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Could ByteDance Develop a Clubhouse-Style App for China?

By Ding Yi / Mar 05, 2021 04:12 PM / Business & Tech

TikTok owner ByteDance is developing its own version of popular audio chat app Clubhouse, joining the ranks of Chinese firms which have rolled out similar services since Clubhouse was blocked in China in early February, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

Discussions about TikTok and ByteDance on Clubhouse, a U.S. invitation-only app allowing users to set up ad hoc groups to chat on topics in real time, has prompted interest in the genre from ByteDance executives including CEO Zhang Yiming, but related plans are still in their early stages, the sources told Reuters, without providing details about the launch date.

ByteDance did not respond to Caixin’s request for comment.

In the early days of February, Clubhouse gained considerable attention in China after an audio discussion between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev over the GameStop drama on the app made Chinese internet users prick up their ears. But on Feb. 8, Clubhouse was found to be inaccessible in China.

The interest in Clubhouse in China however ignited aspirations among some Chinese tech firms to launch similar services, of which Xiaomi is the most famous. On Feb. 27, MiTalk, Xiaomi’s WeChat-like instant messaging app which suspended operations on Feb. 19, unveiled plans to relaunch as an audio chat app for professionals to share insights into various industries. Xiaomi said that it is inviting selected users to try out the functions of the new MiTalk on a small scale before making it available to the general public.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Clubhouse Craze Sends Shares of Chinese Imitator Skyrocketing


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