- As the fate of TikTok remains in flux, its smaller rival Likee has made waves around the world, attracting as of this June 150 million active monthly users.
As the fate of TikTok remains in flux, its smaller rival Likee has made waves around the world, attracting as of this June 150 million active monthly users.
That is according to the Chinese internet company’s earnings report Joyy, Likee ‘s owner. By way of comparison, TikTok registered about 200 million active daily users in early 2020, a knowledge-based investor told TechCrunch. That means its MAU will be much bigger, and since the COVID-19 outbreak which kept people home, TikTok has seen explosive growth. Even as a possible ban and pending forced sales in the U.S., growth in TikTok has slipped just marginally.
Likee has something special to sell, as it helps influencers to make money quickly from the virtual gifts they collect from fans, The Ken has observed (paywalled) acutely. On the other hand, TikTok prioritizes consumers of the content.
“I think developers deserve to be compensated and monetization helps,” said TechCrunch vice president of device analytics company Apptopia, Adam Blacker.
Like TikTok, Likee isn’t immune to criticism of Chinese-rooted software. India was the biggest market for Likee until the country blocked the app alongside TikTok and hundreds of other Chinese-owned apps. The Indian Government also shut down Likee ‘s sister device Bigo Live.
Nevertheless, Joyy said it has shifted its emphasis from India to other markets by cutting sales and marketing expenses in the country, and even though the regional ban would have a short-term effect on user size, it “does not affect Likee’s overall strategy and monetization,” Joyy’s Chief Financial Officer Bing Jin said on the company’s Q2 analyst call.
Likee is one of TikTok’s fastest-growing rivals in its second-largest market, the US. Likee accumulated 7.25 million downloads from early July through early August, dwarfing Hollywood-backed Triller, TikTok’s old rival Dubsmash, and Vine’s sequel Byte, Apptopia reported.
Likee in Russia and Indonesia, too, is rising fast. In anticipation of ongoing geopolitical threats, Likee is “cooperating with different local authorities” and “improving our local operations,” Jin said.
Joyy, a Nasdaq-listed company, remains little-known outside its home market. Founded in 2005, Joyy popularized the phenomenon of virtual gifting in live streaming through its flagship site YY. Audiences can gift influencers virtual “flowers” and the like, which they can then convert into cash. YY’s monetization model was so successful that it spawned live-streaming rivals of all sorts. When the market saturated, Joyy turned overseas.
In 2016, Joyy’s founder and chief executive Li Xueling founded Bigo as a separate company in Singapore so that it would not be subject to the same investor scrutiny as a public enterprise. Bigo Live’s live-streaming app launched aiming to emulate the popularity of YY, and when short videos became all the rage, Bigo rolled out Likee. Likee has earned 70 million MAUs worldwide between June 2019 and June 2020.
Joyy as a whole crossed 457 million mobile MAUs as of June, with as many as 91 percent coming from non-China markets. Joyy consolidated it into the balance sheet following a full acquisition last year, as Bigo became a revenue generator.
Healthy overseas growth from Bigo will spell Joyy ‘s trust. But when Local media asked Li if he wanted to fight for supremacy with TikTok, he said his company “won’t beat it.” He went on to humbly remark that Zhang Yiming, the founder of TikTok parent ByteDance, “is the most far-sighted guy I’ve ever seen.”