Business: TikTok copycats are growing

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TikTok has become so big. Let’s look at some numbers the app has presented so far:

– #1 downloads last year, and in Hi1 2021.

– 1B+ MAUs, up 45% since July 2020… despite the ban in India.

– Highest grossing non-gaming app in H1 2021.

– Usurped YT in avg. monthly hours per user on Android in the U.S/UK (according to App Annie)

– Helped ByteDance, its parent, become the world’s most valuable startup.

If I know anything, that is you don’t get into the three comma MAU club via sheer luck. You gain access by perfecting, or inventing, a technology model with mass appeal. Mission accomplished for the Tok!. 

But with the success comes bigwig mimicry and a deluge of startups looking to build upon your secret sauce. And as expected, TikTok has created a wave of TikTok-like startups in recent years. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Shopping TikTok-likes

Flip, Spin Live, YEAY

Gaming TikTok-likes

Medal, Lowkey, Clip It, Hover, Playbyte

Audio TikTok-likes

Moonbeam, Jamiphy

Maps + Local TikTok-likes


News + Culture TikTok-likes

Polemix, Volv

Kids + EDU TikTok-likes


Dating TikTok-likes

Lolly, Snack, The Sauce

However, I believe most of these TikTok wannabes will stumble, because most of them are not getting the “secret sauce” correctly. On the surface, they might look and smell like TikTok, but poke them a bit and that facade crumbles like a sand castle.

One of the greatest mistakes those wannabes make is just slapping short videos on a swipeable feed. This is not gonna work. TikTok’s strength is drawn from its creating tools, consumption algo, and community, NOT short-form videos. One evidence is that LIVE and longer formats wiggled into the app recently. 

Going on, I think we will see more and more TikTok-likes in all vertices, though most of them will fail, some however, will be successful. Keep an eye on those wannabes and invest wisely. Maybe you can find your gold mine here.