of social networking platforms at a price of $85 million.
Although pornography, violations, insecurity and other negative voices continue to be heard, the industry seems to be full of vitality.
When Wechat is full of leaders, colleagues, seven aunts and eight aunts, people begin to behave themselves in the circle of friends. The loneliness in the acquaintance world, the hormones in the world, the depression and curiosity that can’t be dispelled, breed the market of strangers’social intercourse, which is a new need or a false proposition?
The answer is self-evident.
Looking at the development history of strangers’social intercourse for more than 20 years, it seems that strangers have been in a whirlpool and have been flying above the wind.
Looking ahead, the future of global stranger socialization is still full of unknown variables. Although Match, strangers, MICO and other early players have separated from each other, this is an industry that is not limited to the giant ecosystem, and the new model may trigger subversive effects at any time.