This is Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to take on TikTok
The Facebook CEO thinks the company can take on TikTok in countries like Mexico, but the Chinese short video app is already more popular there
How big is TikTok? It might be the first Chinese app that Facebook sees as a direct competitor.
In leaked audio recordings from internal meetings obtained by The Verge, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed his plan to take on TikTok -- by releasing a similar app called Lasso.
If you haven’t heard of it, that’s intentional. Facebook’s plan, according to Zuckerberg, is to push Lasso in countries where TikTok isn’t big yet.
Zuckerberg said Mexico is one of these markets. But even though Lasso launched there in April, it’s still not as popular as TikTok, according to app rankings recorded by Sensor Tower.
On the other hand, Lasso may also want to steer clear of India and Japan if it’s trying to avoid competing head-to-head with TikTok. ByteDance considers all three countries “strategically important” for its app, according to a Chinese media report quoted by Technode. India now reportedly accounts for half of TikTok’s total daily active users globally.
Lasso might also have a hard time cracking countries in Southeast Asia. According to a report by Tech in Asia in September last year, TikTok had already surpassed Instagram in Google Play rankings in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. The only country where Instagram was ahead of TikTok was Indonesia -- where TikTok was briefly banned by the country in July last year.
South Korea and Europe are also important markets for ByteDance. According to the Chinese report, those two markets along with India generate more average revenue per user (ARPU) for TikTok than the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South Africa.
In the transcripts, Zuckerberg said TikTok is similar to Instagram’s Explore Tab if that tab featured Instagram stories instead of posts. Josh Constine at TechCrunch said this illustrates how much the Facebook CEO misunderstands TikTok, which he argues is unique in how it inspires people to remix culture rather than be wholly original. The culture that’s sprung up around TikTok could be difficult to copy.
But Zuckerberg thinks there’s a reason to be optimistic. He argued in the meeting that TikTok’s growth comes from its aggressive marketing, but it can’t retain users.
It’s also easy to see why the Facebook CEO is so confident: He’s done this before.
After its failed attempt to buy Snapchat, Facebook famously copied some of the app’s best original features, including the Stories feature that now appears on Facebook and Instagram, possibly contributing Snapchat’s slowing growth.