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Kuaishou Pulls Plug on Video App Zynn After Fleeting U.S. Success Tanks Amid Controversy

By Matthew Walsh / Aug 04, 2021 07:22 PM / Business & Tech

One of China’s top technology firms is killing off a short-video app that briefly made it big in the United States last year before becoming embroiled in a series of bitter controversies.

Kuaishou Technology, whose eponymous app is a major rival to ByteDance Inc.’s Chinese version of TikTok, said Wednesday that it will stop services for another of its offerings, Zynn.

The platform shot to the summit of download charts in the United States soon after it launched in May 2020, partly thanks to its system of paying users who signed up or referred friends.

But it rapidly fell from grace amid accusations of predatory pricing, plagiarizing TikTok’s layout and pilfering content from users on other social media platforms.

In June, Republican Senator Josh Hawley called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate Zynn, likening its model to a “traditional pyramid scheme.”

The same month, tech publication Wired reported that some online influencers had found that their videos had been uploaded to the app from other platforms without their consent.

Google Play Store made Zynn unavailable for download within a month of its debut, a move that a spokesman for the app later claimed was an “isolated incident,” AFP reported at the time.

Kuaishou will cease to provide services to Zynn on Aug. 20, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The company said in a statement that its strategy for foreign markets “remains unchanged.”

Besides Zynn, Kuaishou’s overseas offerings include video sharing platforms Kwai, which enjoys a solid following in South America, and Snack Video, which is popular in South Asia.

Kuaishou boasts about 1 billion monthly active users (MAUs) across all its platforms worldwide, CEO Su Hua said in June.

TikTok said last year that it had around 690 million global MAUs as of July 2020. The app’s Chinese version, Douyin, has around 550 million MAUs.

This story has been updated to correct Kuaishou's number of monthly active users. The company has about 1 billion.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com) and editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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