ByteDance developing Clubhouse clone for China

TikTok owner ByteDance is working on a Clubhouse-like app for China, sources familiar with the matter have revealed.

At least a dozen similar apps have been launched in the past month, with momentum picking up after Clubhouse was blocked in China in early February.

Clubhouse had seen a surge in users who participated in discussions on sensitive topics such as Xinjiang detention camps and Hong Kong independence.

ByteDance’s plans are still in the early stages, the sources said.

The success of Clubhouse, which can host up to 8,000 people per chat room and has seen a discussion between Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk and Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev boost user numbers, has rammed home the potential of audio chat services.

But similar apps in China are expected to take on Chinese characteristics that will accommodate censorship and government oversight.

One such example is Nasdaq-listed Lizhi Inc’s Zhiya app which was launched in 2013 and whose users usually talk about video games or sing songs.

The app was briefly taken down by Chinese regulators in 2019, but reinstated after Lizhi made rectifications.

Some new entrants to the market have had hiccups.

Inke Ltd, best known for its livestreaming platform, launched a similar app, Duihuaba, this month that recruited venture capitalists, fashion critics and other celebrities to host conversations.

However, it abruptly pulled the app two weeks after its debut, saying that it needed further improvements without elaborating.

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