TikTok’s new rival makes for a great side hustle

Killing time? Zynn will pay you to use its app.


May 29, 2020

Whoever said money can’t buy love has never heard of Zynn.

It’s the top free iPhone app in the US right now. It looks a lot like TikTok. And it’s shelling out cash to Americans faster than the stimulus checks.

Create an account? Zynn will send you $1, redeemed through PayPal. Invite 5 friends? Cha-ching, up to $110. Every video you watch earns a handful of points, which you can convert into cash or Amazon gift cards.

Some users say they’ve seen big paydays, but others are less sold: Several users complained that they hadn’t received their earnings. One venture capitalist called it a “giant referral pyramid scheme.”

TikTok can’t hip-thrust its way out of this one

It’s no accident that Zynn launched in the US last month, a year after TikTok first giddy-upped into the American mainstream with “Old Town Road.”

In China, the companies behind Zynn and TikTok are fierce competitors: Zynn (which is called Kuaishou in China) is the country’s 2nd most popular app after TikTok (known to Chinese users as Douyin). This month, Kuaishou sued Douyin for “unfair competition.”

Zynn has lived in TikTok’s shadow — both feature short videos, an endless scroll, and near-identical “discover” pages.

Paying people to use your app has a rich history

Whipping out the checkbook helped the Chinese news app Qutoutiao and the ecommerce giant Pinduoduo build huge followings, according to The Information.

And Zynn can afford to run itself into the red for a little while: Last year, the company pocketed $5.7B in revenue.

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