Tencent, the owner of WeChat, has announced RMB 10 million investment in what is being described as China’s Tinder. Called “Whooo”, the app uses geo-location to help local Chinese connect.
Using the often unhelpful ‘tech-ese’ habit of subjecting Chinese startups to being ‘China’s version’ of something that already exists in the ‘West’. So it seems it is the fate of Tencent’s latest, in a long line, or investments in promising local apps. This time the label is the somewhat raunchy – “China’s Tinder”.
Like a 80s rap song, let’s break it down! Tinder vs. WHOOO
Like Tinder, WHOOO will recommend the profiles of people nearby, to see if you are ‘interested”. So like Tinder, it operates on a ‘swap-by-swap’ behaviour. And like Tinder, only under the condition that two users have ‘liked’ each other’s profiles, can they commence a conversation and agree to meet.
But China’s Tinder is a lot less Tinder-ess. It is less about a hook-up and more about finding genuine friends with the same interests. So let me say it – China’s Tinder, is less shallow than the hooky-uppy version in the West.
For this reason, Tencent is not buying into China’s next sex scandal, instead they are investing in an app,
that is more ‘profound’ that WeChat in terms of connecting ‘like-minded’ people.
Suggestive of this potential, WHOOO asks users to create a photo album (if they choose), and require them to leave their job, zodiac sign and favourites in terms of food, sports, music and books. Their current fan base is focussed on post-90s, so aged 16-25.
Through geo-location, users can share their daily movements, so this can be used to create matches with people who have the same routines and habits. Also WHOOO introduces certain themes, which users can join, so other users can see their response – for example ‘where are you planning to travel?’, or ‘what would you do if you became a millionaire?’.
Currently, WHOOO has an estimated 30,000 users, so for China this is very early stages for Tencent to make an investment, suggesting they see the potential of hobby-based peer communication to create needs beyond WeChat and currently-available platforms.
At SMART, we have noticed that urban youth are increasingly looking to form friendship groups based on common interests or challenges that they face in life. Often the groups will form online, but arrange face-to-face events to build community spirit. A lot of these groups are built on solidarity and self-help – digital support groups to help manage the incredible pressure to ‘succeed’ in China’s hyper competitive society.
For more on these key cultural changes, check out our SMART TRENDS, coming in May.