Momo, A Flirting App With 180M Users, Is Latest Chinese Tech Firm To File For A U.S. IPO

Chinese app Momo has just filed for a $300-million public listing in the US. The company intends to list on the NASDAQ. Momo is China’s most popular “hook-up” app, drawing comparisons to US-based app Grindr, but open to all genders and sexual orientations rather than targeting primarily gay men. The company describes the app as “a fun way to discover, chat and engage with new people and communities near you,” but among the public it is generally known as more of an “adult” social app.

Momo focuses on leveraging location tracking and enabling users to connect to people based on proximity, bridging digital and real-world social interactions in near realtime. The idea is that you can connect to people in the same bar/club/party/etc. digitally through the app and then make the jump to real-life meetings within a short time window if you so desire.

The app uses a freemium subscription model as well as in-app digital purchases to generate revenue, which thus far has not yet achieved profitability. Nevertheless, Momo is second only to WeChat in the world of Chinese social apps, reporting over 180 million users, over 60 million active users monthly, and averaging over 25 million active users daily in September. The app also reports averaging 655.2 million messages per day. Despite its popularity, there is still a danger that the Chinese government could step in and intervene as it has done with other messaging apps, such as Viber and Kakao Talk.

My question to the class is: do you think Momo’s model of encouraging real-time meetups is creepy or genius? Bridging digital and “IRL” situations is a powerful aspect of digital, but how far is too far? There is a lot of potential for dangerous misuse of this technology–do you think it has a real future?


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