Jiecao Collection is a Chinese app that features trending jokes and memes. Since it launched at the end of last year, Jiecao Collection has netted several million users among whom 80% were born post-1990. With a simple goal to be a source of happiness for young people, the app did not intend to target specially the post-90s when it started out, according to founder Grace Chen.

The word “jiecao” literally means “moral integrity” in Chinese but has become a new slang for China’s young generation. It’s normally used in negative, such as “one has no jiecao,” to describe someone who’s done something not technically immoral but still inappropriate and sometimes offensive. Jiecao Collection provides exactly this type of “naughty and edgy” in-jokes and punchlines that make many China’s post-90s laugh.

A similar content-based platform for jokes that has served the post-80s is Qiushi Baike, which features anecdotes that prove you lame/a loser. Every generation seems to have its own subtle sense of humor.

Jiecao Collection might remind some of the popular comedy site 9GAG from the US. Unlike user-generated 9GAG, Jiecao Collection is a platform for professionally generated content. The app is simple, visual and free of annoying ads. China has no shortage of this type of jiecao-oriented content platform, but Jiecao Collection wants to differentiate itself by providing an interactive user experience. For one, it recently added a “danmu” (or danmaku in Japanese) feature, a word that literally means “bullet curtain” or barrage as in a barrage of bullets. It is a real-time commentary sharing system that is popular on ACG (anime, comic, game) video sharing sites in Japan and China. This is how it works:

When you’re reading a post, hold your finger over a spot you want to comment on, then a comment box will pop up.

Playback subtitles
Real-time commentary

When you scroll to read, real-time comment threads from other users riffling on the joke will shoot up like bullets:

Bullet comments shooting up

To drive user interaction, Jiecao Collection partners with businesses to hold offline events, for example, with e-commerce Chunshuitang. Grace recently went on a talk show hosted on YY’s online interactive video platform, and a lot of her fans listened to the show and sent her virtual gifts. YY has been known for its online singing performance, which generates revenues from virtual gifts that audiences give to singers.

Currently focusing on user acquisition and branding, Jiecao Collection doesn’t have a solid revenue stream although value-added service is a possibility for future monetization, according to Grace. With such a demographically concentrated user group, it shouldn’t be difficult for Jiecao Collection to target highly relevant, personalized ads at users in the future, like Douban’s interest-based social e-commerce Dongxi.

It’s hard to label China’s young generation and they don’t like to be labeled anyways, just like you can’t define Grace with a single profession as she wears numerous hats: an entrepreneur, designer, artist, producer, editor, model, among a host of others.

Telling the uncommon China stories through tech. I can be reached at ritacyliao [at] gmail [dot] com.

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